I've read a few articles now about changing the swappiness level on Ubuntu to possibly increase performance. But I'm very unfamiliar with how swappiness works, would I benefit from increasing, or reducing it?
I have 6GB of DDR2.
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What's it set to now? How are you using your system?
Linux tends not to use swap much, whatever the settings are, and to be quite efficient with use of system RAM. My desktop system at home, which has only 1 GB of RAM, almost never needs to use swap space; the server systems I monitor in my job, with more RAM but heavier workloads, rarely use much swap space, and we get warnings when they use more than a little.
Most likely, a system with 6 GB of RAM, being used as a desktop, is going to be fine without any special tweaking of swap settings.
Well, Swap is used to increase the amount of Virtual memory the system has, but it's only of use if you max out your RAM.
It uses a chunk of the Hard drive as RAM, but since it's not proper physical RAM it's slower than actual RAM, the transfer rates of a hard drive are slower than those of RAM.
with that amount of ram, it will probably never touch the swap file anyway, but just in case, make the "swapiness" between 0 and 10. it actually solved my flash playback issues and some more dramatic performance increases as well. 1gb ram and (someone send me a better processor, prefereably amd.) a 3.06ghz celeron.
id say do it anyway, cause you have nothing to lose.
Swap space is required not only for virtual memory but also it requires if you need hibernation. Also, it is not at all true that system doesn't use swap space. Swap space is being used while running large programs such as Libre Office or GIMP or video editors. The relevance of swap space lays when at any moment system to handle a large amount of memory and it can rely upon swap space to get rid of it.
Moreover, there are many opinions pertaining to how much swap space required in a system. Well, it actually depends upon amount of RAM. If memory is low as 500 MB almost double of SWAP space can be set up. For a machine with 1 GB ram, 1 GB ram is sufficient. I have setup 2 GB swap space for my 1 GB netbook with atom processor. However, I could notice system is using nearly 300-400 MB of swap space while it is running busy.
You can check it by using command
free in terminal.