How to tune vm to be less swap happy?

From: Andrea Aime (
Date: Wed May 01 2002 - 07:02:38 EST

Hi everybody,
sorry to bother you with this question, but I feel that current vm defaults
are not tuned for a workstation use, but for a file server/db server use.
I work on a couple of machines with 128MB of RAM, tipically use KDE 3.0
and Netbeans (a Java IDE). Ok, I use bloated software, I should have more
RAM. Fine. But what I don't understand is why the system keeps swapping
data in and out just because it doesn't want to shrink the cache below 40 MB.
My typical memory occupation is:

             total used free shared buffers cached
Mem: 127096 123264 3832 0 1216 48164
-/+ buffers/cache: 73884 53212
Swap: 257000 62316 194684

Now, as you can see I would need 135 MB to keep all my programs in memory,
and if you look at top output:

 4397 wolf 9 0 79196 71M 30472 S 0,0 57,4 0:00 java
 4398 wolf 8 0 79196 71M 30472 S 0,0 57,4 0:00 java

you'll notice that due to the cache behaviour not even netbeans fits enterely
in memory. I really doubt that I can benefit from a 48MB disk cache since the
system is swapping in and out every time I open konqueror, kmail and the
like... is there anything I can do to shrink the cache and to allow a bigger
part of my working set to fit into memory? Moreover, what vm tuning do you
advice for a typical workstation use with memory hungry applications?
Best regards
Andrea Aime

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