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I'm wondering if it possible to move my main system and a few other programs into swap. I have some 5 GBs of swap, and there are a few games I want to play some memory-heavy games, but the performance is, well, horrible, and I know it's because I am running out of RAM. I have 1 GB of RAM, but that hasn't really helped. So is there a way to clear out my RAM and move it into SWAP space?
The Linux memory manager is pretty smart, and as a general rule it's best not to try to outthink it. That being said, there are a few things you can do -- first is to play with some of the vm setting in sysctl (see sysctl -a | fgrep 'vm.' for a list). In particular you can set the "swappiness" level hoigher to encourage the memory manager to move unused stuff out to swap faster. I'm not sure what some of the others do, but the swapiness is the main tunable.
A more pragmatic solution may be to run a lighter weight window manager / desktop environment. These can eat up a lot of memory, some of which must stay swapped in because the window manager has stuff running in the background (e.g. artsd on KDE). I'm not sure how much of a difference it will make but it's worth a try. One good thing to do is run a top while the game is running and then hit M (capital-M) to sort by memory usage. The size is the total size of all the application's pages and the RSS is the resident size (how much is actually mapped into memory). Look at the big offenders. Is there anything running in the background that should not be?
If the size of the game itself is significantly over 1 GB (or even close to it), you might need to upgrade your RAM since the entire game doesn't fit into memory (after all the OS and system programs need to snatch some memory to do their jobs).
So what types of Window managers would you recommend? I have just about any one you can think of in my SUSE install.
And what would this "top" program be? I've seen it around the forums but I'm still not sure...
I don't know about the swappiness, but about your other questions...
More lightweight window managers would be stuff like Fluxbox. I personally use that and find it's much lighter than GNOME, KDE, etc. Those two are full desktop environments, where Fluxbox is just a window manager. You might also be interested in Enlightenment and Blackbox.
As for "top," if you go to a command line and type "top" and press enter, you'll get a readout of all your usage stats at the moment. Check out the man page for it to find out what you can change.