Is it the case that default Ubuntu installs are set up with a RAM/swap configuration such that you can just... run out? Like a lot? My last three installs have been set up this way and I don't understand it


Don't recommend running out of memory, personally

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I remember around 11 or 12 years ago, the best practices for desktops went from "have 4x as much swap as ram" to "have 0.5x as much swap", corresponding I think to the sudden wide availability of large (1G+) flash produced by the campaign to use USB thumbdrives for swap on Vista (which was otherwise unusable on most machines). At the time, overuse of flash as swap would lead to drives quickly overrunning max writes.

In business contexts like servers, swap was already small.

The idea (as explained to me in 2011 or 2012) was that swap should only exist for emergencies on servers, bc if you have a lot you can get used to running in low ram conditions & having horribly slow response times.


That said, i've only run out of memory on ubuntu as a result of severe memory leaks in lightdm & some window managers -- leaks that seem to manifest as a function of number of windows created.

@enkiv2 I've definitely run out in lower RAM setups because I went overboard, but I'm not sure why it's happened in my current setup (hard to debug when you're totally out of memory)

The display manager memory leaks have gotten progressively worse in the past ~6 years; i recommend keeping an eye on a running htop with sort order set to memory usage.

Browsers have gotten way worse about their footprint too & they all leak.

@enkiv2 @xor I ran into a issue like this 2 years ago. Never got to the root problem, but did a lot of troubleshooting. Ubuntu's swapspace system seems broken to me.

If you can read the whole thread, we did some troubleshooting and I found some virtual memory settings that helped, but it was vodoo for me.

@xor today I killed my work GMail tab, which was eating 2.5Gi of memory, in order to load the Q3 H-1B wages spreadsheet in LibreOffice, which consumed about 2Gi of memory

@xor This is not that much problematic since 18.04 when they switched to swapfiles from swap partitions. It is easy to add new swapfiles on the fly.

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