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Ubuntu May Be Killing Your Laptop's Hard Drive

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the saving-power-at-what-cost dept.

Data Storage 419

wwrmn writes "There's a debate going on over at bugs.launchpad.net on whether it's the Ubuntu, BIOS, hard-drive manufacturer, or pick-any-player's fault, but Ubuntu (and perhaps any OS) may be dramatically shortening the life of your laptop's hard drive due to an aggressive power-saving feature / acpi bug / OS configuration. Regardless of where the fault lies or how it's fixed, you might want to take some actions now to try to prevent the damage."

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419 comments

The year of linux... (-1, Flamebait)

GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174149)

ruined harddrives, that is.

Re:The year of linux... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174203)

But Rob Malda said the year of Linux is passed. No joking, go look at his interview.

Ubuntu (2, Funny)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174153)

It seems to be killing Slashdot's hard drives also!

Re:Ubuntu (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174583)

Slashdot seems to be ok, but it looks like it killed launchpad.net's drives.

Re:Ubuntu (1)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174737)

I was getting an error message on Slashdot when trying to access this thread earlier. Maybe I was the only one. But it did seem like the story was on the front page for a long time before any comments were made.

Confused.... (0, Troll)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174167)

Kdawson FUD...I'm really confused....

SLASHDOT SUX0RZ (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174169)

_0_
\''\
'=o='
.|!|
.| |
ubuntu is the swahili word for buttsex [goatse.ch]

Ubuntu? Slashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174179)

Slashdot definitely killed the launchpad server.

The Ubuntu (3, Insightful)

bazald (886779) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174201)

FTA:

When switching to battery power, /etc/acpi/power.sh issues the command hdparm -B 1 to all block devices. This leads to extremely frequent load cycles. For example, my new thinkpad has already done well over 7000 load cycles -- in only 100 hours. That's at least one unloading per minute. Googling for "load unload cycles notebook OR laptop" shows that most laptop drives handle up to 600,000 such cycles. As these values clearly show, this issue is of high importance and should be fixed sooner rather than later.
It definitely sounds like it is "the Ubuntu" that is at fault in this case. Where is the room for doubt?

Re:The Ubuntu (2, Informative)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174345)

Something's goofy... I just switch my Inspiron 9400 to battery power. It's only been about 10 minutes, but so far my Load_Cycle is sticking at 1 where it started. I'm not seeing this problem. It might be laptop-specific.

Re:The Ubuntu (5, Informative)

TypoNAM (695420) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174505)

According to gentoo-wiki.com/MAN_hdparm [gentoo-wiki.com] -B is:
Set Advanced Power Management feature, if the drive supports it. A low value means aggressive power management and a high value means better performance. A value of 255 will disable apm on the drive.

I would say blame the hard drive vendor.

Re:The Ubuntu (5, Informative)

timster (32400) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174537)

Actually, if you R(TRO)TFA, you'll find that Ubuntu is not issuing that command at all. Rather, this is a default set by the drive manufacturer.

Re:The Ubuntu (5, Informative)

kebes (861706) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174565)

First off, putting a launchpad link on the frontpage of Slashdot is bad form. Launchpad is for discussing and resolving bugs, and we're not helping by swamping that page. It might be better if people read the wiki that has been set up to summarize the issue [ubuntu.com] .

In answer to your question about how this isn't Ubuntu's fault, apparently the problem is that the manufacturer sets certain default values for "aggressive power management" and enables this aggressive power management by default. Ubuntu's policy is to not change the manufacturer defaults, and simply uses them. Unfortunately these defaults are "too aggressive" and cause the hard drive to park/unpark too frequently.

But Ubuntu is not blameless. First of all, if Ubuntu can push out a patch that resets the manufacturer defaults to sane values (and this will save some people from hard drive failures), then it definitely should. Also, there is some discussion that perhaps an Ubuntu daemon is probing the hard disk too frequently, so that the hard-drive can't sit in the parked state for long enough to actually make it a useful feature.

Regardless of who is to blame, it would appear that the Ubuntu devs should push out a patch that forces systems to ignore the manufacturer values, and use settings that will protect the drive lifetime.

Re:The Ubuntu (5, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174823)

I actually disagree. Sure, if the manufacturer issues a recommendation or something to change it, then by all means. Otherwise Ubuntu should just keep their hands off and let the HDD manufacturer deal with it. Does Windows automagically disable this behavior?

Re:The Ubuntu (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174601)

I have an Dell Inspiron 6400 running Gentoo. I had this problem too. I fixed it by adding

        # -B 255 doesn't work for me
        sda_args="-B 254 -S 60"

to /etc/conf.d/hdparm. This would fix the issue on boot, but after resuming, this would be moot. For that, I added

        # redo hdparm settings on resume /etc/init.d/hdparm restart

after running /etc/acpi/suspend.sh in /etc/acpi/default.sh, though I suppose I could have put that line somwhere in suspend.sh.

The key thing here is to run hdparm on boot *and* on resume

Re:The Ubuntu (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174725)

Damn you cursed slashdot! There was a newline in there!

# redo hdparm settings on resume
/etc/init.d/hdparm restart

in /etc/acpi/default.sh

Ubuntu (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174223)

but Ubuntu [...] may be dramatically shortening the life of your laptop's hard drive due to an aggressive power-saving feature
I always thought that Gibbon was just a bit too gutsy!

wow, I had Ubuntu kill a laptop hard drive . . . (1)

proclivity76 (755220) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174231)

Might have been coincidence, but I did have it happen.

Re:wow, I had Ubuntu kill a laptop hard drive . . (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174379)

Same here. I had my Hitachi Hard drive that came with the laptop die. Not was if it was the OS though.

no problem, really! (5, Funny)

loafula (1080631) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174235)

I'll just buy another 4 hard drives with the money I saved not buying Vista!

Re:no problem, really! (4, Informative)

blazerw11 (68928) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174805)

I'll just buy another 4 hard drives with the money I saved not buying Vista!

You may not have to. My Toshiba Satellite M45 has been running Ubuntu since Edgy, 6.10 and has a "Load_Cycle_Count" of 5,416. Maybe the default install does not have this issue? Maybe you have to install some other package to create the problem? It's not "laptop-mode-tools" because I have that installed. Do you have to be on battery power?

It's still 5,416.

193 Load_Cycle_Count 0x0032 100 100 000 Old_age Always - 5416

Re:no problem, really! (0, Troll)

metlin (258108) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174903)

Eh.

I'd rather spend the extra money on Vista/Windows than have an OS that could potentially crash my hard-drive. And given the fact that laptops are all that some of us use, it's not worth the extra effort (assuming the article is right, of course).

Prevent damage?? (4, Funny)

kusanagi374 (776658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174241)

Yeah, sure. Whatever it is, it can't be compared to the damage done to Ubuntu's launchpad after it was slashdotted.

Once they control the fire and get the backup server online, maybe I'll be able to RTFA. :(

That's not what I'm worried about (-1, Troll)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174247)

When they fix it so I don't have to do complicated manual edits the xorg config file to get more than a lousy 1024×768 screen resolution and support for a projector or dual displays, THEN I'll worry about the powersave problems. Until then, this is the LEAST of Ubuntu's problems with a modern laptop.

What's the matter, prettyboy... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174339)

...can't get Ubuntu to show your powerpoint graphs to the CxO?

(guess if I'm trolling I should remember to click AC)

Re:That's not what I'm worried about (1)

jwsmith00 (262885) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174341)

So long as you have the correct video drivers, you should be able to do all of that. For Ubuntu 7.04, it was just a matter of downloading the NVidia drivers, installing them, and then you are able to run multiple displays. For Ubuntu 7.10, the most recent NVidia driver is already installed, so everythings good to go out of the box. However, Ubuntu 7.10, my laptop runs extremely hot, so I'm sticking with 7.04.

Re:That's not what I'm worried about (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174383)

Didn't work for 7.04 on my system even after I installed the nvidia driver. Haven't tried 7.10.

Re:That's not what I'm worried about (1)

kjkeefe (581605) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174607)

If you really have an nvidia card, you should try 7.10. They make installing the drivers a breeze. Once you have the nvidia driver installed, install nvidia-config and use it to setup your funky display options. It is a great tool put out by nVidia. I have a side-by-side dual monitor setup at home set up with 7.04 (moving to 7.10 soon) and it works like a charm. Kudos to nVidia!

Re:That's not what I'm worried about (3, Informative)

Cryophallion (1129715) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174581)

The new screens and graphics control panel is added to gnome so that you can now do this out of the box.
It shows two screens, and you can dual screen it or switch screens from the control panel. You may have to restart X for changes to take effect, however it is much better than it used to be. I had no problems selecting the right resolution for my computer (1280x1024).

AS for the hard drive throttling, that could be a serious issue, and one I am sure they will try to fix asap, especially with a Long Term Support version coming up next. They want that thing as bug free and stable as it can get, and something like this could hurt their rep. On the other hand, who's to say other OS's/distros aren't doing the same thing?

Re:That's not what I'm worried about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174729)

They have, more or less.

The gui tools seem to work for a lot of people; for me I use the command line as it offers more power.

The new xrandr support does the trick and then some. For example:

xrandr --output VGA --mode 1680x1050 --right-of LVDS --output LVDS --mode 1400x1050

This sets me up with dual monitors just fine on my laptop, and it works on-the-fly. (e.g. I can plug in a projector anytime I like; it doesn't have to be present in xorg.conf or plugged in when X starts).

Enjoy!

Re:That's not what I'm worried about (2, Funny)

Hayden Panettiere (1174137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174773)

I edited my xorg configuration file, and I'm just a girl! It's so easy that only a complete moron would have a problem with it.

Re:That's not what I'm worried about (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174875)

When they fix it so I don't have to do complicated manual edits the xorg config file to get more than a lousy 1024×768 screen resolution and support for a projector or dual displays ...

And those "edits" are more complicated than the edits you typically make in your "letter to mom" wordprocessing document?

Geez.

Look, if you don't understand the format of xorg.conf, that's fine. Admit you don't know how things work. Admittedly, there's lots to know, but it can be simple or complicated, depending on the setup. On the other hand, lots of people will be happy to chip in and give you a fully working configuration you can copy and paste ... just like you would in your wordprocessing document. And if you're lucky, you might even be able to use your mouse and not hurt your fingers typing a few characters. ;-)

But offering this inflammatory indictment that everything is fucked up because something doesn't work for you strikes me as somewhere between immature and simply childish. And suggesting that support for a feature doesn't exist because you haven't discovered it, can't find it, can't be bothered to try, or refuse to bother learning for yourself is telling everyone you're someone who should be ignored.

Ubuntu, like any distro, is a work in progress up against the vagaries of hardware vendors. Lots of people in lots of disparate areas are offering their hard work. They deserve respect, irrespective of whether things work out of the box for a random Slashdot user. Multimonitor support? High resolutions? They work for me. What's *your* problem?

Next time, instead of brandishing your complaints, maybe take a more constructive approach. Say it didn't work for you. Admit you didn't try very much. Ask for help. You might be surprised at the response.

Apology. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174251)

"Regardless of where the fault lies or how it's fixed, you might want to take some actions now to try to prevent the damage."

This is apologist language. I should know, because I am one. "Whatever your opinion about allowing people to own private property, you'll agree that..."

Thanks for slashdotting launchpad, guys. (2, Informative)

Benanov (583592) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174263)

I just got two Thinkpads at auction I wanted to put Ubuntu on. Launchpad is hit so hard I can't even subscribe to the bug to search for potential workarounds or better settings. :(

Re:Thanks for slashdotting launchpad, guys. (1)

ChicoLance (318143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174331)

I've got a Thinkpad T42 with Ubuntu Gutsy on (and have had earlier versions), and although I haven't gotten to the article yet, Ubuntu seems to work very well on my laptop.

Re:Thanks for slashdotting launchpad, guys. (5, Funny)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174349)

here is a good workaround: http://www.debian.org/ [debian.org]

Much as I love debian (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174533)

I can't get the bugger to install on my new Vaio SZ

It just kinda sits there and hangs during install. Which is a shame as I love the debian OS in general.

Re:Thanks for slashdotting launchpad, guys. (5, Informative)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174517)

Workaround #1. Edit /etc/hdparm.conf, add the following to the end (or modify the existing /dev/sda area, etc. This assumes your primary disk is your only disk and you're using SATA):

/dev/sda {
apm = 255
spindown_time = 0
}

Then enter "sudo update-rc.d hdparm defaults" to ensure the changes take effect.

Workaround #2, edit /etc/apm/event.d/20hdparm, find the line "APMD_SPINDOWN=18" and add a zero to it (APMD_SPINDOWN=180). Again enter "sudo update-rc.d hdparm defaults".

The first of the options disables the whole spinning down thing. The second changes it so it spins down less (every 15 minutes rather than every minute and a half.)

At least, that's what the Launchpad contributors claim.

MOD UP PLEASE (n/t) (1)

fritsd (924429) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174657)

PP gives a plausible sounding solution.

AHA! :D (4, Funny)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174267)

That's why I use windows. So I don't have to wonder who the culprit is ;)

^_^

Re:AHA! :D (4, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174371)

That's why I use windows. So I don't have to wonder who the culprit is
Oh? Then you've never been caught in the "it's the graphics driver, no it's the motherboard, no it's the OS, no it's the graphics driver," loop.

Re:AHA! :D (2, Interesting)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174473)

Heh,actually, buying Windows Vista solved a problem I'd been having, random reboots during WoW and only WoW under xp. No blue screens nothing, just poof death and hey look, I have 2gb of ram wheeeeeeeeee.

Well, after buying Vista (was only +/- 18 euros since I work for an educational institution) I got a reboot too, after a nice blue screen. Best part about Vista for me is, it shows the info from the blue screen next time you boot up. I googled the error, did a little digging and it turns out 1 bios setting was wonky.
The one that clocks the cpu back if it thinks you don't need performance.
After turning that off, I never had the problem to this day.

So in all honesty, Vista works fine for me (I know it doesn't for others) and it was dirt cheap to boot :)

Re:AHA! :D (2, Informative)

HunterZ (20035) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174617)

You can set XP to show a bluescreen instead of just rebooting. I'm guessing you had it set to just reboot instead.

Re:AHA! :D (1)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174645)

I know that, it's one of the first things I configure after I install XP on a system (that and turning off sounds and turning off the annoying error messages except the fatal ones).

Windows Sysadmin here :)
(this will not make myself some friends here ;)

Friend (1)

Zashi (992673) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174881)

I'll be your friend.
(IBM ServeRAID tester)
(I test mostly with Linux)
(Sometimes windows) :)

Re:Friend (1)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174925)

Wheeeeeeeee, I've got a friend.

Seriously though, Linux (in all/most its incarnations) is damn good.
Fast, stable and really usefull (sp?)

But I've always been a windows user, gamer, etc. It just doesn't do it for me, but that's ok, to each his own right?
  ^_^

Re:AHA! :D (1)

tha_mink (518151) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174927)

Wait a minute! You're a Windows sysadmin and you said this...

Heh,actually, buying Windows Vista solved a problem I'd been having, random reboots during WoW and only WoW under xp. No blue screens nothing, just poof death and hey look, I have 2gb of ram wheeeeeeeeee. Well, after buying Vista (was only +/- 18 euros since I work for an educational institution) I got a reboot too, after a nice blue screen. Best part about Vista for me is, it shows the info from the blue screen next time you boot up. I googled the error, did a little digging and it turns out 1 bios setting was wonky.
How can you be a sysadmin and NOT know that you could have been doing the same thing with XP? And if you DID know, then why didn't you do the same thing when you were in XP? Doesn't sound like you're a very good sysadmin.

Re:AHA! :D (1)

AP2k (991160) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174829)

Then you should have enabled BSODs:

By default when WinXP encounters a system failure, it reboots without warning. The setting that controls this can be changed:
Control Panel/System/Advanced/Settings (Startup & Recovery)/System Failure/Uncheck-Automatically Restart. To view the event log: Administrative Tools/Event Viewer or Start/Run/eventvwr.To bypass the BSOD altogether and enable the instant "Auto Reboot" feature: Start/Run/Regedit
http://kellys-korner-xp.com/win_xp_restart.htm [kellys-korner-xp.com]

Re:AHA! :D (1)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174847)

read my other reply in the thread, already did that :)

May be FUD, but it happened to me (0, Offtopic)

Tim_sama (993132) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174279)

I installed Ubuntu about 2 weeks ago, and somehow the installation screwed up my hard drive completely. I even tried a low-level format; nothing worked. At the time, I figured it was GRUB that had done it, but according to this news, it was Ubuntu. Which is really sad, because I was planning to finally complete that jump to Linux. Oh well, once this problem is resolved somehow, maybe I'll give it another shot.

Re:May be FUD, but it happened to me (1)

baadger (764884) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174563)

I installed Ubuntu about 2 weeks ago, and somehow the installation screwed up my hard drive completely...*snip* At the time, I figured it was GRUB that had done it, but according to this news, it was Ubuntu.

Even assuming this bug effected you 2 weeks ago and taking it to its maximum impact this bug still probably wouldn't have killed your drive in such a short time. My immediate suspicion is a faulty drive.

How exactly is the drive hosed?

Re:May be FUD, but it happened to me (1)

number11 (129686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174699)

installed Ubuntu about 2 weeks ago, and somehow the installation screwed up my hard drive completely... according to this news, it was Ubuntu.

No. (I haven't read TFA because it's still slashdotted, but...) Apparently the article says it cycles the power too quickly, which leads to premature failure. Not screwing the drive up immediately, but wearing it out too soon.

If the drive screwed up immediately upon installing Ubuntu in a dual boot with a copy of Windows that had been used some already, I'd put money on it being partition problems. Ubuntu installs nicely on a clean fresh system, but if Windows is there already and the existing drive data is too odd (fragmented, swap file fragmented and/or seriously separated from the rest of the data, multiple partitions, whatever) the repartitioning may not go well. The repartitioning software (I forget what it is) is not smart enough to stop and tell you "hey, you gotta clean this drive up before I make changes" (or to deal with doing the cleanup itself).

Ubuntu? (5, Insightful)

keithjr (1091829) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174289)

If perhaps it could be "any OS" then why headline this as "Ubuntu" killing laptops? I can't find much in TFA that makes a compelling case that it isn't APCI. I'd read more but that page hurts my eyes.

So what's new? (1, Interesting)

TheBrutalTruth (890948) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174291)

OpenSuse 10.2 does to, without some tweaking. I'd wager other distros have the same or similar issue. I love *nix, but it it not ready for primetime yet, with bugs like that. I shudder to think of the call from my old man, where I have to explain that he has to rebuild (like he could of in the first place) his PC with pci=nomsi and acpi=forceirqpoll in the boot options so his high dollar toy isn't ruined.

Re:So what's new? (0, Flamebait)

TheBrutalTruth (890948) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174403)

Flamebait??? Who taught you to mod - G.W. Bush? Ubuntu fanboys are reeeeel sensitive, methinks.

Re:So what's new? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174811)

I love *nix, but it it not ready for primetime yet
... unix isnt ready for primetime?

Isn't this what is supposed to happen? (5, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174333)

I mean, the OSS community at large finds a problem, and sets about to fix it... from the link:

Ralf Nieuwenhuijsen wrote on 2007-10-25: (permalink)

May i just warn ya all to NOT play the blame-game?

It does sound like it's the fault of the BIOS (and somebody should contact them).

To rescue a hard-drive in distress sounds like something that should have a high-priority (critical?).
Not because it's ubuntu's fault or the bios fault. But because Ubuntu can solve this issue _now_.
Doesn't sound like it is NOT being dealt with, it just isn't listed everywhere as critical and in the news all over the intarweb tubes.

Old news??? (5, Informative)

BUL2294 (1081735) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174347)

From the now very overloaded page...

Bug #59695, first reported on 2006-09-09.
Apparently there has been no rush to fix it. Now that /. has picked it up and the site is being bombarded, how long till it gets fixed???

Testify (-1, Redundant)

candle1976 (1181883) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174385)

I work with Windows all day, so I get a bit bored with knacking about on it at home. I installed Ubuntu 7.04 on my laptop, and within a month my HDD had failed. Needless to say, I won't be doing that again anytime soon. It sucks too, as I had finally gotten things right where I wanted them with programs, etc. Ubuntu is the best of the Linux crop right now, but if it's going to thrash hardware, it'll die real quick.

Effects on Dell/Ubuntu OEM? (3, Interesting)

kusanagi374 (776658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174387)

I wonder what is the effect of this bug on officially endorsed and supported Dell notebooks with Ubuntu on them? Wouldn't something like this be caught up by Dell's QA? Or is it exclusive to 7.10?

Re:Effects on Dell/Ubuntu OEM? (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174459)

Since the bug is over a year old, I doubt is exclusive to 7.10.

I will imagine that Dell will shorten the warantee on their drives and make more money replacing them. At least until people get pissed.

Re:Effects on Dell/Ubuntu OEM? (1)

slack_prad (942084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174621)

The bug has been tagged to all supported ubuntu releases.

This thread sucks... (3, Insightful)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174429)

I mean, if it was Windows that was destroying laptop hard drives, this would have been a legendary thread, with viciously bashing comments, insightfully (40%) funny (20%) attacks against MS, Vista drama etc.
With Ubuntu as the culprit there is some sort of "respect" that kills the potential of the thread. Come on guys, it is not Linux, it is just Ubuntu. What are the SuSE/RH/etc fans waiting for?

Re:This thread sucks... (3, Informative)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174649)

> I mean, if it was Windows that was destroying laptop hard drives, this would have been a
> legendary thread, with viciously bashing comments, insightfully (40%) funny (20%) attacks
> against MS, Vista drama etc.

Of course, because all laptops are DESIGNED for Windows so if it doesn't work abuse and ridicule should be heaped on them if it was hitting multiple hardware vendors with the only common factor the OS vendor.

But this case is tricky. I just read through the thread and most people there are paniced sheep just turning off all power management because they don't EVER want the hdd to unload. They don't understand the three year replacement cycle all PC hardware is designed around, it is BUILT to FAIL. Looks like there IS a problem of some sort though because some people are reporting unload followed almost instantly by a load. But power management remains one of the areas of PCs that vary wildly in totally undocumented ways not only from vendor to vendor and model to model but from minor BIOS revisions. It is a non-trivial problem.

Re:This thread sucks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174727)

What are the SuSE/RH/etc fans waiting for?

They're too busy fixing their Ubuntu installations.

Bullshit (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174733)

Looking at the comments right now, most of them that are critical of Linux are being moderated up quickly. The days of proclaiming slashdot pro-linux bias are gone, slashdot nowadays is a collection of smug mac zealots and bitter windows die-hards attacking anyone who dares say they enjoy using Linux.

Bullshit on your bullshit (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174911)

Apparently anything that isn't a slobbery love fest on Linus's dick isn't enough for you. Too bad, this is the real world where nothing is perfect. Sorry, jerky.

Missing the point... (3, Insightful)

msimm (580077) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174781)

With Vista it's Microsoft's fault. With Ubuntu (or any open source project) technically, it's our fault. So if you're confused about the missing flames maybe you need to rethink what Open means.

Re:This thread sucks... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174863)

it is not Linux, it is just Ubuntu.
Ubuntu isn't Linux. Ubuntu is for homasexuals

Selected Excerpts (5, Informative)

asphaltjesus (978804) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174457)

From Google's cache:

When switching to battery power, /etc/acpi/power.sh issues the command hdparm -B 1 to all block devices. This leads to extremely frequent load cycles. For example, my new thinkpad has already done well over 7000 load cycles -- in only 100 hours. That's at least one unloading per minute. Googling for "load unload cycles notebook OR laptop" shows that most laptop drives handle up to 600,000 such cycles. As these values clearly show, this issue is of high importance and should be fixed sooner rather than later.

The command hdparm -b 255 turn off completely APM.

Here is how I permanently fixed it:

1) make a file named "99-hdd-spin-fix.sh". The important thing is starting with "99".
2) make sure the file contains the following 2 lines (fix it if you have PATA HDD):
#!/bin/sh
hdparm -B 255 /dev/sda
3) copy this file to 3 locations: /etc/acpi/suspend.d/ /etc/acpi/resume.d/ /etc/acpi/start.d/

Voila! After that the HDD never spins down on power (looks like it actually spins down on battery at modest rate).
Sorry if the instruction is too detailed, no offense.

An alternative to the "99-hdd-spin-fix.sh" fix is to install and enable the package laptop-mode-tools,
then customize /etc/laptop-mode/laptop-mode.conf, setting

Re:Selected Excerpts (4, Interesting)

tchuladdiass (174342) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174579)

The main problem is a combination of the short spindown time, and something wanting to write out to the drive every 30 seconds or so. The main culprit could be the fact that by default, a files last access time (atime) gets updated on every read, even if that read comes from cache. So when the drive is spun down, it gets spun up even on cached reads (to write out the atime).
Add "-o noatime" to the filesystems in /etc/fstab, and that should clear up the issue.

noatime by itself doesn't make a difference (2, Informative)

Krischi (61667) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174835)

I have been running noatime for as long as I have been running Ubuntu and still had been seeing insanely high load cycle counts until I applied the hdparm -B fix. There is something else going on.

Re:Selected Excerpts (1)

SEAL (88488) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174899)

The main problem is a combination of the short spindown time, and something wanting to write out to the drive every 30 seconds or so.

First, my perspective: yes, I had a laptop drive die while running an older version of Ubuntu. I'm not sure if the problem is still present in current builds, though, as I haven't used it in awhile.

On to what I quoted -- one problem with the default Ubuntu setup is ext3. The system will periodically write out to the journal even when it is otherwise idle. This occurs even if you have noatime set in your fstab.

people really run this trash? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174465)

i always thought it was some kind of in joke. man, sorry to hear that you guys actually use this like it's something worthwhile.

i hate to say this but: (-1, Offtopic)

blhack (921171) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174467)

Just buy the warranty for it.
Honestly, I was just on the phone with HP about it last night, the warranty for my laptop is about 200 bucks....this covers EVERYTHING (including, the very very cute sounding persian girl from canada told me, dropping it into a tank of water while its still running).

I know that slashdot is home to some hard-core hardware nerds, and some very legit engineers, but Come on guys, how many of us can replace a video card that is soldered onto the motherboard.

This will be the 2nd time that i have had to use the warranty for my laptop (meaning i'm batting 2 for 2 right now).

If you're like me, and actually USE your laptop for its intended purpose (meaning having it thrown in the back of a car for countless trips for coffee) for god's sake

BUY THE STINKING WARRANTY FOR IT!

Re:i hate to say this but: (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174655)

Warranty means jack shit as you still need to deal with the annoyance of a dead hard drive. MY time is worth something and this is not how I want to spend it.

This includes:
-Downtime until you get a replacement
-Time to set up replacement back to the state of the old machine
-Annoyance of having to file warranty claim, package laptop and send it out (or drive to whatever local shop can do replacements)
-Bugs when replacement differs from old machine in negative ways (which you will of course be told is officially an "upgrade" or "current equivalent" so you can't complain even though to you its a major downgrade).
-Need to do constant hard drive images (and the space needed to store them). I think this requires a reboot which is annoying.
-Need to do constant backups to fill in holes if you can't image often enough.

Not Entirely Accurate (5, Insightful)

marcantonio (895721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174479)

It's important to note that this only occurs if ENABLE_LAPTOP_MODE is enabled. By default it is NOT set. From /etc/default/acpi-support:

# Switch to laptop-mode on battery power - off by default as it causes odd
# hangs on some machines
ENABLE_LAPTOP_MODE=false

Re:Not Entirely Accurate (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174639)

The comment in the file is misleading (there are other problems!), which is a bug all by itself. Just because it's not the default doesn't mean that people don't do it. Doesn't it say somewhere, "If you have a laptop, set ENABLE_LAPTOP_MODE"?

It is Entirely Accurate that this is a Bug.

Re:Not Entirely Accurate (1)

marcantonio (895721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174839)

Doesn't it say somewhere, "If you have a laptop, set ENABLE_LAPTOP_MODE"?

No, it doesn't.

It is Entirely Accurate that this is a Bug.

You're right it is a bug. But saying that Ubuntu is trashing your HD is a gross exaggeration.

Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174751)

Your comment is incorrect. A stock install of kubuntu on my laptop AND desktop, on AC and DC, resulted in roughly 12 Load_Cycle_Count updates PER MINUTE. The clanking was driving me nuts, a hdparm B 250 put an end to that, but the way ubuntu handles this bug is plain silly. If Shuttleworth is trying to establish the Ubuntu brand blaming the BIOS is not helping him with that (this problem does not manifest itself with XP on the same hardware).
PS:
Anyone else had a flashback to the old CGA monitor and zipdrive days?

Bah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174481)

If you're somewhat intelligent you'll have backups anyway and when the disk dies it's just natures way of telling you that you need a bigger disk.

Blame Microsoft. (-1, Troll)

Erris (531066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174485)

It is defective by anti-competitive design [slashdot.org] and nearly impossible to make compliant or functional. GNU/Linux BIOS should be implemented by every maker and ACPI should be left behind as a costly non free mistake. Vista's failure [slashdot.org] presents the best chance for PC makers to liberate themselves from M$ domination and shoddy non-standards like ACPI.

Re:Blame Microsoft. (2, Funny)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174685)

Bravo. Now we just need someone to blame this on Bush, and everything is covered.

Re:Blame Microsoft. (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174741)

Hey everyone, that troll Twitter is back! I was wondering when he'd turn up again.

Re:Blame Microsoft. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174827)

Another level-headed, rational reaction from twitter.

Slashdot comment browsing is unusable (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174551)

I know this is offtopic, but who was the idiot who decided to make browsing comments on slashdot unusable?

I don't think I have the patience anymore to click "25 More" 934850293485 times just to be able to view comments.

Slashdot has finally, officially, jumped the shark.

Re:Slashdot comment browsing is unusable (1)

The Iso (1088207) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174739)

Get an account and enjoy all the benefits which that entails.

Cheap test.. (4, Informative)

delire (809063) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174571)

Ive tested on 3 Ubuntu laptops here and found no problem. Here's a little script to test yourselves (can't remember where i found the greppable bit - perhaps a Planet Ubuntu author).

Run this every hour and compare differences in the load count (the last value in the output written to the file 'load_count' in the current directory).. Replace /dev/sda with your own drive. Not sure which? sudo fdisk -l. You'll need smartmontools (sudo apt-get install smartmontools).

echo `sudo smartctl -a /dev/sda | grep Load_Cycle_Count` " | " `date` >> load_count

If the difference in this count is more than 90 from one hour to the next you may be in trouble if there is anything to this wear and tear fear.

Maybe this explains (2, Interesting)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174585)

All the bitching around my work about how hard drives used to last longer. With my limited cross section, I have 2 computers at home, both ca 1998, still running original hard drives, in fact I've obsoleted 6 workstations so far at home, none of them had hard drive failures, I had one PSU, one GPU, and one NIC failure. At work (mainly a IBM shop) I've had to replace about 20% of drives within 4 years (I admin 50 workstations). I realize there is a lot of variables, smaller read heads, faster spin rates etc, but it does seem that my old dinosaur home computers last longer than the newer PC's we have at work. I'd be curious if "power saving" is putting our data at risk.

Probably bad harddrive firmware (1)

chrb (1083577) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174597)

Well, that Ubuntu bug report is over 1 year old, and according to ThinkWiki [thinkwiki.org] , and as confirmed by several people on the thinkpads.com forums, updating the harddrive firmware may well fix the problem.

in a somewhat related note. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21174599)

the following is a true and slightly ontopic plaintext vicarious reenactment of an experience i encountered many moons ago. if you have something even vaguely similar i would love to hear about it, as this is the only case ive ever personally experienced (or heard of) and was a first hand witness to software destroying hardware in all my days.

at a small computer shop i once worked at, a woman brought in a packard bell 486 dx2 66 (iirc.)

back then we were ordering tons of those 'pcchips' all in one motherboards (this is back when all in one motherboards werent very common. onboard video was only barely starting to look like it would be commonplace, but onboard sound/modem/ethernet/etc were almost exclusively on these particular cheap boards).

so we yoink the old packard motherboard out and throw this one in, boot up install drivers everything went smooth and i considered it done. we had these annoying checklists i almost never did but for some reason this time i did, one of the last steps was checking the floppy drive. the floppy didnt work, so i changed physical drives and it still didnt work, changed cables etc. after awhile of testing i decided that the onboard floppy port on the board was defective from factory and we grabbed another allinone board off the stack, and this time, the first thing i did before anything was boot off a floppy and it worked fine.

reset the comp, let it boot into windows, and once again, the floppy goes out.

all in all i went through 5 boards (the last one just to be absolutely sure i had pinned down the exact problem).

you remember those aztech soundcard/modem combos? well, this particular packard bell had one, along with the very early dos pnp drivers in the config.sys. i hadnt bothered removing them, but, every time you would allow the computer to boot and actually process the config.sys, you would fry that particular models floppy port.

those boards were so insane. i remember one model had BOTH slot 1 and socket 370 onboard, that looked crazy. (it even had an onboard tvtuner iirc.) im amazed that brand is still around.

Mandriva? (1)

haeger (85819) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174631)

What about Mandriva? Does the bug affect them too?
Since my upgrade to Gutsy was less than smooth. I've got to reinstall the lot anyway and since Mandriva was a favourite of mine a few years back I might give them another go. I hear that they've cleaned up the mess they had back then.
So, how is it Mandriva guys. Do you also try to kill my HD or are you a safe (data)haven?

.haeger

Saving Power Has a Cost (4, Interesting)

Prototerm (762512) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174711)

The aggressive power saving settings here are perhaps a little too aggressive, but did anyone really think you could do that totally without cost? This isn't magic, you know. It's a trade-off. If you tell your computer (usually in a laptop) to spin down the hard drives to save power, you're going to cause greater wear-and-tear on the things because each time they spin down, they have to spin back up before you can use them again. If you want to save energy without the wear, turn the bloody thing off when you're not using it.

What, you're in too much of a hurry to view the latest pr0n? Chill, dude, before you go blind!

If you run a desktop, it's doubtful you'll have a problem with this, as most desktop users turn power saving features off entirely (and yeah, I also drive a big honkin' SUV. Bite me), but be careful on a laptop. If your hard drive supports SMART, you can do a quick check of the numbers (I think the one you want is # 193, IIRC), and see if you're at risk. But not all drives support SMART (I have a laptop drive that doesn't), so as usual, YMMV.

Is it really a Ubuntu problem? (0, Troll)

flayzernax (1060680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174765)

I seriously wonder how many other OS's are effected by a similar problem... any aggressive ACPI settings under any OS should kill hard rives...

I wouldn't consider it a "Bug" per see, so much as a configuration problem.

Under M$ this would never be patched... maybe in sp2a ... 2 years after the fact... and would be hard coded into the kernel some how... in some freakish way...

At least for the intelligent they've been able to fix it since it was discovered OVER a year ago.

Ive seen windows kill hard drives too and over more trivial issues.... and normal use.

Don't believe the FUD! lol...

Don't forget, some drives/BIOS are not affected it looks like either... just specific ones that are more susceptible to the funky settings.

Laptop hardware should be DESIGNED for such aggressive power management, sounds like they used a drive not suited to being on/off to cut power...

A server stays on 100% of the time, even when its load avg is low specifically to save the hardware.

Tags.. (0, Flamebait)

Devv (992734) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174775)

Tags if you replace all instances of Ubuntu with Vista:
haha, defectivebydesign, MS, vistafailure, vista

So Ubuntu can ruin hardware? (3, Interesting)

Boojumbunn (1003095) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174789)

You know, it's funny. A while back there was an outcry about manufacturers who decided that installing linux nullified your warrenty. This incident makes me wonder if maybe they have a point? After all... they have likely tested the hardware for long term windows reliability. They probably haven't tested their hardware for long term Linux reliability (through all the various linux types and settings.)

That said, they could probably still support their warrenty on things they know won't be affected by operating systems, like the hinge of the laptops screen.

Boojum the brown bunny

From the horses mouth (5, Informative)

orangesunglasses (1140459) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174825)

http://mjg59.livejournal.com/77672.html [livejournal.com]
Matthew garret, who runs the laptop testing team. Read this, instead of just spreading FUD.

I'm not convinced (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174873)

I've been running Ubuntu (since Edgy) on my laptop for about a year now with heavy use and my laptop works as well as it did on the day I got it. I known for awhile that having the "laptop mode" option enabled in /etc/default/acpi-support can be bad for your drive, but it is disabled by default.

FLASH! (1)

thanksforthecrabs (1037698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21174909)

Your hard drive also suffers wear and tear when you use the damn thing. Those who are going to panic over another "the sky is falling" post please move to the left.
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