constant disk access

Asked by donde on 2008-07-02

Ubuntu 8.04 and all up to date Updates fresh installed on Fujitsu laptop P 5010D.

Always see constant disk access except at login/password sequence. This has to be wearing my hard drive out.
I have seen many references to this problem on the Ubuntu forum with no fixes anyone can feel is a real fix. This problem has to be addressed, and is critical. Ubuntu users will go to another OS, fearing damage to their hard drive. None of us want to see that. Outside of this problem, Ubuntu is a great system.I have no problem like this on my desktop, just the laptop. Almost all of the complaints refer to a laptop.

I need to know if the Ubuntu Team is looking into to this problem, and will fix it soon.

Please help, thanks,

Don DeGregori

Question information

Language:
English Edit question
Status:
Solved
For:
Ubuntu Edit question
Assignee:
No assignee Edit question
Solved by:
Harvey Muller
Solved:
2008-07-04
Last query:
2008-07-04
Last reply:
2008-07-04
Harvey Muller (hlmuller) said : #1

Don,

This has been a known issue for some time. Here's the main bug:

High frequency of load/unload cycles on some hard disks may shorten lifetime
https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/acpi-support/+bug/59695

If you read through the bug, it seems the bug is drive and/or laptop dependent. For example, my hard drive does not have the problem.

There are a few comments relative to fujitsu harddrives, with possible fixes. I'm guessing since your laptop is a fujitsu, then so may your drive.

Please report back here and mark the question status Solved if it resolves your question.

Thanks!

Harvey

Saša Teković (hseagle2015) said : #2

Have you tried disabling indexing? Go to System > Settings > Search and indexing and then uncheck "Enable indexing" option in General tab.

I'm not sure if this can be related with your problem, but is worth of trying.

Harvey Muller (hlmuller) said : #3

Just a comment on the indexing, it is disabled by default on new Hardy installations. But that is a good point, high disk activity could be a symptom of indexing, or perhaps the use of tripwire or aide. But I think donde's issue may be hardware related.

donde (don1mh) said : #4

Hello all,

Indexing is not enabled In Ubuntu 8.04. To kind of prove it is not a hardware issue, I have Puppy Linux 4.00 on the same HD. It is booted with its CD, but then uses the HD to bring the OS up. I have no problem with constant disk access. It seems only Ubuntu has this problem with laptops, not just mine. People should not have to do these "fixes" that people talk about. When XP was on this laptop, I had nothing even close to the disk access I'm seeing now. It is a software design problem of Ubuntu that shows up in many laptops. I see so many updates from Ubuntu, most of which I have no idea of what they do. If Ubuntu was selling their OS on store shelves, people would not put up with it. People here are well intentioned, but the Ubuntu should step up to the plate and fix it.

I even downloaded the latest Ubuntu 8.10 Alpha-1 alternate. It's now installed on another partition of the same laptop. SAME PROBLEM. Maybe, (don't hold your breath) when final release comes out, constant disk access will be gone. I just don't the Design Team is not very interested, while we eventually replace our HD's. NO JOY!

Thanks all for the suggestions. Right now I'm using my desktop, Ubuntu 8.04, no problem.

donde

Harvey Muller (hlmuller) said : #5

donde,

Just for clarification purposes, there are two methods of installing, and you didn't mention which you used. A frugal install will definitely be low impact on a harddrive, because it loads everything into ram and operates from ram. A full install however will operate from the harddrive. Even so, a better comparison would be between Ubuntu and Fedora. If you don't get disk thrashing in Fedora, then I would consider it fair evidence that the Ubuntu distribution is the culprit. Puppy linux just doesn't use as many different systems as the "grown up" systems do. I do not mean to say Puppy is a toy, just that it cannot do everything I do and expect from Ubuntu.

It is too general a statement to say Ubuntu has this problem with [all] laptops. The one I'm using for instance, a Dell Inspiron, does not have the issue. You will find that linux support for laptops in general, is a function of the hardware a manufacture puts in side and how the laptop was designed. And whether or not hardware specification documentation is available for the hardware that is installed.

"The Ubuntu" as you have called it is a very large collaboration of people that work to make it better, from all over the world. Canonical, the business arm, is the only real paid support with the exception of companies that let their developers freely work on linux. And as you can imagine, Canonical focuses on it's business clients. That leaves mostly volunteers to report and fix issues. I myself am just a user, volunteering to help others.

If you would like to ensure your specific harddrive gets fixed, you should participate in the bug report I mentioned earlier or create a new one. That is the process by which I personally ensured all of the hardware and systems on my laptop work in Ubuntu. What does not get reported, does not get fixed.

I hope I have clarified this for you. I hope you also understand that I am not trying to be critical, just to amplify.

And if I have resolved your question, I hope you will mark the question Solved.

Thanks!

donde (don1mh) said : #6

Harvey,
Yes, I'm using frugal install of Puppy and it's an unfair comparison.
But, I have had other Linux distros on this laptop without any
noticeable problem. Also, I didn't say ALL laptops, but many have this
problem. The forum is full of exasperated people with my same problem,
or variations of it. I really believe tweaking the HD with parameter
changes that were not intended by the manufacture is not correct, and
could shorten its life, too. I understand this is a complicated issue.
But, I don't see anything from the higher ups even suggesting they are
working on it. We are surly not going to replace our laptops just to see
if another one would not have the problem. So, I consider this bug not
solved for me.

By the way, it's also unsolved for Ubuntu 8.10 Alpha-1, which I have on
the same machine in a different partition.

I know there are many bugs in software that many smart gurus are working
on and are contributing to the overall enhancement of Ubuntu. And we all
appreciate the effort. I do not have the knowledge or experience to
help. So, I'm not downplaying this effort at all.

I am going try this: I just ordered an 8 GB SSD ($200) to replace my
laptop HD, partly to gain knowledge about SSD, and also hoping it will
fix the constant disk access I have now.

Thanks for your insight, donde

Harvey Muller wrote:
> Your question #38043 on Ubuntu changed:
> https://answers.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+question/38043
>
> Status: Open => Answered
>
> Harvey Muller proposed the following answer:
> donde,
>
> Just for clarification purposes, there are two methods of installing,
> and you didn't mention which you used. A frugal install will definitely
> be low impact on a harddrive, because it loads everything into ram and
> operates from ram. A full install however will operate from the
> harddrive. Even so, a better comparison would be between Ubuntu and
> Fedora. If you don't get disk thrashing in Fedora, then I would
> consider it fair evidence that the Ubuntu distribution is the culprit.
> Puppy linux just doesn't use as many different systems as the "grown up"
> systems do. I do not mean to say Puppy is a toy, just that it cannot do
> everything I do and expect from Ubuntu.
>
> It is too general a statement to say Ubuntu has this problem with [all]
> laptops. The one I'm using for instance, a Dell Inspiron, does not have
> the issue. You will find that linux support for laptops in general, is
> a function of the hardware a manufacture puts in side and how the laptop
> was designed. And whether or not hardware specification documentation
> is available for the hardware that is installed.
>
> "The Ubuntu" as you have called it is a very large collaboration of
> people that work to make it better, from all over the world. Canonical,
> the business arm, is the only real paid support with the exception of
> companies that let their developers freely work on linux. And as you
> can imagine, Canonical focuses on it's business clients. That leaves
> mostly volunteers to report and fix issues. I myself am just a user,
> volunteering to help others.
>
> If you would like to ensure your specific harddrive gets fixed, you
> should participate in the bug report I mentioned earlier or create a new
> one. That is the process by which I personally ensured all of the
> hardware and systems on my laptop work in Ubuntu. What does not get
> reported, does not get fixed.
>
> I hope I have clarified this for you. I hope you also understand that I
> am not trying to be critical, just to amplify.
>
> And if I have resolved your question, I hope you will mark the question
> Solved.
>
> Thanks!
>
>

Harvey Muller (hlmuller) said : #7

donde,

Great work on the bug report! Don't be discouraged, he's given you what he needs to be successful in resolving the issue on your hardware. I've just tested iotop myself, and it works like a charm. As Chris described, it identifies the process that is causing frequent disk access.

If you wish, I will walk you through the process of adding the repository and installing iotop, so you can add the information to your bug report that the developer needs.

Just let me know.

Thanks,

Harvey

donde (don1mh) said : #8

Harvey,

Yes, please do walk me through. The web page is a bit confusing. I'll be
standing by. I did get e-mail from Chris Coulsom, indicating what to do.

donde

Harvey Muller wrote:
> Your question #38043 on Ubuntu changed:
> https://answers.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+question/38043
>
> Status: Open => Answered
>
> Harvey Muller proposed the following answer:
> donde,
>
> Great work on the bug report! Don't be discouraged, he's given you what
> he needs to be successful in resolving the issue on your hardware.
> I've just tested iotop myself, and it works like a charm. As Chris
> described, it identifies the process that is causing frequent disk
> access.
>
> If you wish, I will walk you through the process of adding the
> repository and installing iotop, so you can add the information to your
> bug report that the developer needs.
>
> Just let me know.
>
> Thanks,
>
> Harvey
>
>

Harvey Muller (hlmuller) said : #9

donde,

Ok, I'll give you a walk through. I would be interested later to know where his instructions differ from mine, as a point of personal learning.

First, add the ppa to your software sources:

1. Navigate to System > Administration > Software Sources

2. Go to the Third-Party Software tab

3. Click the Add button

4. In the Apt Line box type:

    deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/tormodvolden/ubuntu hardy main

5. Click Add Source

6. Click Close

7. Click Reload

Now that the software sources have been updated you can install iotop using your favorite method. This is what I used in a terminal:

    $ sudo aptitude install iotop

That's it for the installation of iotop. Using it is a simple matter also. I found it best to maximize the terminal before running the command. Then just run in the terminal:

    $ iotop

The process which are using the most IO will be at the top. The process name you will report will be in the COMMAND column. When you see a number other than zero pop up in the WRITE column, then you want to write down the name of that process. Report the name(s) of the process(es) back to Chris in the bug.

Please report back here and mark the question Solved if this resolves your question.

Thanks!

Harvey

donde (don1mh) said : #10

Harvey,

Was able to do the iotop test and found a couple PID's that showed up in
write column.
Sent info to Chris.

Your instructions worked well. Thanks

Don

Harvey Muller wrote:
> Your question #38043 on Ubuntu changed:
> https://answers.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+question/38043
>
> Status: Open => Answered
>
> Harvey Muller proposed the following answer:
> donde,
>
> Ok, I'll give you a walk through. I would be interested later to know
> where his instructions differ from mine, as a point of personal
> learning.
>
> First, add the ppa to your software sources:
>
> 1. Navigate to System > Administration > Software Sources
>
> 2. Go to the Third-Party Software tab
>
> 3. Click the Add button
>
> 4. In the Apt Line box type:
>
> deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/tormodvolden/ubuntu hardy main
>
> 5. Click Add Source
>
> 6. Click Close
>
> 7. Click Reload
>
> Now that the software sources have been updated you can install iotop
> using your favorite method. This is what I used in a terminal:
>
> $ sudo aptitude install iotop
>
> That's it for the installation of iotop. Using it is a simple matter
> also. I found it best to maximize the terminal before running the
> command. Then just run in the terminal:
>
> $ iotop
>
> The process which are using the most IO will be at the top. The process
> name you will report will be in the COMMAND column. When you see a
> number other than zero pop up in the WRITE column, then you want to
> write down the name of that process. Report the name(s) of the
> process(es) back to Chris in the bug.
>
> Please report back here and mark the question Solved if this resolves
> your question.
>
> Thanks!
>
> Harvey
>
>

Harvey Muller (hlmuller) said : #11

donde,

Chris has asked you for some additional output. He's provided a link with instructions on how to provide the information. It is pretty straightforward, but if you have any questions on how to provide the input, please let me know.

For the "free -m" input he has requested, you can provide it similarly as the other items:

     $ free -m > free-m.log

Then you would just attach free-m.log to the bug report in a comment. You don't have to say anything in the comment, the attachment is self-explanatory. You will have to do this for each item he has requested.

Please report back here and mark the question Solved if this resolves your question.

Thanks,

Harvey

donde (don1mh) said : #12

Hello Guys,
I think I found the problem! This Futjitsu enables one to slid out the
CD-RW, to maybe add another HD. Never have removed it till now. All
constant disk activity of HD has ceased!

So, in order for you guys to go on to bigger problems, I believe I can
live with this problem, just by removing the CD when I'll be doing long
term use of Ubuntu and don't need the CD.

Unless, discovering the related hardware, you can zero in more? There
are 2 icons, and I should have mentioned this. One looks like a CD, and
the other looks like a stack of CD's (the HD). Both were flashing, but
the CD icon was flashing more frequently. I really suspected the HD,
because of all the talk and worry about damage. So, it seems the CD-RW
is more suspect now, for sure. The CD icon was flashing once a second,
while the HD icon was flashing about every 5 seconds (a bit more random).

Thanks, everyone for sticking it out with me. It's going to be fun to
try the SSD when I get it next week. Then, maybe I can stick the CD-RW
back in with no flashing!
Weird stuff!

Again, appreciate all your help. I'll stick with Ubuntu. Please pass
this on to Chris.

Don (donde)

Harvey Muller wrote:
> Your question #38043 on Ubuntu changed:
> https://answers.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+question/38043
>
> Status: Open => Answered
>
> Harvey Muller proposed the following answer:
> donde,
>
> Chris has asked you for some additional output. He's provided a link
> with instructions on how to provide the information. It is pretty
> straightforward, but if you have any questions on how to provide the
> input, please let me know.
>
> For the "free -m" input he has requested, you can provide it similarly
> as the other items:
>
> $ free -m > free-m.log
>
> Then you would just attach free-m.log to the bug report in a comment.
> You don't have to say anything in the comment, the attachment is self-
> explanatory. You will have to do this for each item he has requested.
>
> Please report back here and mark the question Solved if this resolves
> your question.
>
> Thanks,
>
> Harvey
>
>

Best Harvey Muller (hlmuller) said : #13

Hi donde,

Glad to hear you found the culprit!

Please return to the question in Launchpad and change the status to Solved:

    https://answers.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+question/38043

I'll leave a note for Chris in the bug, so it can be closed.

Thanks!

Harvey

donde (don1mh) said : #14

Harvey,

I would like to remove iotop. Is it easy to do? Oh, I believe I see it
in Synaptic. Is there any more extra to do?

I'll close the bug.

Don

Harvey Muller wrote:
> Your question #38043 on Ubuntu changed:
> https://answers.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+question/38043
>
> Status: Open => Answered
>
> Harvey Muller proposed the following answer:
> Hi donde,
>
> Glad to hear you found the culprit!
>
> Please return to the question in Launchpad and change the status to
> Solved:
>
> https://answers.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+question/38043
>
> I'll leave a note for Chris in the bug, so it can be closed.
>
> Thanks!
>
> Harvey
>
>

donde (don1mh) said : #15

Thanks Harvey Muller, that solved my question.