Saturday, December 1, 2012

Laptop Hardware Troubles

It's been about two years since I purchased my current personal laptop, so it's time for some mechanical and power problems.  The disk started making clicking sounds and "{ DriveReady SeekComplete Error }" started showing up in dmesg.  These days I take no chances and immediately replace the disk before I lose data.  At the same time, the battery is unable to hold a charge for more than a few seconds.  I expect these to fail, I just wasn't expecting it to be the same day.  Oh well.

For the disk replacement, I bought a 256GB SSD (this one).  My previous work laptop came with a 64GB SSD that I thought was pretty cool, but I wasn't really impressed.  It may have been because the capacity was so low that I ended up relying on an external USB hard disk for most of my work.  256GB is large enough to be useful.  Plus I really like the idea of no moving parts.  The big problem was that the failing disk was 750GB.  Had to do some housekeeping first to get everything to fit in 256GB.  To my surprise I wasn't really using a lot of that 750GB anyway.

The disk arrived on Friday and only took me a couple of hours to copy everything from the old disk to the new one.  I plugged both disks in to my workstation at the office, created new partitions and filesystems, mounted the old partitions under /old, mounted the new partitions under /new, and used tar to copy the contents of each volume to the new disk.  Manual edit of /etc/fstab on the new disk and install grub and I was good to go.

First boot up in the laptop and I can tell right away this thing is fast.  Things load quickly.  It's really nice.  Taking advice from a few online searches, I am doing the following:

  • Use tmpfs for the /tmp partition.  Should have done this a long time ago anyway.
  • Add the 'discard' mount option for the ext4 and swap partitions.  Everyone says to do this in order to get TRIM support.
  • Use the noop I/O scheduler rather than cfq.  There is no need to reorder I/O operations so the disk doesn't have to seek so much.  There's no disk!

If you know of any other tips for using an SSD on Linux, let me know.  I'm running the 3.2.34 kernel.  Yes, I know there are newer ones, I just haven't bothered to upgrade to a new 3.y line yet.

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