Zswap is a kernel feature that provides a compressed RAM cache for swap pages. Pages which would otherwise be swapped out to disk are instead compressed and stored into a memory pool in RAM. Once the pool is full or the RAM is exhausted, the least recently used (LRU) page is decompressed and written to disk, as if it had not been intercepted. After the page has been decompressed into the swap cache, the compressed version in the pool can be freed.
To enable zswap at runtime, execute the following command:
# echo 1 > /sys/module/zswap/parameters/enabled
To enable zswap permanently:
- Either add to your kernel parameters
- Alternatively, you can use
zswap_enabled=1must be present in
/etc/systemd/swap.confand you must start/enable
systemd-swap.service. which is a script to manage swap spaces, in this case the line
Zswap has 4 customizable parameters. The live settings can be displayed using:
$ grep -R . /sys/module/zswap/parameters
/sys/module/zswap/parameters/enabled:Y /sys/module/zswap/parameters/max_pool_percent:25 /sys/module/zswap/parameters/zpool:z3fold /sys/module/zswap/parameters/compressor:lz4
The boot time load message showing the initial configuration can be retrieved with:
$ dmesg | grep zswap:
[ 0.317569] zswap: loaded using pool lz4/z3fold
Each setting can be changed at runtime via the sysfs interface. For example using the following command to amend the first parameter of the list,
# echo lz4 > /sys/module/zswap/parameters/compressor
Using kernel boot parameters
To set the parameter permanently, the corresponding option, for example
zswap.compressor=lz4, must be added to the kernel boot parameter. Therefore to set permanently all the above settings, the following kernel parameters must be added:
zswap.enabled=1 zswap.compressor=lz4 zswap.max_pool_percent=20 zswap.zpool=z3fold.
When changing the compression algorithm via boot parameter the corresponding kernel modules must be available, at least when using lz4 (refer to #Compression algorithm).
For the ones using the systemd-swap script, it modifies the sysfs parameters at a later stage of the boot process based on its configuration stored in
Maximum pool size
The memory pool is not preallocated, it is allowed to grow up to a certain limit in percentage of the total memory available, by default up to 20% of the total RAM. Once this threshold is reached, pages are evicted from the pool into the swap device.
The maximum compressed pool size is controlled with the parameter
Compressed memory pool allocator
The zpool parameter controls the management of the compressed memory pool, it is by default set to
With the zbud data allocator, 2 compressed objects are stored into 1 page which limits the compression ratio to 2 or less. The superior z3fold allocator allows up to 3 compressed objects by page. The compression ratio with z3fold typically averages 2.7 while it is 1.7 for zbud.
A zpool of type zbud is created by default, use the kernel parameter
zswap.zpool=z3fold to select the z3fold method instead. The data allocator can also be changed at a later stage via the sysfs interface.
For page compression, zswap uses compressor modules provided by the kernel's cryptographic API. It uses by default the lzo compression algorithm but this can be changed with
zswap.compressor. Lz4 can be used instead of lzo for faster compression and decompression for a slightly lower compression ratio. Other possible choices are lz4hc or deflate.
There is no issue setting the compression to lz4 at runtime using sysfs or via systemd-swap but zswap starts in this case with lzo and switches at a later stage to lz4. To use zswap with lz4 straight away, this must be defined in the kernel boot parameter and the lz4 module must be loaded early by the kernel. This can be achieved by following these steps:
lz4 lz4_compressto the mkinitcpio#MODULES array.
- Replace the ramdisk environment with a newly generated one:
# mkinitcpio -g /boot/initramfs.img
zswap.compressor=lz4to your kernel parameters.
On next reboot, see #Current parameters to check if zswap now uses lz4 as compressor.