[How To] Optimize RAM Usage on Linux

A smooth and responsive Linux system relies on efficient RAM management. With multiple applications running, memory usage can quickly climb, impacting performance. Thankfully, several methods can help you optimize RAM usage and keep your system running optimally.

Table of Contents

Check Current RAM Usage

Open a terminal window and type the following command to see an overview of your memory usage:

free -h

This command displays information like total memory, used memory, free memory, shared memory, buffers, and cached memory.

Identify Memory-Hungry Processes

Use the htop command to view a dynamic list of running processes along with their memory consumption.


In the htop interface, use the arrow keys to navigate and the F6 key to sort by memory usage. Identify processes consuming significant RAM that you might not be actively using.

Terminate Unnecessary Processes

If you find processes you don’t need, you can terminate them using the kill command followed by the process ID (PID) found in the htop output.


kill 1234  # Replace 1234 with the actual PID

Caution: Be cautious when terminating processes, as ending crucial system processes can lead to instability.

[adinserter block=”6″]

Manage Startup Services

Many services run automatically at startup, some of which might not be essential. Use your distribution’s specific method to manage startup services. Here are some common examples:

Systemd: Use the systemctl command.

systemctl list-unit-files | grep enabled

This lists enabled services. To disable a service, use:

systemctl disable 

SysVinit: Use the chkconfig command.

chkconfig --list

This lists services and their startup status. To disable a service, use:

chkconfig  off

Adjust Swappiness

Swappiness determines how aggressively your system uses swap space (a portion of your hard drive used as virtual RAM). A lower value prioritizes using physical RAM, while a higher value uses swap space more readily.

Check current swappiness:

cat /proc/sys/vm/swappiness

Adjust swappiness (Needs root privileges):

sudo sysctl -w vm.swappiness=10  # Change 10 to your desired value (usually between 1 and 60)

Note: Changing swappiness requires a reboot to take effect.

Restart The System

Rebooting your system clears cached data and frees up memory used by temporary processes.

Remember: Optimizing RAM usage is an ongoing process. Monitor your system’s performance and resource consumption regularly to identify areas for further improvement.

By following these steps and keeping your RAM usage in check, you can ensure a smooth and responsive Linux experience.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.