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 Forum index » House Training » Users ( For the regulars )
How to add Swap to current session?
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greengeek


Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 5176
Location: Republic of Novo Zelande

PostPosted: Sun 17 Jun 2018, 04:39    Post subject:  How to add Swap to current session?
Subject description: When booting from CD
 

This query relates to the occasions when I boot puppy from a CD.

I boot from CD especially when I am using a PC that is normally "windows only" and has no swap partition or ext2 partition - just the Windows installation on one or two NTFS partitions.

However - this is sometimes problematic because when I run audio file or video file conversions i run out of memory due to the lack of swap file or swap partition. (ie the system is limited to the amount of installed RAM only).

I don't want to compromise the Windows installation by re-partitioning the HDD to include a swap partition, so what can I do?

When I notice RAM running low I have tried plugging in a usb stick formatted as "swap" - however puppy 'sees' it but refuses to 'use' it.

I add the usb swap partition using the following syntax:

swapon /dev/sdc1

(or whichever /dev value is appropriate) and the swap partition is visible if i use the following commands:

#free

or:

#cat /proc/meminfo

however the total "personal storage" memory available does not change. If I hover over the "partview" icon in the system tray (bottom right) it shows that free space in the "personal storage" has not increased. I still run out of memory.

The only way I can make this work is to make sure that the usb "swap" partition is plugged in during the boot process (That allows the partview icon to see extra storage space). All the information I have found suggests that "swapon /dev/sdx" should be all that is required to get the swap space to be added and active (during current session) - except a few cases where the user also had to add the swap definition to the /etc/fstab file - but as far as i can tell puppy does not use the /etc/fstab file as a rule.

If you are running out of RAM and wish to continue the current session there is not a lot of point rebooting to cure the problem (especially when you are using a RAM-only session from CD for security purposes). Surely there must be some way to switch on swap during a session?

How can I get Puppy to recognise the addition of a swap partition during the current CD boot session - without having the usb stick plugged in at boot time???

cheers!

PS: the main reason for NOT having the "usb swap partition" plugged in initially is that many machines refuse to boot from CD when they detect a usb stick plugged in - even if the bios is set for CD boot priority.

EDIT : If you want to test this behaviour it is easy - just boot from CD and keep copying iso files to /root until you see the personal storage icon (bottom right) turning orange, then red. Eventually you will get a write error telling you that there is no space left on device. Other symptoms can be all sorts of system failures, depending on what you are trying to do. But how to recover from that situation without rebooting and adding swap prior to reboot???
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musher0

Joined: 04 Jan 2009
Posts: 12695
Location: Gatineau (Qc), Canada

PostPosted: Sun 17 Jun 2018, 07:25    Post subject:  

Hi greengeek.

Two things if I may:
-- swap space is NOT storage space. Swap space allows programs to
continue running for a little while if they take more room than
what there is in RAM. It is a way L. Torvalds found to prevent the PC
from freezing when the requirements of an app exceeded the RAM
available. Swap space is a handy stop-gap, that's all it is.

I repeat: swap space is NOT storage space. Adding swap space will not
solve the problem you describe in your last paragraph: bucket icon
turning orange, then red.

-- Second sentence of your post above --
WhineDose also has a swap file. If you set it up as a static file in
WhineDose and make it large enough, Linux also can use it as swap
file. I have not used WhineDose in years, but I know it still has this
function. Linux cannot use a WhineDose dynamic page file, but it can
use a WhineDose static page file as a swap file.

WhineDose calls it "VirtualMemory", "paging file", or "page file". There
is a good explanation of its set-up here:
https://www.geeksinphoenix.com/blog/post/2016/05/10/how-to-manage-windows-10-virtual-memory.aspx.
The only different thing is: in the last illustration, at # 9, one should
specify the same size for "Initial Size" and "Maximum Size". This will
also speed up your WhineDose OS since it will not be playing accordeon
all the time with the "page File". Ancient rule of thumb for size is: twice
the size of the RAM­. (I said "ancient": it may be different nowadays.)
For Linux: minimum 500 Mb.

Once you have your static WhineDose "page File", make a note of its
file name and translate it in Linux terms. (Disk C:\ to /mnt/sda1, etc.)

Then add the following lines to /etc/rc.d/rc.local or introduce them in
/root/Startup as an independent script:
Code:
mkswap /swapfile
swapon /swapfile
Using the WhineDose swapfile, the location will probably be
/mnt/sda1/pagefile.sys. Please double-check, and make a quick note of
its name on a scratch pad.

So you'll probably have commands
Code:
mkswap /mnt/sda1/pagefile.sys
swapon /mnt/sda1/pagefile.sys
Again, please cross-check. I have tried to brush up on this knowledge to
reply to you, but as I said it's been a good while since I have used a
WhineDose system. (Mind you, I was doing this all the time when I was
double-booting.)

Final note about using (sharing) the WhineDose page file as Linux swap
file -- there is no danger of corruption / malware transmission through
the page file / swap file, because
1) a swap file by essence is raw unformatted disk space;
2) you are completely reformatting it with the GNU/Linux < mkswap >
and < swapon > commands. (The same will be true the other way
around booting your WhineDose OS, since it uses equivalent commands
to reformat what it calls its "page file".)

As to your storage shortage proper, I do not understand it. Can you
not, once your Puppy CD/DVD has finished booting, plug in a thumb
drive of say, 8 or 16 Gb, in your PC or portable, mount it with pMount,
and then save on it whatever files or material you need to save?

IHTH. Keep us posted as to how it goes?

BFN.

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bigpup


Joined: 11 Oct 2009
Posts: 11025
Location: Charleston S.C. USA

PostPosted: Sun 17 Jun 2018, 12:16    Post subject:  

Quote:
however the total "personal storage" memory available does not change.

Having swap should not change the personal storage.

If you are booting with a live CD and not using a save file or folder. Personal storage is only going to be what the physical memory is.
The live CD is using a ram disk to act like the save.(Personal storage)

Swap if detected, is just there if memory runs low.

Quote:
If you want to test this behaviour it is easy - just boot from CD and keep copying iso files to /root

You are doing nothing but adding stuff to the ram disk that is acting like the save file.
It will keep using ram untile there is no more!

A test of swap is to run more programs than memory can hold.
Try it.
See what happens.
11

Last edited by bigpup on Sun 17 Jun 2018, 12:27; edited 2 times in total
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jafadmin

Joined: 19 Mar 2009
Posts: 842

PostPosted: Sun 17 Jun 2018, 12:24    Post subject:  

FTW, keep a SATA drive around to stick in your usb cradle, and make a 4G swap partition on it. Whenever you need swap, plug it in and issue your swapon command.
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greengeek


Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 5176
Location: Republic of Novo Zelande

PostPosted: Sun 17 Jun 2018, 15:22    Post subject:  

Many thanks for the replies. Mostly what you have said appears incorrect - it does not agree with what I have found in my tests of multiple puppies over the last few days.

I would like to clarify the test procedure then comment on the replies in more detail:

- Use a PC that has no linux swap partition or swap file (this can be a machine that has no HDD at all...).
- Boot from any Puppy CD.
- Hover over the "partview" icon at bottom right and record the values of personal storage and free space. (Compare these values later with the values seen when swap is added)
- Open a terminal and enter the command "free" and record the values for swap storage. (It will say 0 because we have no swap)

Now let me deal with the specifics:

bigpup wrote:
Having swap should not change the personal storage.

musher0 wrote:
-- swap space is NOT storage space.

Actually - swap space DOES increase your effective RAM. You can prove this in the following way:
- boot the puppy as described above and record the figures. Copy huge files into /root until the RAM is exhausted and get the write error that always results. The partview icon will reflect the actual ram usage in your PC. (green, orange, red)
- Then boot the puppy again, but this time before you boot plug in a 4GB or 8GB usb stick that is formatted as one partition of Linux swap. Once your system is booted - hover over the partview icon and look at the value it shows for "personal storage". It will be different to what it was before. (the actual size seems incorrect so I don't know how the calculation is done - but that is a different issue). Now try filling /root with huge files and you will find that you can fit more in than you could with no swap.
- Note that plugging the swap in AFTER booting and activating it via "swapon" does not confer the same benefit - puppy will see the swap space, pretend that it is available, but never use it.


jafadmin wrote:
FTW, keep a SATA drive around to stick in your usb cradle, and make a 4G swap partition on it. Whenever you need swap, plug it in and issue your swapon command.
Thanks jafa - are you implying that a sata drive (via usb) will behave differently from a usb stick? I have a usb stick formatted as swap only but have not tried a sata drive emulating a stick. Have i misunderstood? Does your system treat a sata drive differently to a flash drive when plugged as swap?


bigpup wrote:
If you are booting with a live CD and not using a save file or folder. Personal storage is only going to be what the physical memory is.
I believe this is incorrect. My testing shows that the live CD "personal_storage" or "working storage" corresponds to physical RAM plus some portion of swap space also.

bigpup wrote:
A test of swap is to run more programs than memory can hold. Try it. See what happens.
Yes, that is exactly what I am doing. The memory runs out when there is no swap available. It also runs out when there IS swap available - but swap allows you to do much more, for much longer than running with no swap.

musher0 wrote:
swap space is NOT storage space. Swap space allows programs to
continue running for a little while
Nope, as far as I can tell Puppy uses the swap just like RAM. It allows you to load extra files into /root and leave them there indefinitely. If you added enough swap space you could leave 20 iso files in /root and they will stay there all weekend until you turn your PC off.

It is not just programmatic storage - it is storage storage.

musher0 wrote:
I repeat: swap space is NOT storage space. Adding swap space will not
solve the problem you describe in your last paragraph: bucket icon
turning orange, then red.
On my system it DOES solve that problem.

Let me briefly mention how I first discovered this - when I first started manually remastering my own puppies I did so on a PC that had no hard drive and only had 1GB of RAM. (ie, I was running in "live" mode totally in RAM) When I used unsquashfs and mksquashfs i regularly ran out of RAM space. However, when I added a 20GB HDD formatted only as a swap partition I could do anything I wanted without running out of RAM. The same seems to apply (with some caveats) with a usb stick formatted as swap.


musher0 wrote:
WhineDose calls it "VirtualMemory", "paging file", or "page file". There
is a good explanation of its set-up here:
https://www.geeksinphoenix.com/blog/post/2016/05/10/how-to-manage-windows-10-virtual-memory.aspx.
....
Once you have your static WhineDose "page File", make a note of its
file name and translate it in Linux terms. (Disk C:\ to /mnt/sda1, etc.)

Then add the following lines to /etc/rc.d/rc.local or introduce them in
/root/Startup as an independent script:
Code:
mkswap /swapfile
swapon /swapfile
Using the WhineDose swapfile, the location will probably be
/mnt/sda1/pagefile.sys.
Thanks for the page file info. At this stage I do not want to utilise the Windows disk at all - for security reasons I prefer to leave that offline (and have a readonly version of ntfs-3g to keep the windows partitions safe)


musher0 wrote:
As to your storage shortage proper, I do not understand it. Can you not, once your Puppy CD/DVD has finished booting, plug in a thumb drive of say, 8 or 16 Gb, in your PC or portable, mount it with pMount, and then save on it whatever files or material you need to save?
Yes, I could do that. However I choose not to because then I would be doing my data manipulations TOTALLY on slow usb buses. What I want to do is keep my data manipulations running as much as possible in RAM (fast) and only spilling over to the usb stick as an overflow to prevent system failure (which is the total reason why linux has swap).

The real question for me is this: - why does Puppy only "pretend" that "swapon" works? Why does swap only become truly active if it is plugged in during boot?

As far as I can tell other Linuxes DO allow "swapon" to work after boot. Does Puppy behave differently as a result of it's layering setup or some other reason??

EDIT: Note: Although the addition of swap allows Puppy to increase it's effective working storage, this does not apply to system code that is loaded from CD to RAM during boot. You can't load a 500MB iso into a PC that has 256MB RAM and 1Gb swap. That is not going to work. There must always be enough inbuilt RAM to hold the puppy system files.
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musher0

Joined: 04 Jan 2009
Posts: 12695
Location: Gatineau (Qc), Canada

PostPosted: Sun 17 Jun 2018, 17:08    Post subject:  

You say it, greengeek, you are a serious guy, so I'll believe you!

But what a strange way to work!!! Smile

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mostly_lurking

Joined: 25 Jun 2014
Posts: 269

PostPosted: Sun 17 Jun 2018, 17:45    Post subject:  

greengeek wrote:
I believe this is incorrect. My testing shows that the live CD "personal_storage" or "working storage" corresponds to physical RAM plus some portion of swap space also.

greengeek wrote:
The real question for me is this: - why does Puppy only "pretend" that "swapon" works? Why does swap only become truly active if it is plugged in during boot?

With live/multisession CDs, the personal storage usually appears to be around 40-50% of the available memory, both physical RAM and swap. However, it seems that whatever process determines how big the storage should be only checks this at boot time, so adding a swap later with "swapon" may give the system more memory to work with, but it won't increase the personal storage size.

greengeek wrote:
EDIT: Note: Although the addition of swap allows Puppy to increase it's effective working storage, this does not apply to system code that is loaded from CD to RAM during boot. You can't load a 500MB iso into a PC that has 256MB RAM and 1Gb swap. That is not going to work. There must always be enough inbuilt RAM to hold the puppy system files.

The system files are apparently loaded before the swap is mounted. Here is a typical boot sequence (from Tahrpup):
Code:
Loading drivers needed to access disk drives
Searching for Puppy files......
Loading the 'puppy_tahr_6.0.5.sfs' main file... copying to ram
Setting up the layered filesystem...
Performing a 'switch_root' to the layered filesystem...
Making the filesystem usable...
Updating... network-drivers-list pixbuf-loaders gtk-icon-cache desk-icons
Updating unique host name...
Loading kernel modules...
Loading swap partition /dev/sda1...
Waiting for modules to complete loading...
Setting up services (network, printing, etc.)...
Recognising media devices... optical input

So the system can't benefit from the additional memory space. If it's bigger than the physical RAM, it has to run directly off the CD instead of copying its files into memory, and constantly has to move data in and out of RAM - which will likely cause it to run very slowly. I got Wary working - more or less - with 64MB of memory and some swap in a virtual machine (and Tahr with 128MB), but I was using ISO files instead of CDs; I suspect performance would be even worse with an actual CD.

Last edited by mostly_lurking on Sun 17 Jun 2018, 17:55; edited 2 times in total
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jafadmin

Joined: 19 Mar 2009
Posts: 842

PostPosted: Sun 17 Jun 2018, 17:49    Post subject:  

greengeek wrote:
Thanks jafa - are you implying that a sata drive (via usb) will behave differently from a usb stick? I have a usb stick formatted as swap only but have not tried a sata drive emulating a stick. Have i misunderstood? Does your system treat a sata drive differently to a flash drive when plugged as swap?


Swap is VERY read/write intensive. It will burn up a USB Flash drive very quickly.
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bigpup


Joined: 11 Oct 2009
Posts: 11025
Location: Charleston S.C. USA

PostPosted: Sun 17 Jun 2018, 21:07    Post subject:  

All this is probably controlled by how Puppy is setting up and using a ram disk.

How are you finding out what the USB swap is identified as, if you plug it in after a normal boot up?

I stand corrected on what I have always understood as to how it works with a swap. Exclamation
Thanks for your testing!

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greengeek


Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 5176
Location: Republic of Novo Zelande

PostPosted: Mon 18 Jun 2018, 03:47    Post subject:  

mostly_lurking wrote:
With live/multisession CDs, the personal storage usually appears to be around 40-50% of the available memory, both physical RAM and swap. However, it seems that whatever process determines how big the storage should be only checks this at boot time, so adding a swap later with "swapon" may give the system more memory to work with, but it won't increase the personal storage size.
Thanks ML - i think you have clarified the essence of my issue.

As musher and bigpup said - swap is supposed to be available only for "programmatic overflow" rather than data storage - however as you have suggested, Puppy seems to do does something unusual during it's boot and "grabs" a portion of a detected swap partition and grafts it into the personal storage space.

I guess the key to how this is done resides within the initrd.gz itself - specifically within the "initrd.gz/init" shell script file.

Here is some of that code from Slacko 5.6:

Code:
#there are technical problems with loading a swap partition/file before the union
#is created, so not doing it until rc.sysinit runs. however, if a tmpfs needs to be
#created here, set it's size in anticipation of a swap being loaded...
EXTRAALLOCK=0
SWAPPART="`echo "$PCPARTSALL" | grep '|swap|' | head -n 1`"
[ "$SWAPPART" ] && SWAPPARTSIZE=`echo -n "$SWAPPART" | cut -f 3 -d '|'`
[ $SWAPPARTSIZE ] && EXTRAALLOCK=`expr $SWAPPARTSIZE \/ 2`
if [ $EXTRAALLOCK -eq 0 ];then
 [ -f ${SMNTPT}/pupswap.swp ] && SWAPFILESIZEBYTES=`stat -c %s ${SMNTPT}/pupswap.swp`
 [ $SWAPFILESIZEBYTES ] && EXTRAALLOCK=`expr $SWAPFILESIZEBYTES \/ 2048` #use half. 110521 also convert bytes to kb.
fi

FREEK=0
if [ "$CREATETMPFS" != "" ];then
 FREEK=`expr $RAMSIZE \/ 2` #half of physical.
 [ $PUPMODE -eq 77 ] && FREEK=`expr $FREEK - 50000` #need some slack.
 ALLOCK=`expr $FREEK + $EXTRAALLOCK`
 mount -t tmpfs -o size=${ALLOCK}k tmpfs $CREATETMPFS
fi

#RW (top) layer now has a tmpfs, PDEV1 or ${DISTRO_FILE_PREFIX}save mounted on it. calc free space...
[ $FREEK -eq 0 ] && FREEK=`df | grep ' /pup_rw' | tr -s ' ' | cut -f 4 -d ' '`
[ ! $FREEK ] && FREEK=0

if [ "$CREATEFOLDERS" != "" ];then
 PUPSAVEDEV="`echo -n "$PUPSAVE" | cut -f 1 -d ','`"
 PUPSAVEFS="`echo -n "$PUPSAVE" | cut -f 2 -d ','`"
 PUPSAVEFILE="`echo -n "$PUPSAVE" | cut -f 3 -d ','`"
 mount -o noatime -t $PUPSAVEFS /dev/$PUPSAVEDEV /mnt/dev_ro1 #mnt the cd.
 #create a tmpfs to load the folders...
 ALLOCK=`expr $RAMSIZE \/ 2 - 50000` #allocate half of physical ram. + leave 50M slack.
 mount -t tmpfs -o size=${ALLOCK}k tmpfs $CREATEFOLDERS #/pup_ro1
 #load the folders from the cd...


My question now is - could that same method (or a similar method) be used AFTER booting to extend the personal storage area and give me more space in which to continue my data manipulations when RAM is running low.

Is there some way to plug in a new swap partition and make some or all of it usable as personal storage? The code above seems to refer to mounting "tmpfs" etc so I wonder if that is the key - grab a slice of "swap" and mount it to something.

Just spitballin' here...

EDIT : Here is some (possibly relevant) code from /etc/rc.d/rc.sysinit which is the file referred to in the code further above:
Code:

loadswap_func() { #w481 made into a function.
 echo "LOAD SWAP"
 #load a swap partition...
 for ONESWAP in `fdisk -l | grep ' Linux swap' | cut -f 1 -d ' ' | tr '\n' ' '`
 do
  echo -n "Loading swap partition $ONESWAP..." >/dev/console #loading swap partition
  swapon $ONESWAP
  status_func $?
  [ $? -eq 0 ] && SWAPON="yes"
 done
 #if no go, try for a swap file...
 if [ "$SWAPON" != "yes" ];then
  SWAPFILE="/pupswap.swp"
  if [ -f /initrd${PUP_HOME}${SWAPFILE} ];then
   echo -n "Loading swap file ${SWAPFILE}..." >/dev/console #loading swap file
   swapon /initrd${PUP_HOME}${SWAPFILE}
   status_func $?
   [ $? -eq 0 ] && SWAPON="yes"
  fi
  if [ -f $SWAPFILE ];then
   echo -n "Loading swap file ${SWAPFILE}..." >/dev/console
   swapon $SWAPFILE
   status_func $?
   [ $? -eq 0 ] && SWAPON="yes"
  fi
 fi
}


Wouldn't it be good to extend the functionality of a CD boot environment?? Wouldn't it be great to have a CD bootable PC with no HDD and yet have 16GB of RAM+swap??

Anybody, anybody...
Smile
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nic007


Joined: 13 Nov 2011
Posts: 2593
Location: Cradle of Humankind

PostPosted: Mon 18 Jun 2018, 05:12    Post subject:  

Hi, greengeek. Doesn't the MakeSwap-Advanced script I released a while ago work for you? And - if you create a small savefile > create a swapfile and switch it on > reboot with the savefile (presuming you boot with cd and it picks up the savefile and swapfile), will it make a difference how Puppy utilises the swapfile then?
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greengeek


Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 5176
Location: Republic of Novo Zelande

PostPosted: Mon 18 Jun 2018, 05:57    Post subject:  

nic007 wrote:
Hi, greengeek. Doesn't the MakeSwap-Advanced script I released a while ago work for you?
To be honest I did not test it with a view to overcoming the "swapon" failure I am experiencing post-CD-boot.

I have only just realised the special characteristics of the swap/personalstorage hybrid and the potential of increasing that workspace beyond its current limits.

I will go back and test makeswap again.

I really like running my Pups with any disk partitions containing critical data totally offline, so swap partitions (and I guess swap files) have an attraction - large expanses of real estate just sitting there waiting to be filled up with anything and everything - then dumped unceremoniously at shutdown (with cirtical data manually saved elsewhere of course).

Any method that lets me increase the effective size of the "virtual storage" in use during a live CD session will be handy.
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jafadmin

Joined: 19 Mar 2009
Posts: 842

PostPosted: Mon 18 Jun 2018, 12:50    Post subject:  

@greengeek,

Please keep in mind that the contents of that swap space will be easily viewed by folks like me until that swap space is overwritten. So make sure to wipe it after any mylittlepony bingeing (not that there's anything wrong with that).
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greengeek


Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 5176
Location: Republic of Novo Zelande

PostPosted: Tue 19 Jun 2018, 05:42    Post subject:  

nic007 wrote:
Hi, greengeek. Doesn't the MakeSwap-Advanced script I released a while ago work for you? And - if you create a small savefile > create a swapfile and switch it on > reboot with the savefile (presuming you boot with cd and it picks up the savefile and swapfile), will it make a difference how Puppy utilises the swapfile then?

Hi nic - I just tried your makeswap-advanced on the system where I have been trialling the benefits of swap partitions during CD boot and it did activate extra swap but took about 15 minutes to do so. The system was extremely slow during that time and exhibited various display defects. Not sure why. More testing to come. Also - it had no impact on the personal storage total (not surprising as I now realise that puppy only does the "swap/personalstorage hybrid" thingy during boot - not thereafter).

As a continuation of my thinking in earlier posts I see that amigo mentioned a need to adjust the fstab also:

http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?p=588541#588541
amigo wrote:
"paging is more common" Paging is another name for swapping. When 'mkswap' is run swap space is divided into 'pages' of 4K each.....As I pointed out, it is good to have at least a small amount of swap space - whether as a swap file or as a partition. They will perform the same. If you have plenty of space in your '/' partition, you can create a swapfile anywhere it's convenient and add an entry for it in your fstab.


Maybe that offers a clue as to how to get personal storage to increase without reboot. (I would settle for personal storage to increase after X restart - but reboot is out of the question for me).

In the same thread MaikMurks talks about the personal storage increase gained by adding a swap partition. Obviously CD boot is a special case. At least he confirms what mostly lurking said about how Puppy allocates part of the swap partition as personal storage (but only during boot dammit)
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greengeek


Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 5176
Location: Republic of Novo Zelande

PostPosted: Tue 19 Jun 2018, 05:45    Post subject:  

jafadmin wrote:
@greengeek,

Please keep in mind that the contents of that swap space will be easily viewed by folks like me until that swap space is overwritten. So make sure to wipe it after any mylittlepony bingeing (not that there's anything wrong with that).
Thanks for confirming that Swap is a security risk. I had thought this for a long time but without knowing for sure. As a matter of interest - how would you violate the sanctity of someones swap space and check up on someones mylittlepony research? Hex editors? Forensic recovery utilities? etc?
cheers!
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