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Old 05-01-2009, 01:35 PM   #1
Registered: Jan 2004
Location: Austin, TEXAS
Distribution: CentOS 6.5
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hard drive thrashing while computer is idle

I'm running Ibex as a simple set-top box with Boxee installed. When the computer is sitting 'idle' the hard drive continues to thrash like mad. The single hard drive is tethered via USB2. The system is an AMD 3200XP with 1gb on the mobo. Checking the system monitor, everything looks normal. Swap is at 0%, memory is at 270mb. CPU is ~30% idle.

Otherwise performance appears normal. Is there any method of determining what process is reading or writing to the hard drive?


Old 05-01-2009, 03:17 PM   #2
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Location: London, UK
Distribution: Debian "Jessie"
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Is there any method of determining what process is reading or writing to the hard drive?
top (in a terminal) ?
man top (in a terminal) will tell you more about how to use this useful utility.

If you are runing KDE 3.x.y then <CTRL><ESCAPE> will give you a GUI representation of what processes are running.

You have plenty of RAM so it should not be using swap which can be a cause of high HDD activity.

Most distros now come with a file-indexing thingy to enable you to find files fast.
This might be locate or slocate or something like beagle but there are others as well.

They'll all thrash your HDD whilst they try to index everything and build databases of what is located where to help give you almost instant answers to your "where is ...?" questions.

Mostly, they are set up to thrash the HDD only if you are not using it at the time. If you need access to your HDD, they (should) "back off" and let your requests to the HDD take priority, but the moment you have no need of access to the HDD, they'll be busy indexing things for you. Eventually the process will decide it has done its work, go back to sleep, and your PC will be peaceful again.
Old 05-02-2009, 01:47 PM   #3
Registered: Jan 2004
Location: Austin, TEXAS
Distribution: CentOS 6.5
Posts: 211

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found the bad guy

It was mythbackend. I used top and didn't see any single process consuming a lot of CPU or memory. But I saw a few that would bubble up to the top with frequency. kjournald was suspcious. I hadn't configured myth at all, so I didn't need that process running. After I killed it, the thrashing went away. I'm going to hold off on re-installing myth until I have a seperate hard drive for all the video recordings. Don't want it to beat the crap out of the drive supporting the OS.

For others who might come across this post, here are the steps I used:


as root account


Watch for a while to see which process is behaving selfishly.

<q> to quit top

<ps -ef | grep mythbackend >

<kill # > where # is the process id of the mythbackend




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