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Old 04-25-2005, 01:45 PM   #1
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Registered: Jun 2003
Location: UK
Distribution: Gentoo
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abnormally high ram usage

I don't get it.. No matter how much ram i stick in, Linux manages to fill it up completly in a matter of minutes. I restart my laptop, start a few apps, and its full again. I have 1 gig of ram, but only ~ 800 enabled (disabled highmem support coz it causes fs corruption on the laptop for some gay reason).

free -m outputs
root@xushitop:~# free -m
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:           883        874          8          0          7        698
-/+ buffers/cache:        168        715
Swap:          243          0        243
top outputs
Mem:    904880k total,   896548k used,     8332k free,     8264k buffers
Swap:   249472k total,        0k used,   249472k free,   716572k cached
ksysguard says (no, i'm an xfce person, but sometimes use kde apps)
that amarok uses 67 megs VmSize (that's 1 thread, there are 10 of them)
gaim uses 43 megs ?!
and so on..

Is there something wrong, or am i too used to windows and this actually is "propper usage of ram" ?
Old 04-25-2005, 01:54 PM   #2
Registered: Apr 2005
Distribution: FreeBSD
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Linux holds on to memory when you close apps so if you restart it's already in cached memory. As you can see from "free -m" you have 698 MB of cached memory. So in reality you have 883-698 = 185MB of "active memory" the rest is cached or free memory.

It costs nothing to cache it and makes sense just in case you reload the same app. This memory can be released in a microsecond if needed by some other app.

When you are really running out of memory your swap starts to get used. Which almost never happens on my box w/ just 256 MB of memory. Your swap is 0.

Last edited by neo; 04-25-2005 at 01:59 PM.
Old 04-25-2005, 02:03 PM   #3
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Ahh, excellent explanation. Thanks
Old 04-25-2005, 06:37 PM   #4
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Registered: Nov 2002
Location: Stockton, CA
Distribution: Slackware 11 - kernel - Dropline Gnome 2.16.2
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neo - great explaination

xushi - I have 1 box with 1G of RAM and found that applying the Con Kolivas patch to the kernel will get you that last bit of RAM without any extra FS headaches. Another tip, maybe it's just me, but it seems that the CK patch is based on 2.11 not 2.11.7. Applying it to got me some weird results.
Old 05-20-2005, 12:22 AM   #5
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I was wondering the same thing. Thank you for the great explanation.
Old 05-21-2005, 09:55 AM   #6
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: USA
Distribution: Fedora 22;CentOS 7; Kubuntu; Debian
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That's great! I was wondering what that was all about. Of course my computers have 128mb, but I would have been very ticked when I finally put Linux on my awesome computer if it appeared to be taking up all the RAM.
Old 05-21-2005, 10:25 AM   #7
Registered: Nov 2003
Distribution: Slack-where?
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It funny that what you thought was a flaw in memory management is really one of the best things about linux (vs windows that is).

Just teasin'
Old 05-31-2005, 08:13 AM   #8
Registered: Dec 2004
Distribution: Slackware 10
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yeh i was just wondering that too, googled the problem came here, and felt lots better

Old 05-31-2005, 08:35 AM   #9
Registered: Jun 2002
Location: Nova Scotia
Distribution: Debian (home), Kubuntu 7.04 (work)
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xushi's question and neo's concise answer are classic FAQ material, IMHO.


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