What's difference between "Free" and "inactive"

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when it comes to memory (RAM)? I have an Intel iMac (early 2006) and I just loaded on a 1gb stick of RAM over the weekend to put me up to 1.5gb. There seems to be a little improvement in response, but not enough to go WoW over. It will load quite a few more programs, though, without slowing down.

One thing I've noticed is that a lot of memory seems to be classified as "inactive". Right now I only have open "Mail", "iTunes" and Safari. I have 590mb "free" and 610 "inactive". Yesterday i crunched a movie with MediaFork and even after it finished, i only had like 7mb free memory until i rebooted at which time I had 1.16gb "free". Can someone explain this to me?
 
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http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=107918

Wired memory

This information can't be cached to disk, so it must stay in RAM. The amount depends on what applications you are using.

Active memory
This information is currently in RAM and actively being used.

Inactive memory
This information is no longer being used and has been cached to disk, but it will remain in RAM until another application needs the space. Leaving this information in RAM is to your advantage if you (or a client of your computer) come back to it later.

Free memory
This memory is not being used.

(For most purposes, FREE and INACTIVE are sorta the same thing)
 
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Thanks Giulio!

That helps. I thought I lost my memory for a moment there.
 

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