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Linux Performs Poorly 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. From a report: Developer Artem S Tashkinov took to the kernel mailing list over the weekend to express his frustration with the kernel’s inability to handle low memory pressure in a graceful manner. If booting a system with just 4GB of RAM available, disabling SWAP to accelerate the impact/behavior, and launching a web browser and opening new web pages / tabs can in a matter of minutes bring the system down to its knees.

Artem elaborated on the kernel mailing list, “Once you hit a situation when opening a new tab requires more RAM than is currently available, the system will stall hard. You will barely be able to move the mouse pointer. Your disk LED will be flashing incessantly (I’m not entirely sure why). You will not be able to run new applications or close currently running ones. This little crisis may continue for minutes or even longer. I think that’s not how the system should behave in this situation. I believe something must be done about that to avoid this stall.”


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