Gentoo HD has went rabid

My HD clunks sometimes... and Gentoo won't stop spinning it.  I'm scared.  
kayveyAsked:
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Sector5Commented:
HI kayvey,

I am going out on a limb here but I hope I got this right (after all we are all learning here, right?)

If you're HDD "clunks" I think you should get a new one, if it be under warranty swap out or buying a new one, a HDD should not "clunk" and sooner or later it is going to seaze up on you and that is never a good thing.
I have found some articles on how to stop or unmount (again, going out on  limb):
http://www.gentoo-wiki.info/HOWTO_HDD_spindown_small_server
http://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic-t-809542-start-0.html
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=969792
http://bugs.gentoo.org/23183
http://www.gentoo.org/security/en/glsa/glsa-200509-15.xml
http://www.mail-archive.com/gentoo-user@lists.gentoo.org/msg08519.html
http://superuser.com/questions/89066/incognito-livecd-gentoo-based-wont-recognize-my-hard-drive

Hope this helps, please let me know.
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muffCommented:
Do this sooner rather than later.  Presumably if you are running gentoo you are familiar with what you need to do.  The approach I would take is install the new drive in the system, then dd everything over.

Do this with a live CD so you don't need to mount anything read-write.

The drives will most likely appear as /dev/sda and /dev/sdb

Assuming sdb is the new blank drive, simply

dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb bs=32768

From a second terminal you can use kill -USR1 <pid> where pid is the process id of the dd command, which can be obtained from ps auwx

The kill command won't actually kill the command, it will cause dd to report how far along it is in the first terminal.
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kayveyAuthor Commented:
OK this is really weird.  I put my Ubuntu HD in and I am running that. Luckily, you provided an Ubuntu link.. but so far my efforts are failing:
root@kayve-laptop:~/apt-gets# sdparm -C stop /dev/sda5
    /dev/sda5: ATA       ST9500325AS       0001
root@kayve-laptop:~/apt-gets# sdparm -C stop /dev/sda1
    /dev/sda1: ATA       ST9500325AS       0001
root@kayve-laptop:~/apt-gets# sdparm -C stop /dev/sda2
    /dev/sda2: ATA       ST9500325AS       0001
root@kayve-laptop:~/apt-gets# hdparm -s 60 /dev/sda5
  -s: bad/missing powerup-in-standby value (0..1)
root@kayve-laptop:~/apt-gets# hdparm -s 60 /dev/sda1
  -s: bad/missing powerup-in-standby value (0..1)
root@kayve-laptop:~/apt-gets# hdparm -s 60 /dev/sda2
  -s: bad/missing powerup-in-standby value (0..1)
root@kayve-laptop:~/apt-gets# hdparm -s 0 /dev/sda2

/dev/sda2:
 spin-up: setting power-up in standby to 0 (off)
 HDIO_DRIVE_CMD(powerup_in_standby) failed: Input/output error
root@kayve-laptop:~/apt-gets#

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kayveyAuthor Commented:
Just to be clear, this HD doesn't "clunk" but it seems to have gone rabid.  
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kayveyAuthor Commented:
The HD stopped spinning just now.  Ubuntu seems to spin less than Gentoo
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kayveyAuthor Commented:
It's spinning again.  I think it's spinning too much.
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muffCommented:
Hello.  Actually, using the term 'rabid' to describe a disk activity does not really make things clear.  

if you are hearing clicking or clunking sounds then this is usually because something is wrong with the drive.  hence the answers you have so far.

If your concern is that the disk is spinning...  well hard disks spin from when they have power to when they no longer have power.  If the disk isn't being used and you have power saving settings, the os can power it down.  However, the disk that the os is on will never power down because it is always in use.

You have posted this in the pcmcia section... does all this mean that you are refrring to a pcmcia disk?  If so are there any partitions on the disk mounted?

It would be easier to help if you provided more detail about the peoblem you are facing..
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kayveyAuthor Commented:
the spinning sound is the normal operation of the disk.. I will be honest, I am not 100% sure what PCMCIA is.. I am pretty sure that acronym shows up in dmesg, though.. oops.. not here.  Dang. I don't know.  It seems like the HD is spinning too much.  You have to understand I use a screwdriver and take out my drives.  

http://www.monkeyview.net/id/965/fsck/xorg_log/P1300116.vhtml

I have been doing this for a number of years now on two different laptops using 6 different HDs. I just got a new HD yesterday.    I was asking the question about the Gentoo HD that I do not currently have mounted, but now I have an Ubuntu HD in that does not clunk.  I feel the clunking may have arisen because of static electricity.  It has happened to one other HD I have, an IDE HD.  THIs is a SATA.

I didn't expect any advice about the "clunking" other than "get a new HD," but empirically, I have found the other "clunky" HD to still be running after years, but I don't install it too much.  It is running FreeBSD 6.2

"rabid" means that it is doing its normal thing, once in a while spinning, but I swear to god "once in a while" has become "almost always."  Actually, the Gentoo HD I think spins nonstop, but now I have installed a different HD that has no clunks.  Here is another picture:

http://www.monkeyview.net/id/965/fsck/gentoo/PB210338.vhtml

I really feel people who are attempting to answer my questions should look at least a few of my 2620 pictures of me doing things with computers.  In the top left corner of every page such as the two links above, there are hierarchical links "kayvey" is the top "Album" (Albums are like directories in a filesystem) and "ComPuter Pwobwems" is the subAlbum that has 2620 pictures of my futzing with my laptops.   The above link is to a picture of the two HDs that I am talking about in this question, one fully devoted to Ubuntu, the other to Gentoo.  The picture is one of 166 pictures in a subAlbum called "Efforts to run Gentoo Linux"  If you click on that link in the top left, you will get to a place where the 166 photos are shown as thumbnails, which should make it a lot easier.  Also there is previous "<" and next ">" browsing to step through the pictures in the current Album if you are looking at the close up (click on the thumbnail of any picture that is interesting to get the full size view such as the links above)

it stopped spinning now...
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kayveyAuthor Commented:
it made the little whirr like it was about to begin spinning just now but it changed its mind.
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kayveyAuthor Commented:
I'm really surprised it hasn't started spinning again, but this is the Ubuntu drive.
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kayveyAuthor Commented:
oop.. OK it started spinning again.  check the timestamps of these posts and tell me this is or isn't normal
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kayveyAuthor Commented:
I went and rinsed a couple of dishes.. I came back.. it wasn't spinning.. but then it started spinning.. but it stopped spinning after only a few seconds.
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kayveyAuthor Commented:
It just started spinning.
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kayveyAuthor Commented:
There is more blowing now.. maybe that's the cooling fan?
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muffCommented:
Hard disks spin constantly.  They only ever not spin when there is no power to them.

Is the drive we are talking about the one where the OS is loaded?  If so, it should never stop spinning.

If you are hearing something that sounds like it is going on and off, it is most likely the cooling fan or perhaps the CD drive.
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kayveyAuthor Commented:
In my experience they do not "spin constantly."  They spin "once in a while."  

I can tell HD spins from fan spins.  For a long time I was confused about the clunking, I wasn't sure where it was coming from.  Then one day, I used my screwdriver and screwed the FreeBSD 6.2 IDE disk into this NexStar brand external enclosure:  

http://www.monkeyview.net/id/965/fsck/swap/p3310449.vhtml

and I held it in my hand, and I could feel the clunking was coming from the HD and not some other mechanism in the laptop.  
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muffCommented:
Hard disk platters spin constantly when they have power.  Some operating systems will spin down a drive that is not in use.  If it is the drive the OS is on, it will almost certainly be spinning constantly because the OS itself will write various things to the drive as part of normal operations.

Hard drives spin at 7200rpm (sometime slower, sometimes faster), and it takes energy and time to spin them up to this speed which is why they constantly spin.

However you appear to be using the word "spin" and "clunk" interchangably.  When data is written or read from the disks, the read/write heads will move back and forth across the disk to get them into the right position.  Different hard drives will move these heads with different levels of noise.  Also depending on how the files it needs to access are laid out on the disk, there may be more movement required because the files are scattered around.  This movement can sound like "clunks" or "clicks", or "whirs".  Some drives will do this almost silently.

This sound will only happen when there is a read or write operation happening.  

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kayveyAuthor Commented:
You are mistaken about me confusing "spin" with "clunk" and I guess we will just have to disagree about hard drives spinning.  THey do NOT normally "spin constantly" in my estimation, they normally only spin when they are doing something like "thrashing," or something.  

This does not seem normal and my computer is getting extremely hot.  Thanks for the effort but I don't see this going anywhere.  
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muffCommented:
Hard drives spin constantly, unless they instructed to spin down - either by being powered down, or through the operating system instructing them to spin down.

This is a trade-off between access times and power consumption.  If a disk has to spin-up before you can get data from it, then access will be slower.  However, if they are spinning constantly, they draw power.

However, they will never be spun down unless there is no activity, and it is normal for a disk that the operating system is on to spin, as various logs and temp files are written.  If the drive is in a laptop, the operating system may make more effort to keep the drive from needing to spin up - under ubuntu this is called 'laptop mode'.

Some disks have a noise reduction mode, where it switches to a lower spin rate in order to become quieter, and then are spun up to full speed as required.

"Trashing" refers to where information is being read from a disk, but the information is scattered across the disk and so the heads are constantly moving back and forward.  An increased amount of noise results, and the trashing refers to the movement of the heads.

Is this laptop?  
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muffCommented:

Just as a last point on the whole spin-up thing, a hard drive can take around 3 seconds to spin up to speed before data transfer can take place.  That is why they are not spun down unless there is a benefit to doing so as waiting three seconds to access a disk is a looong time.  Inactivity spin downs happen after 20 minutes or more normally so this is far longer than the activity changes you are witnessing.

It occurs to me that it doesn't matter too much that you are attributing the noises you are hearing to spinup/spindown and how that aligns with the reality of how hard disks works.  Your real question is why all this activity is happening - why your disk is being accessed so frequently.

Are the gentoo and ubuntu hard disks the exact same model? If not, then the "spin" differences you witness could just be due to the differences in the way the drives work.

But you say that the laptop is getting hot - and this is with ubuntu running, and you are still getiting a lot of disk "spin"?

With ubuntu, are you running Gnome?  

I think the first thing to do is try and isolate what is accessing the disk.  You could try stopping gnome and seeing if the activity subsides.  Go to a tty  (control-alt-F1) and login.  Then do

  sudo /etc/init.d/gdm stop

This should stop gnome entirely (so make sure you have nothing unsaved) then see if you see any differences in disk activity.  Change stop to "start" to get it back.

Another process that may cause a lot of disk activity is tracker - this process indexes all your files so that you can search for them quickly.  If you haven't used ubuntu in a while, it may do a lot of indexing - and so cause disk activity - so as to "catch up"

You could also use iostat and iotop to monitor what disk activity is going on - this will show you what processes are doing the most i/o (which is commonly to disk).

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kayveyAuthor Commented:
I am interested in learning what you want to tell me about how HDs work, but indeed, the point of this question is the alarming amount that the HD is being accessed.  As to your question about the HD models, it appears that you didn't want to look at even one link that I already provided:

http://www.monkeyview.net/id/965/fsck/gentoo/index.vhtml?load=PB210338

::sigh:: that's the way folk are, I know.. They look like the exact same model Seagate.  I see a bunch of numbers that seem to match, sorry they are upside down with respect to each other..

Hmm..

http://www.monkeyview.net/id/965/fsck/gentoo/PB210384.vhtml

::sigh::

In contrast, I currently have the original HD that came with the computer screwed into what I call the "master slot."  I don't know if that is a reasonable name, but this is what I am talking about:  

http://www.monkeyview.net/id/965/fsck/gentoo/PB210347.vhtml

The above link shows the Gentoo HD sitting on top ready to be screwed in having been screwed into  the chasis or whatever you call it there are four screws that do that and the other two screws stay in the outer door through those little appendages in that little chasis thing and into the rest of the computer below where the HD fits.  Right now, I have installed the original HD that still has a Microsoft operating system on it, and the disk is not "going rabid."  It spins once in a while, and the computer is not getting hot.  Oh dear.  My maverickiness is biting me on the butt.  

I forgot to mention:

http://www.monkeyview.net/id/965/fsck/gentoo/PB210384.vhtml

I think that is the same link I provided.  The HD that runs Microsoft is not seagate--its Western Digital.  

Ubuntu and Gentoo both run Gnome.  

OK.. I am not going to try your suggestions tonight.  I have a little business to do and then I am shutting down.  THanks for bearing with me.  I will try what you say  tomorrow about 11am or noon Pacific Standard TIme.  
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kayveyAuthor Commented:
OK.. checking in.. {:}

Still have Uncle Bill Western Digital inside.. downloading a CentOS torrent.. ETA 7m 35s
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kayveyAuthor Commented:
OK I have the Gentoo disk ..no I decided to put the Ubuntu disk in because I was sure I could mount Uncle Bill thus the centOS iso which I need  to burn.  
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kayveyAuthor Commented:
You know what?  Today it isn't spinning so much.  ::sigh::
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kayveyAuthor Commented:
Uncle Bill Western Digital in the FireWire/USB2.0

http://www.monkeyview.net/id/965/fsck/xorg_log/P1300097.vhtml

is making clicking sounds that sound normal.  It's trying to view a whole bunch of stuff right now.  
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kayveyAuthor Commented:
Maybe it's switching platters because the files are so huge.  
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kayveyAuthor Commented:
It's not seeming so rabid today.  The little "hard drive" light is off right now.  I have Gentoo in.  
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kayveyAuthor Commented:
I'm happy now.  Happy Uncle Bill is unhappy

http://www.monkeyview.net/id/965/fsck/gentoo/PB210396.vhtml
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