That sounds very much like a typical PulseAudio installation... Just get rid of it. It is bloatware crap. I run on nothing more than ALSA, and I can put the cpu under intense load and never get any audio lag or skips.
Other times I just boot normally in KDE open chromium with 10-15 tabs and start eclipse which takes about 1GB RAM and I'm already hitting the swap since I have 3GB of RAM. And no I can't buy more RAM since it's a laptop.
Hold on, if you know you are hitting memory limitations, why are you choosing some of the most bloated software that you can choose? PA, KDE, Cromium, Eclipse... I mean come on, in every case there is something lighter that would work better on your hardware.
EDIT: and if you are only using 1GB of ram and still have 2GB available, and it is already swapping, then something is configured wrong... You should check out swappiness.
Never had any sound playing lag when copying files though, also this gui lag has always been IO bound, I've never encountered it despite maximizing the cpu cores (like running x264 encodes while compiling etc). I wouldn't be surprised if BFS/BFQ still gave noticeably better responsiveness during extreme IO load but it's running smooth enough here for me not to bother.
For the record I haven't used swap on my machines for many years so there may be problems with excessive swap access that I'm not aware of.
Eclipse is for Android development, Android is pretty much done for Eclipse IDE. What do you recommend for lower memory usage as a browser instead of Chromium? Using other DE doesn't make that much of a difference memory-wise around 100-150 MB (tested Gnome and Xfce). pulseaudio takes little memory from what I see in System Monitor around 3MB.
running linux with amd anything = that's your problem son
here I'd say overall performance is 70-80% of windows performance (I blame it worse intel drivers) but everything runs great.
fans tend to kick in a lil more than in win 2