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An Introduction to Swap Space on Linux Systems


Swap space is a common aspect of computing today, regardless of operating system. Linux uses swap space to increase the amount of virtual memory available to a host. It can use one or more dedicated swap partitions or a swap file on a regular filesystem or logical volume.

There are two basic types of memory in a typical computer. The first type, random access memory (RAM), is used to store data and programs while they are being actively used by the computer. Programs and data cannot be used by the computer unless they are stored in RAM. RAM is volatile memory; that is, the data stored in RAM is lost if the computer is turned off.

Swap space is the second type of memory in modern Linux systems. The primary function of swap space is to substitute disk space for RAM memory when real RAM fills up and more space is needed.

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