I am using Debian sid, hard drive formatted with ext4, running on linux 3.1
I remember on previous linux versions (maybe before 3.0), if I run out of memory, and swap is not enabled, programs will usually crash. This is perfect for my environment: simple web browsing with no critical operations. That is, if I accidentally run across a bad website which uses up too much memory, it just crashes without rendering my terminal unusable.
But in my current setup, the computer hangs with violent I/O throughput in the background. iotop reveals kswapd0 to be the culprit, which means it is due to swapping. After using
swapon -s to determine any swaps that were enabled, I used
swapoff -a to disable all swaps and
swapon -s again to confirm that all swaps were disabled.
Then I tried maximizing my memory usage again. Alas, the behavior I expected didn't happen. Instead, kswapd0 tries over and over to swap out the RAM and fails as there is no swap space. Because it never gives up, my computer is locked in eternal I/O heavy freeze, bad for my disk's health.
Am I doing something wrong in trying to
swapoff -a? Why is the behavior different than what it used to be (probably pre-3.0 times)?