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Yes, Linux Does Bad In Low RAM / Memory Pressure Situations On The Desktop

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  • Yes, Linux Does Bad In Low RAM / Memory Pressure Situations On The Desktop

    Phoronix: Yes, Linux Does Bad In Low RAM / Memory Pressure Situations On The Desktop

    It's been a gripe for many running Linux on low RAM systems especially is that when the Linux desktop is under memory pressure the performance can be quite brutal with the system barely being responsive. The discussion over that behavior has been reignited this week...

    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pag...es-Bad-Low-RAM

  • #2
    it will likely be months before there is an effective upstream solution
    That's optimistic. Anyway, what's a few more months? It's been like this for as long as I remember.

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    • #3
      I think that's not how the system should behave in this situation.
      It's exactly how I'd expect it to behave.

      A system with the memory all used up and no swap space available runs like shit...you don't say...

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      • #4
        Okay, I'll bite. What should happen when you have no more memory and no swap file and an application asks for more memory? Isn't it up to the application to handle memory unavailability gracefully?

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        • #5
          This seems to be similar to my experience with Kubuntu on a flash drive.
          Very slow, lots of stalls, almost unusable.
          But of course, the case is the opposite, lots of free memory (90 -95%), but KDE Plasma can't or doesn't want to use it.

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          • #6
            imho the problem here is that some of this behaviour is mirrored by GPU drivers, where memory is short

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            • #7
              Never but never disable swap. Without a swap, as you can clearly see the system is not faster. It is much, much slower.
              1. Always but always use a swap file in zRAM.
              echo 2G > /sys/block/zram0/disksize && mkswap --label zram0 /dev/zram0 && swapon --priority 100 /dev/zram0

              2. If you made this mistake and turned off swap, run resource-consuming programs with a memory limit.
              systemd-run --user -p MemoryLimit=3G google-chrome

              3. You can always press the emergency key combination alt-sysrq-f
              An open tab in chrome will end with "Aw Snap!"

              Linux works on billions of different devices, there is no one right solution how to behave in such extreme conditions, satisfying everyone.
              Last edited by latalante; 08-06-2019, 02:52 PM.

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              • #8
                As some of the developers mentioned, pressure stall information will likely be the best way forward. Facebook and android are using it for exactly this problem, and I think it only makes sense that mainline adopt it for OOM-detection heuristics as well.

                It's a bit silly that this problem has been ignored for so long, but at least now we have a solid way of detecting this in mainline.

                Other readings on psi:
                https://lwn.net/Articles/759781/
                https://linuxplumbersconf.org/event/..._detection.pdf

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                • #9
                  The interesting part is that they are looking in to ways to dump more memory - ie things that shouldn't be prio over actual apps.

                  However, Linux is nicer than solaris and most (if not all) BSD:s in this case - they will all crash =)

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by skeevy420 View Post
                    It's exactly how I'd expect it to behave.

                    A system with the memory all used up and no swap space available runs [cut profanity]
                    This is interpreting serious unsolved operating system deficiencies as positive features of the operating system.

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