The Hackosis blog notes a contentious conversation thread between Linux creator Linus Torvalds and a programmer who finds that disabling the
atime option, which writes a last-accessed time to every single file that’s accessed by a Linux system, nets some significant performance improvements. If you don’t use any defragmenting or mail-watching apps (like mutt) that rely on atime, you can at least try out disabling atime, and switch back if something goes wrong. Read on for simple instructions on how to do that on a Linux desktop.
- Open a terminal program and give yourself super-user (i.e. sudo) permissions. On some systems, that’s typing
sudo -i, on others it’s
- Back up your original hard-drive-configuring fstab file. On Ubuntu, that’s accomplished with something like this:
cp /etc/fstab /etc/fstab.original
- Open the fstab file in your text editor of choice, be it gedit in GNOME, Kate in KDE, or nano or pico if you’re happier in text only. Using gedit would be this command:
- Look through the file for the partition line that contains your main system, not your swap partition. You’ll likely see “ext3” on that line, instead of “ntfs” or “swap” or the like. Note the two numbers—usually 0 and/or 1s—at the end of that line, and the section just before them, which should list a series of hard drive options like
- At the end of that comma-separated string, add these two items, making sure to place a comma before them:
- Save the fstab file, reboot your system. If anything seems busted or wonky, you can copy your fstab file back over and reboot:
sudo cp /etc/fstab.original /etc/fstab
I’ve tried it out on my Ubuntu 8.04 partition, and it feels like there is some kind of improvement, though with all things hard drive, it’s hard to pin down. If you’re noticing some real kick, or none at all, tell us about it in the comments.