swapspace(8) dynamically manage swap space


swapspace [options]


Monitor memory and swap usage and allocate or deallocate swap space as needed. This program aims to reduce or do away with the need for swapfiles.

swapspace can be built in two configurations: the full-featured one (which is now the default) or the unconfigurable version. The latter only accepts a few options, disabling all features that are probably only relevant to developers. At some point in the feature, when enough confidence exists that the various configuration parameters are either good enough for everyone or have been made unnecessary, the unconfigurable build may become the default.

The following options are accepted in the unconfigurable version. All of these have more extensive equivalents in the full-featured version.

Quietly ignored; always enabled in unconfigurable version.
Attempt to free up all allocated swap files. Returns 0 if all files were successfully erased, or 1 otherwise.
Display usage information and exit.
Write process identifier to /var/lib/swapspace.pid when starting (and delete it when shutting down). The file's name and location cannot be changed in the unconfigurable version.
Quietly ignored; always enabled in unconfigurable version.
Quietly ignored; always enabled in unconfigurable version.
Print program version information and exit.

In most cases, these should be the only options of any interest for normal use of the program. All files are kept in their default locations, which were chosen in accordance with the Linux Filesystem Hierarchy Standard, and algorithmic parameters are left at defaults that have been tested to work well for a wide range of uses.

The full-featured configuration accepts more options, as listed below. The long-format options may also be specified, without the leading "--", in a configuration file. By default, /etc/swapspace.conf is read on startup.

-a duration, --cooldown=duration
If disk space runs out when allocating a swapfile, wait for duration iterations (of roughly one second each) before considering allocating one again; or if space doesn't run out, wait for duration iterations before considering deallocating uneeded swapfiles. This stabilizes the daemon's behaviour in the face of varying memory requirements.
-B p, --buffer_elasticity=p
Consider p% of system-allocated I/O buffers to be available for other use.
-c file, --configfile=file
Read file instead of the default configuration file.
-C p, --cache_elasticity=p
Consider p% of filesystem cache to be available for other use.
-d, --daemon
Run quietly in the background. This is the normal way to run the program.
-e, --erase
Attempt to free up all allocated swap files. Returns 0 if all files were successfully erased, or 1 otherwise.
-f p, --freetarget=p
Aim to have p% of combined memory and swap space free.
-h, --help
Display usage information and exit.
-l p, --lower_freelimit=p
Try to keep at least p% of combined memory and swap space free; if less than p percent is available, attempt to allocate more swap space.
-M size, --max_swapsize=size
Never let swapfiles become larger than size bytes. You don't normally need to set this; the daemon will learn when its swap files get too big and adapt automatically.
-m size, --min_swapsize=size
Never bother to allocate any swapfiles smaller than size bytes. There should be no need to change this variable except for testing.
-p [file], --pidfile[=file]
Write process identifier to file when starting (and delete file when shutting down); defaults to /var/lib/swapspace.pid.
-P, --paranoid
Overwrite retired swapfiles before they are deleted, so an attacker who obtains access to the disk without going through the system's access control checks (e.g. by unplugging the computer and then rebooting from a CD) cannot retrieve the swapped data. There is no guarantee that this will work, and it will not thwart advanced forensic analysis using custom-built hardware; but it may reduce the chances of an attacker with physical access to the system obtaining passwords, credit card numbers etc. The program will attempt to free up all allocated swapfiles on termination and return a success code for this cleanup, as if the --erase had been specified.
The --paranoid option will slow down swap file management considerably. In particular, stopping the daemon will cause it to try and deallocate (and wipe) all swapfiles it has created, and they will not be available for swapping immediately after reboot.
-q, --quiet
Suppress informational output.
-s dir, --swappath=dir
Create swapfiles in directory dir instead of default location /var/lib/swapspace. This location must be accessible to root only; allowing anyone else to write to this directory or even read swapped data would be a serious security breach.
-u p, --upper_freelimit=p
Avoid having more than p% of combined memory and swap space free; if this percentage is exceeded, try to deallocate swap space.
-v, --verbose
Log debug information to system log and/or standard output, as appropriate.
-V, --version
Print program version information and exit.

Numbers may be suffixed with k, m, g or t to indicate kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes or terabytes respectively: 1k means 1024 bytes, 1m means 1024 kilobytes, 4g means 4096 megabytes and so on.

Timings are measured in iterations, which should typically last about one second each. No pretense of accurate timing is made; this is not the kind of program you would run on a hard-realtime system.

Any messages are sent to the system daemon log; it is also printed to the standard output/error streams (as appropriate based on the urgency of each individual message) if available.


State information can be logged by sending the program the SIGUSR1 signal (user-defined signal 1). Not all of this information will always be current; most of the information internal to swapspace is only updated when needed.

Sending the SIGUSR2 signal will make the program free all swapfiles that are not currently needed, and abstain from allocating any more for the timespan of one cooldown period. The program will behave as if it just tried to create a swapfile but ran out of disk space.


/etc/init.d/swapspace /etc/swapspace.conf /usr/sbin/swapspace /var/lib/swapspace/


Written by Jeroen T. Vermeulen


Please report any bugs you may find on the project website at: http://thaiopensource.org/development/swapspace/


Copyright © 2005 Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA), Thailand
This is free software; see the source for copying conditions. There is no warranty whatsoever. Use entirely at your own risk.