Sunday, 23 December 2012

Linux Tips:why use swap when there is more than enough RAM

why use swap when there is more than enough RAM

updated: output of free -m
$ free -m
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:          1257       1004        252          0         51        778
-/+ buffers/cache:        174       1082
Swap:          502        144        357

It is normal for Linux systems to use some swap even if there is still RAM free. The Linux kernel will move to swap memory pages that are very seldom used (e.g., the getty instances when you only use X11, and some other inactive daemon).

Swap space usage becomes an issue only when there is not enough RAM available, and the kernel is forced to continuously move memory pages to swap and back to RAM, just to keep applications running. In this case, system monitor applications would show a lot of disk I/O activity.

For comparison, my Ubuntu 10.04 system, with two users logged in with X11 sessions both running GNOME desktop, uses ~600MB of swap and ~1GB of RAM (not counting buffers and fs cache), so I'd say that your figures for swap usage look normal.

What is swappiness and how do I change it?

The swappiness parameter controls the tendency of the kernel to move processes out of physical memory and onto the swap disk. Because disks are much slower than RAM, this can lead to slower response times for system and applications if processes are too aggressively moved out of memory.
  1. swappiness can have a value of between 0 and 100
  2. swappiness=0 tells the kernel to avoid swapping processes out of physical memory for as long as possible
  3. swappiness=100 tells the kernel to aggressively swap processes out of physical memory and move them to swap cache
The default setting in Ubuntu is swappiness=60. Reducing the default value of swappiness will probably improve overall performance for a typical Ubuntu desktop installation.
A value of swappiness=10 is recommended, but feel free to experiment. Note: Ubuntu server installations have different performance requirements to desktop systems, and the default value of 60 is likely more suitable.

To check the swappiness value
cat /proc/sys/vm/swappiness
To change the swappiness value A temporary change (lost on reboot) with a swappiness value of 10 can be made with
sudo sysctl vm.swappiness=10
To make a change permanent, edit the configuration file with your favorite editor:
gksudo gedit /etc/sysctl.conf
Search for vm.swappiness and change its value as desired. If vm.swappiness does not exist, add it to the end of the file like so:
Save the file and reboot.


1 comment: