(On a related note, the kernel is free to refuse any request for extra memory, and can do so for its own reasons. So for example if a process needs to fork() then the memory allocation would normally succeed, on the assumption that the extra memory probably won't be used, but provided there is enough swap space to back it up just in case. Whereas an explicit memory allocation 'I want ten gigabytes' could, as a matter of policy, be denied if the system doesn't have that much physical RAM.)
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