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to install Arch on a PC I have to make partition of the HDD

  • boot
  • swap
  • /

The swap is used by virtual memory, right? What's up if I make a too small or a too big swap partition? Could I have as result some kernel panic?

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You don't have to have a swap partition. You could use a swap file instead (or even no swap at all). For that matter, you don't even have to have a separate boot partition. –  cjm Mar 19 '13 at 16:55
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Actually you don't need the swap partition and the /boot partition.

But returning to your question: yes, the swap is used as virtual memory (and also for hibernation). If both the swap file and the physical RAM fill up, you most likely won't have a kernel panic: applications will just start to be killed by the kernel's out-of-memory killer.

But at this point your system will be unbearably slow (which might lead you to think that it has crashed) due to the heavy swapping.

If you have a too-big swap partition, it just won't be used and will be wasted disk space.

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swap is also used for hibernation by default. –  peterph Mar 19 '13 at 17:14
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