Does Your Hard Disc Lights Stay On For Ages After Booting Linux?

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Mine did, not any more though. Read on.

I was just a tad annoyed at the sudden increase in s-l-o-o-o-o-w responses after starting OpenSuse 11.4 up. I noticed that the hard drive indicator LED was continually lit for about 5-10 minutes after bootup. Performance was abysmal during this time.

Top showed almost no CPU being used, so I looks ad vmstat instead. This was the result, on an idle (and slow) system:

vmstat -d
disk- - -----IO------
cur sec
sda8 0 898

Note: In the above, I’ve removed the individual reads and writes columns, to sort out the wheat from the chaff. I’m interested in I/Os overall. I’ve also removed the partitions that were showing 0 or 1 as the total I/O count.

The figures showed me that partition sda8 was getting hit to the tune of almost 900 I/O operations per second. Who or what is partition sda8?

df -h | grep -i sda8
/dev/sda8 251G 131G 108G 55% /data

Now I know, so what’s open on this mount point?

lsof /data
preload 385 root /data/VirtualBox/ScientificLinuxEnterprise6.vdi
preload 385 root /data/VirtualBox/LinuxMint64bit.vdi

And having noted the above, why on earth was anything loading my virtual drives when I’m not even running VirtualBox at the moment?

ps -ef|grep -i 385
root 385 1 1 11:15 ? 00:00:11 /sbin/preload /var/cache/preload/prepared

A quick check of the internet showed that preload is a process to save boot time (how ironic) and that it can easily be disabled. So I disabled it. No more long boots now! To disable preload, run yast and select System Services (Runlevel).

  • Tick the Expert Mode radio button.
  • Scroll down to find boot.startpreload
  • At the bottom of the screen, uncheck the B box.
  • Click OK.


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