Last I looked, swap space (file or partition) is a way to extend virtual
memory by grabbing some disk space for the effect, and is thus
optional. Your system may handle heavier applications simultaneously if
you give it some swap space, but as long as you have a decent amount of
RAM the system will run perfectly without it.
Actually, if a system *needs* swap space to work correctly, you're
probably due for a RAM upgrade.
But 256MB. doesn't take up the kind of space that could be classified as
inconvenient, and can be shared, and is cheaper than ram.