Chrome OS tip: Stop annoying tab reloading by enabling swap space
So far, I’ve been enjoying my Samsung Chromebook quite a bit. I bought the broken laptop from John, replaced the display (the process is actually quite easy, so expect a short how-to in the coming weeks), and have been using it as my main machine ever since. It will likely remain my main machine until I get around to building a new desktop, so eventually I may try to install Ubuntu on it.
For now, though, Chrome OS works great for nearly everything that I do, but one problem that was extremely annoying was the OS’s tab management. I tend to open quite a lot of tabs, and switch back and forth between them often. Chrome OS, however, essentially closes background tabs when you have a lot open, forcing the OS to reload the page every time you switch back to the tab.
While this is partially my fault for opening a large number of tabs, it was extremely annoying and alone almost made me consider giving up on the Chromebook as my main machine right away. I tried searching Google for a fix, but the results weren’t very helpful. Some suggested that predicting page performance was the problem, but it was clearly just a placebo effect.
Then, I remembered that Chrome tends to eat a lot of RAM for every tab open, and that one of the disadvantages of the ARM Chromebook is the paltry 2GB of included RAM. It made sense that the OS would be closing background tabs as the device ran out of RAM, causing the annoying reloading problem.
Fortunately, the fix for this is extremely easy. John has detailed the method for enabling a swap partition on the Chrome OS, which essentially increases the amount of RAM that is available to the system. While it uses up 2GB of storage space at the default settings, the swap partition allows the OS to use the Chromebook’s SSD as additional RAM when there isn’t enough room in the physical RAM. Since the Samsung Chromebook includes an SSD, performance is actually quite good.
Enabling this extra RAM gives Chrome OS more space to store information from the tabs, and hasn’t caused any stability problems for me so far. Instead, though there is sometimes a slight delay while Chrome accesses the tab from the swap partition, I haven’t had to reload any tabs. It may not seem like much, but enabling this swap partition has allowed me to keep using Chrome OS as my main computing software for at least a while longer.