Linked by theosib on Sun 14th Feb 2010 10:45 UTC

Recently, I bought a pair of those new Western Digital Caviar Green drives. These new drives represent a transitional point from 512-byte sectors to 4096-byte sectors. A number of articles have been published recently about this, explaining the benefits and some of the challenges that we'll be facing during this transition. Reportedly, Linux should unaffected by some of the pitfalls of this transition, but my own experimentation has shown that Linux is just as vulnerable to the potential performance impact as Windows XP. Despite this issue being known about for a long time, basic Linux tools for partitioning and formatting drives have not caught up.

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Member since:

All the major noob-friendly distros use gparted for doing the partition editing, don't they? Will that protect users from these kinds of problem, then?

I do consider Mandriva to be pretty newbie-friendly all in all; it's clear, consistent, and provides an extensive selection of documentation and loads of online help if needed. Also, it's really stable and has excellent control center utility.

But alas, Mandriva doesn't actually use gparted. They use some sort of a tool of their own which apparently uses libparted as its backend. As far as I know quite a few distros actually do it that way. But as the article states, you seemingly have to use "--align optimal" option which does the right thing. It doesn't automatically align the partitions properly without that. And I have no idea if those custom partitioning tools employed by various distros pass such an option to libparted. If they don't then that'll be a very important issue to fix immediately.

I'd actually prefer if distros rolled out an update of some sort which will check the currently installed system and its partitioning scheme and warn if they are misaligned and would provide a way of fixing it; not everyone re-installs their system all the time and as such could be using misaligned partitions for years before next re-install.

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Lennie Member since:

I think it will be mostly ok if they use it on new installs from now on, these WDs are not widely available on the market yet (and when you do buy them: their is a BIG warning on the front).

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Lennie Member since:

gparted get it's right:

"When enabled, Round to cylinders aligns partition boundaries on the cylinder boundaries for the disk device. Enabled is the default setting."

The Ubuntu installer uses Partman from Debian, which uses parted in the background.

So that's a start.

But if parted will do it right when run from partman, I don't know yet.

Edited 2010-02-14 13:19 UTC

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Lennie Member since:

I just had a look at what partman does and what parted does. Parted does align by default as well, just like gparted. And partman just passes the MB's to parted, if I looked in the right places. That means it will do the right thing by default I think.

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theosib Member since:

Aligning partition to "cylinder" boundaries is BAD. The cylinders are fake and they're in units of 63.

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bralkein Member since:

Yeah, Mandriva would certainly fall within the category of distros which should sort all of this stuff out automatically without the user having to worry. Distros like Arch, Gentoo & Slackware all generally expect their users to be aware of the technical issues. But for the mainstream distros this does need to be fixed.

Maybe we could take a look at our respective distros and file a bug report if there could be an issue.

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modmans2ndcoming Member since:

Mandriva was the first distro to make partitioning the hard drive mortal friendly.

Mandrake Linux 7.0 was when they first released it and I recall thinking "Holy crap, this thing needs to be sold separately"

I went so far as to use the install disk up to the partition step to repartition my hard drives for a while.

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