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I have a few machines that I machine that I use for running large numbers of jobs where I try to limit the number of jobs so as not to exceed the available RAM of the machine. Occasionally I mis-estimate how much memory some of the jobs will take, and the machine starts thrashing the swap file. I resolve this by sending the kill -s STOP to one of the jobs so that it can get swapped out.

Does anyone know of a utility that will monitor a server for processes by a specific name, and then pause the one with the smallest memory footprint is the total memory consumption reaches a desired threshold so that the larger ones can run and complete with a minimum of swap file thrashing? Paused processes then need to be resumed once some existing processes have completed.

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You could try renicing your processes so the bigger memory hogs complete quicker –  Alastair McCormack Nov 15 '12 at 16:23
I don't know of a utility which will do this, but the logic you have described could easily be written into a bash script and run as a cron job. –  jamieb May 20 '13 at 12:17

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