Ubuntu – Do we still need swap partitions on desktops


I have read this question, but it was asked in the context of servers not desktops or notebooks.

If a good amount of RAM is installed on a notebook, say 8 GB, do we still need a swap space?

Best Answer

There is a common misconception that having a swap space is negatively affecting system performance. This is incorrect. As long as you have enough RAM, having a swap area whatever its size doesn't hurt performance at all. What affects performance is being short in RAM and effectively using the swap space.

  1. If you have no swap space and happen to be out of RAM, the kernel will pick one or more processes which it thinks are good candidates (although you might give it some hints though) and kill them.

  2. If you have a swap space and are out of RAM, the kernel will pick less used memory pages and put them on the swap area to free RAM. This will slow down the system but your applications won't be affected otherwise.

I always prefer case 2. as I feel uncomfortable loosing parts or all of my work because the kernel thinks my applications are worth killing. Moreover, with the current size of an average disk being in the TB range, reserving a few percent for swap is usually not an issue.

Related Question