"le9" Strives To Make Linux Very Usable On Systems With Small Amounts Of RAM

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 14 July 2021 at 09:30 AM EDT. 75 Comments
It's well known that the Linux desktop can be quite unbearable when under heavy memory pressure as has been showcased over the years and more attention these days turning to the likes of OOMD/systemd-oomd and other alternatives to better deal with Linux low/out-of-memory scenarios especially with today's desktop software and web browsers consuming increasing amounts of memory. Another effort coming to fruition for helping this scenario is the "le9" Linux kernel patches.

The le9 code has been developed over the past two years and is nearing its formal release, according to the developer who mentioned this to Phoronix. The intent of le9 is to protect the file cache from being evicted from RAM. Le9 protects clean file pages under memory pressure to prevent thrashing and what users normally encounter with high latency and locking issues in near out-of-memory conditions.

According to the Phoronix reader involved with the Le9 work, he's reportedly able to run Mozilla Firefox with 37 tabs as well as having Skype, Discord, two PDFs, and LibreOffice all running on an aging decade old system with just 2GB of RAM.
Protection of clean file pages (page cache) may be used to prevent thrashing, reducing I/O under memory pressure, avoid high latency and prevent livelock in near-OOM conditions. The current le9 patches provide two sysctl knobs for soft and hard protection of clean file pages. The current le9 patches are based on patches that were originally created by Mandeep Singh Baines (2010) and Marcus Linsner (2018-2019).

More details on the le9 work via this GitHub repository. Le9 has already been picked up by the likes of the XanMod kernel. When the le9 code is finalized, the developer does intend to post it for upstream review and possible inclusion in the future for the mainline kernel.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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