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Linux Annoyances for Geeks by Michael Jang

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My Hard Drive Is Too Slow

The defaults associated with the latest Linux distributions do not take full advantage of the latest improvements in IDE/ATA (Integrated Drive Electronics/Advanced Technology Attachment) hard drives. For example, Linux is normally set to communicate with IDE/ATA hard drives in 16-bit mode. While this may seem irrational in current 32- and 64-bit environments, it helps Linux retain its reputation for extending the life of older hardware. If you don't have an older hard drive, you can modify the Linux defaults to take full advantage of its data-transfer capabilities.

Before running any of the commands in this annoyance, I strongly suggest that you back up the data on your hard drive. The commands described in this annoyance may stress your hard drive beyond its capabilities. For best results during the backup, set your computer to single-user mode (init 1), which reduces the load from most services and network connections.

In this annoyance, we focus on the hdparm command, based on a Freshmeat project of the same name (http://freshmeat.net/projects/hdparm). If you can't find this command, install an hdparm package native to your distribution; it's available for at least Red Hat/Fedora, SUSE, and Debian.

Tip

For SCSI hard drives, there is no command to adjust hard drive parameters the way hdparm does for IDE hard drives. But given the way SCSI hard drives communicate with controllers, it is less important for these drives.

Hard Drive Defaults

Before adjusting any ...

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