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How to use the free command: 2-Minute Linux Tips

Network World | Nov 26, 2021

In this Linux tip, learn how to use the free command. It doesn't mean a command that you are not paying for, but one that tells you how much memory – physical and swap – is being used on your Linux system including how much is "free" and how much is available.

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Hi, this is Sandra Henry-Stocker, author of the “Unix as a Second Language” blog on NetworkWorld.
In this Linux tip, we’re going to look at the free command. I don't mean a command that you are not paying for, but one that tells you how much memory – physical and swap – is being used on your Linux system including how much is "free" and how much is available.
Here's an example:
As you see, the command shows total memory, how much is used and free and how much is available. The difference between free memory and available memory in Linux is that free memory is not in use at all while available memory is used memory that includes but is not limited to caches and buffers that can be freed without the performance penalty of using swap space.
The default for free is to display the numbers in kibibytes, but you can also display in bytes, kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes, etc. The difference between kibibytes and kilobytes is fairly small – kibibytes being based on 1,024 rather than 1,000.
If you run the command free --help, you will see all the options for how to display the numbers.
That’s your Linux tip for the free command.
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