Writing to this will cause the kernel to drop clean caches, dentries and inodes from memory, causing that memory to become free.
To free pagecache:
echo 1 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches
To free dentries and inodes:
echo 2 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches
To free pagecache, dentries and inodes:
echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches
As this is a non-destructive operation, and dirty objects are not freeable, the user should run “sync” first in order to make sure all cached objects are freed.
This tunable was added in 2.6.16.