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Swappiness and Virtual Memory Management

I've got a question regarding VM management in Linux.

I've got 512MB of RAM on my laptop and at times it can still be slow esp
when the RAM is used up and starts accessing the swap.

Setting swappiness to 10 doesn't really make a difference at all.

However, (what I've heard) users of FreeBSD has attested that hitting
swap on those BSD system does not make any noticeable effect on their
system. Even when there's up to like 700MB of swap in use. 

On Linux, it seems that the opposite is true, when we hit swap, and then
the disk starts to thrash violently and I get slow load-up of programs
and even switching between virtual Desktops can be a real pain.

Does anyone has more insight to this? I know the solution is to add more
RAM but is that really a solution? I mean, it's like storage, is there
really such a thing as "I've got enough storage?"

Ow Mun Heng
Linux on DELL D600 1.4Ghz 
98% Microsoft(tm) Free!! 
Neuromancer 16:56:38 up 1 day, 7:37, 7 users, load average: 0.30, 0.41,

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