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See BLT.

swap partition: See partition. The swap partition is a partition used in conjunction with RAM. When there is not enough physical RAM in a system to hold everything that might be desired / required in RAM, some of the programs or data are moved to the swap partition, making more room in RAM.

You might think of it as a Level 3 cache, or hard disk cache for the main RAM.

There are various strategies for deciding what should be moved from RAM to the swap partition (see LRU), and when. In my personal opinion, Linux uses the wrong strategy for when (wrong at least in terms of making the most responsive desktop possible -- it may be an appropriate compromise for a system that is used both as a server and a desktop).

The use of RAM and swap in a Linux system is confusing and is at least partially guided by a rule of thumb that "unused memory is wasted". In general though, your system will be faster if it does not use swap. (I'm not saying don't provide a swap partition -- your system may crash if it needs swap and can't find it.) When my systems start using swap, they generally get slower. At that point I consider a reboot, and look for ways to use less RAM or obtain more RAM.

Aside (one of my standard rants): Linux (example Mandrake 7.2 with KDE) requires a whole lot more RAM than Windows (example Win95 with IE 5) for comparable performance. Details on request (or when I feel like searching for some old emails and pasting them here).


  • RandyKramer - 15 Jan 2002
  • <If you edit this page, add your name here, move this to the next line>
Topic revision: r1 - 2002-01-15 - RandyKramer
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