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The Linux Swap Space

The Linux Swap Space

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Published by: Dhanasekaran Anbalagan on Apr 12, 2012
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04/12/2012

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The Linux swap space is an efficient way to utilise all available memory. It is an area of the harddrive deliberately set aside for the use of the system to be used in conjunction with Random AccessMemory (RAM).How Linux Uses Swap SpaceSwap space is there because in days of yore RAM was a very expensive commodity, but software,including the kernel always seem to need more memory than was installed on a system. Thus, a bitof the hard was allocated for use as a sort of very slow RAM.The amount of the hard disk was, traditionally, twice the amount of installed RAM, so if the systemhad 8mb of RAM then 16mb of the hard drive was allocated for swap space.It is still good practise to allocate a certain proportion of the hard drive to swap space, though theamount allocated does not have to be twice the amount of installed RAM. This does not hold truefor systems with less than 1 gigabyte of RAM, in these cases it is still a good idea to allocate doublethe amount of RAM.However, with RAM, as with many things computer hardware related, how much you needs willdepend on what the system is intended for. A mail server in a small office won't really need muchmore than 512mb of RAM, a print server might need up 1gb, a gamer will need at least 3gb or 4gbof RAM, but for just surfing the web, writing the occasional letter or homework assignment,downloading email and watching the occasional youtube video, you could get away with 256mb of RAM, 512mb might be better though.If you are intending to use your system fro development, the more RAM the better. If you are acasual user, why whittle? Linux, like all other operating systems, has a limit to how much RAM itcan access or use. For 32-bit Linux installations, this is about 4 gigabytes. For 64 bit Linuxinstallations, this is about 16 exabytes. One exabyte is equal to, about, one billion gigabytes...To see how this works just do this simple calculation:for 32 bit:2^32 – that's 2 to the power of 32

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