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SubjectMy memory is rusty

Some time recently (I can't remember exactly when :), I think it was
P. J. Plauger who observed that modern operating systems rust. I
other words after using the things for months it is often necessary to
re-install the things to get the performance back to a satisfactory
level. This seems to be a complaint against MicroSoft operating
systems and their ilk.

Somewhere in the 2.1.xx series (maybe 2.1.4x, but I'm not sure) of
Linux kernels I noticed that rapid rusting was setting in. After
using the system for a time, which could be less than an hour, the
performance would become very sluggish due to swapping and only
rebooting seems to restore system performance.

Of course there were a few disastrous kernels around 2.1.90, but we'll
forget about those...

I have a feeling that the rusting problem has become worse as the
kernel versions have progressed but it's only recently that I've
started trying to get some measure of the effect so I can't be sure.

I've recently tried a few things to see if the cause of the rusting
might become apparent but before I really roll my sleeves up it seems
like a good idea to ask here. It's likely that someone already knows
the answer and/or can point out something silly I am doing...

Don't laugh, but my system is currently and 80486 with 8 Mbyte of RAM.
My observation of most messages which mention configuration is that
most people have much more RAM than this and might not be seeing the

To rule out hardware problems, I compiled and installed 2.0.33 and
observe that the rusting is either much slower or doesn't exist with
that kernel.


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