When I make a CPU-intensive process lowest priority (niceness of 19), it seems the amount of real memory consumption goes up. Perhaps this has other causes.
But, can making CPU-intensive processes lowest priority have adverse effects?
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Reducing the priority of a process will only make it run for longer. So the only possible side effects would be:
Changing the priority/niceness only changes the process's time quantum.
From Understanding the Linux Kernel (3rd ed.) §22.214.171.124: