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3.4.1 Why Lock Pages

Because page faults cause paged out pages to be paged in transparently, a process rarely needs to be concerned about locking pages. However, there are two reasons people sometimes are:

  • Speed. A page fault is transparent only insofar as the process is not sensitive to how long it takes to do a simple memory access. Time-critical processes, especially realtime processes, may not be able to wait or may not be able to tolerate variance in execution speed. A process that needs to lock pages for this reason probably also needs priority among other processes for use of the CPU. See Priority.

    In some cases, the programmer knows better than the system's demand paging allocator which pages should remain in real memory to optimize system performance. In this case, locking pages can help.

  • Privacy. If you keep secrets in virtual memory and that virtual memory gets paged out, that increases the chance that the secrets will get out. If a password gets written out to disk swap space, for example, it might still be there long after virtual and real memory have been wiped clean.

Be aware that when you lock a page, that's one fewer page frame that can be used to back other virtual memory (by the same or other processes), which can mean more page faults, which means the system runs more slowly. In fact, if you lock enough memory, some programs may not be able to run at all for lack of real memory.

  Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License Design by Interspire