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  1. Agustin's Linux Manual
  2. Multimedia & Hardware Installation
  3. About the Author
  4. Contents
  5. Multimedia
  6. Default Audio Setting
  7. Audio Application
  8. The Play Directory
  9. The Equalizer
  10. Options Sub-menu
  11. Movies & DVDs
  12. Starting Xine
  13. Video Conferencing
  14. GnomeMeeting's Main Window
  15. The Desktop
  16. Office
  17. Networking
  18. Multimedia Submenu
  19. Web Browsers
  20. Installing New Hardware
  21. Loading Modules for Hardware
  22. Introduction to IDEs
  23. Tweaking the Hard Drive
  24. Setting (U) DMA
  25. Installing a CD/RW
  26. Floppy Disk, Zip Drives
  27. Installing USB Devices
  28. Fire wire IEEE 1394
  29. Using the CD-Writer

Tweaking the Performance of your hard drive

Installing a big hard drive with Linux is not actually a big issue, based on the partitions required during the installation; but of course keep in mind that a very big hard drive for an old system may require a controller.
Make sure that when installing new hard drives the LBA option is enabled in your BIOS setup. When buying a new hard drive, buy a new IDE cable ATA 100/133 compliance, it will ensure that the data transfer will always be reliable.

If you are installing more than one hard drive, create swap files for each drive. Make sure your system has enough fans. Hard drives usually tend to heat. If you are adding all kinds of devices to the system, make sure your power supply will handle it. I usually use 350 to 400 watts in my systems depending on what I have installed.

To optimize your drive, you need to install the hdparm package, a utility to test your drive set parameters for better performance; I consider this an interleave set utility and is driven by the ATA/IDE device driver subsystem.

The hdparm utility has many parameters, read the documentations to learn the details of these parameters. “man hdparm”

Here are some of the most frequently used parameters, to get information about your drive.

To get the current and adjustable parameters use:

  • hdparm /dev/hd[x]

To get complete details about your drive

  • hdparm -i /dev/hd[x]

The current active UDMA transfer mode is marked with an asterisk (*).

       To run a benchmark:
  • hdparm -Tt /dev/hd[x]

Note: You can use combinations of parameters to get better results.

How to optimize your drive

Using the parameters you can optimize the drive. Many hard drives have features that you can enable or disable such as 32 bit I/O support, Power management, or maybe defect management. For example here is how you enable the 32-bit I/O support; a parameter followed by a numeric value will turn it on.

Currently supported numeric values include:

  • value 0, disable 32 bit I/O support
  • value 1, enable 32 bit data transfer
  • value 3, enable 32 bit data transfer with special sync sequence (works with nearly all 32 bit IDE chipset)

Note: 32 bits only refers to data transfer within PCI or VLB (Vesa Local Bus) all (E)IDE drives have only 16-bit connection over the data ribbon cable.

       hdparm -c3 /dev/hda

With the executed command, we just enabled a synchronized 32-bit data transfer.

Power Management:      To enable the Advanced Power Management –B parameter

       hdparm –B /dev/hda

Check the current power mode:

       hdparm –C /dev/hda