Lets assume you upgrade you RAM from 1 GB to 2 GB. Since, the swap device is usually statically created during install-time and you'll probably be stuck with less swap space than the recommended figure. Then, you have 3 options
1) Who needs extra swap?
2) Make a swap file (simpler, but slower)
3) Extend the swap device.
For Approach 2, you can use the "dd" command to created a file of required size and then use it as a loop device.
Lets see the Third approach in detail.
Run "$sudo parted --list" to get a list of block devices attached to the system.
Use "parted /dev/sda resize <partition-number> <start> <end>"
"/dev/sda" is the HDD on my machine. Replace appropriately from the "parted --list"'s output.
Take the "partition-number" from the "parted --list" command's output. Use the swap device's partition number. Adjust the start end as you wish (can be specified in MBs.. eg. parted /dev/sda resize 5 5000M 7000M"
You don't need to worry about keeping the space free or defragmenting the drives to avoid data loss. Parted (claims) to take care of it.
If you never had a swap space (and created a partition just now) or you are using a swap file,
Make a swapfs on the partition
(eg. $mkswap /dev/sda5)
Then, tell the system to swap on that device
(eg. $swapon /dev/sda5)
Add an entry in /etc/fstab for persisting the settings
"/dev/sda5 swap swap defaults 0 0"
Check whether everything went fine by,
Recommended swap-space = twice of total physical memory.