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Increase swap space temporarily with a swap file

Sometimes your RAM and swap partition are not enough, and you might not want to touch your partition sizes. The solution is to create a swap file instead, which performs almost the same as your swap partition. For a 2Gb swap file e.g. do:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/swapfile1 bs=1024 count=2097152

to create it. Now format it and make it active:

mkswap /swapfile1 && swapon /swapfile1

If you decide to keep this active after your next re-boot, simply add to your /etc/fstab:

/swapfile1 none swap sw 0 0

Where do you use a swap file?

a) On a server where where you expect massive traffic and can not afford to turn it off for the time needed to re-partition and/or RAM upgrades.
b) On older hardware with a small HDD before installing aptosid, where you do do not want to keep a large swap partition, but need a swapfile while installing.
c) On a workstation where you want to do nasty stuff with huge memory needs.


swap is no final solution if your hardware suffers from having not enough RAM. Always consider to upgrade RAM, all above is intended as a temporary solution.