Is Linux better at memory management than XP?

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by RedCroissant, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. RedCroissant, Jan 27, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2013

    RedCroissant Suspended

    Aug 13, 2011
    I am wondering whether or not Ubuntu is better at memory management based solely off my experiences with both Ubuntu and XP running in virtualization via Virtual Box. When I run XP, my RAM slowly fades away and then I have more than 2GB of inactive memory. When I'm running Ubuntu, my RAM usage is consistent and my resources on OS X Lion are not heavily diminished.
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I'd say Linux, Unix (and by way OSX) are superior at memory management then Windows.
  3. RedCroissant thread starter Suspended

    Aug 13, 2011
    Thank you for your response. I wasn't sure if my experience with both of them through virtualization was enough to make that determination, but I'm glad that it seems to be correct.
  4. Dr. McKay macrumors 6502a

    Jan 20, 2010
    Belgium, Europe
    Anything's better than XP at memory management :D
  5. err404 macrumors 68020

    Mar 4, 2007
    It depends on what you mean by "better". When comparing a ten year old Linux kernel of the same era as Windows XP, you will see both have different strengths and weaknesses. While Linux will be a bit more resilient to memory related faults, it was also less complex and generally slower (not the OS, but specific memory allocations and paging functions). Basically Windows makes more assumptions on how an app will behave in order to anticipate its needs. Unfortunately this occasionally leads to mistakes where the wrong actions take place. This can lead to memory being lost where neither the application nor OS realizes that it is still available, or crashes when the OS and application have a disconnect for how a block of RAM can be accessed.
    Like most stability issues in windows, they are not due to deficiencies in the kernel design, but rather are hard coded exceptions to the protections otherwise offered by the by the NT kernel. For example the video driver in XP ran as a kernel level process. While this saves time on mode switching, it creates a point of failure that the kernel otherwise wouldn’t have allowed (BSOD). Linux on the other hand took a simpler approach and did not have these exceptions. In general this contributed to Linux based machines from 10 years ago struggling more with video intensive tasks like full screen HD video playback and 3D rendering (less mature drivers didn’t help either).
    In modern Windows, the areas of potential contention have been greatly reduced, allowing for the optimized performance without compromising stability.
  6. RedCroissant thread starter Suspended

    Aug 13, 2011
    Thank you for that awesome response!

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