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What is /dev/shm and its practical usage ?

July 25, 2006

What is /dev/shm and its practical usage ?

/dev/shm is nothing but implementation of traditional shared memory concept. It is an efficient means of passing data between programs. One program will create a memory portion, which other processes (if permitted) can access. This will result into speeding up things on Linux.

If you type mount command you will see /dev/shm as a tempfs file system. Therefore, it is a file system, which keeps all files in virtual memory. Everything in tmpfs is temporary in the sense that no files will be created on your hard drive. If you unmount a tmpfs instance, everything stored therein is lost. By default almost all distro configured to use /dev/shm.

Nevertheless, where can I use /dev/shm?
You can use /dev/shm to improve the performance of application software or overall Linux system performance. On heavily loaded system, it can make tons of difference. For example VMware workstation/server can be optimized to improve your Linux host’s performance (i.e. improve the performance of your virtual machines).

For example, if you have 8GB RAM then remount /dev/shm as follows:

# mount -o remount,size=8G /dev/shm

To be frank if you have more than 2GB RAM and if you running multiple Virtual machines this hack always improves performance.

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