Linux Blog

What Read Times do you get on your hard disks?

Filed under: Linux Software — at 11:20 pm on Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hard drives are a vital part of system performance. They really are one of the biggest bottle necks in computing. Its nice to know how many MB/s your hard drives are capable of reading. If you perform the tests could share your results with other Linux Blog readers? With advances in hard drive technology I hope to see performance get better, and already see a major increase in performance over the old IDE type drives.

To check your hard drive read times use hdparm like so:

hdparm -t /dev/sdX

replacing sdX with whatever device your distribution assigned. Here are my results:

sda is my internal 80GB SATA drive.
Timing buffered disk reads:  224 MB in  3.02 seconds =  74.07 MB/sec
sdb is an internal 80GB IDE Drive
[owen@LinuxBlog ~]# hdparm -t /dev/sdb
Timing buffered disk reads:   62 MB in  3.09 seconds =  20.06 MB/sec
sdc is an internal 160GB IDE drive
[owen@LinuxBlog ~]# hdparm -t /dev/sdc
Timing buffered disk reads:   90 MB in  3.03 seconds =  29.70 MB/sec

The next two tests are rather interesting. sde is a brand new freshly formated 1TB external Western Digital MyBook Drive.

[owen@LinuxBlog ~]# hdparm -t /dev/sde
Timing buffered disk reads:    2 MB in  7.69 seconds = 266.25 kB/sec
[owen@LinuxBlog ~]# hdparm -t /dev/sde
Timing buffered disk reads:   68 MB in  3.01 seconds =  22.60 MB/sec

The first result was what the read time is like when you first initialize the drive. Since the drive was in power down, the read time was horrendous. This was fixed second time around. You will notice that the transfer rate over USB 2.0 is not all that bad in comparison to the internal IDE. Both IDE drives are not primary drives, and are also on the same channel. I’m not sure if that makes a difference or not. Also when I try to set DMA and 32 bit support I get an IOCTL error indicating that something went wrong, so I don’t think that this is a fair test.

Either way, post your results, if see if you can tweak the hard drive settings then see what the read times are. Check out my: Hard Drive Tuning with hdparm article.

MacBook Air Alternatives

Filed under: Linux Hardware — at 6:03 am on Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ok, so there that been a lot of smugness in the Apple community about the new MacBook Air, which I must say is a stunning looking notebook. Although tiny it is still not the lightest of notebooks weighing in at 3.0 pounds. Here I’ve got an alternative to the MacBook Air. Although not as pretty it should get the job done.

This is a slightly slower Core 2  Duo at 1.2GHz and a 12.1″ Screen but its a worthy laptop for any road warrior

The Portege R500.  Right from Toshibas website comes this statement:

The Ultimate Ultraportable
With its ultralight design and stunning silhouette, the feather light 1.72 pound* Portégé® R500 Series is the transcendent expression of executive mobility and style. Offering the world’s lightest* widescreen 12.1″ notebook PC in one configuration, and the world’s thinnest widescreen 12.1″ notebook PC with an integrated DVD-SuperMulti drive in another, the Portégé® R500 Series represents an uncompromising synthesis of portability and productivity that’s meticulously engineered for the demands of executive computing.

*Lightest model configuration of 1.72 lbs is based on a 64GB solid state drive (SSD), a 3 cell battery and no optical disk drive. The Portégé® R500 with the solid state drive will not be available until the end of July 2007. Weight may vary. See Weight Legal Footnote at
Here are the dimensions:

• Dimensions (WxDxH Front/H Rear): 11.1” x 8.5” x .77”(f)/
1.0”(r) without feet
• Weight: Starting at at 2.4 lbs, depending upon
• LCD Cover Color: Aluminum Silver

It boasts on the flyer that its the worlds thinnest 12” widescreen which I can believe since it is .01” Thicker in the thinnest part then the MacBook Air. Don't think that with the lack of size on this laptop that you get skimpy options like the MacBook Air either. You get Three, yes I repeat Three USB 2.0 ports, Firewire, Gigabit Ethernet, a/g/n wifi for all of your wireless internet needs. 1 Type II PCMCIA slot, an optional DVD Burner a 6 Cell 5800mAh battery, SD Slot and all kinds of other goodies that you would expect from a laptop. I'm sure if they removed some of these lovely features they could make it thinner. It has the same resolution as the MacBook Air but is a little skimpy on the RAM with 1GB but makes up for it with a 3 year warranty on the hardware and a 1 year warranty on the battery.

They claim that you can get 8.18 hours from this battery so I'd love to get my hands on one of these to play around with powertop to see if it could get even more.

Lenovo have some sweet ThinkPads that are under 3lbs also. I can't find the exact measurements of them but I'm sure they don't come close to the Toshiba or the Air. Actually looking at these specs I think I got a pretty decent deal on my Toshiba Tecra M2 which has done me good so far. It has the following dimensions: 12.3” x 10.1” x 1.2/1.4” and is apparently 4.98 lbs although it feels more like 6. Its a single core 1.7 but I bet you it will boot faster than the MacBook Air. Resume also works too. All in all I probably saved about $1300 by purchasing my laptop. I think they still have some of the Tecra's I have left, they are a pretty good deal at ~$420. Shoot an e-mail if your interested.

More Hardware to add to my collection. Toshiba Tecra M2

Filed under: Linux Hardware — at 1:23 am on Monday, December 10, 2007

If you read my post about my Toshiba Portege 4010 you would know that I mentioned in their that it was a little too slow. I couldn’t do the things I needed to do, such as virtualization or play Quake3. So for an early Christmas present to I sold my Toshiba Portege 4010 and I purchased a used Toshiba Tecra M2 laptop. The specs are pretty decent for the amount I paid for it.

CPU: 1.7GHz PM
RAM: 512MB (Needs upgrading)
HD: 40GB -> Upgraded to 100GB
Graphics: GeForce Fx 5200 toGo 64MB.
Media: CDRW-DVD Combo, Firewire, USB 2.0, 2PCMCIA Card Slots
Network: 10/100/1000 B/G Wireless

The battery life is not as good as my old Portege 4010 but with the time I save by not waiting on the CPU I can normally get my Quake3 I mean work done in time to find a power outlet.

The Tecra M2 has excellent support for Linux. The only thing thats not supported that I’m working on is the SD Card reader. This is the same situation as the Portege’s as they use the same hardware.

I’ll be making a post for any body wanting to run a real Linux distribution on a Toshiba Tecra M2.