I'm hoping that steeldriver or someone else with solid technical expertise will help you.
In the meantime you should *backup your fstab*. Open up a terminal, enter "gksudo nautilus", navigate to /etc, and copy fstab.
I do not have your problem. I have had the problem in the past with multiple distros. Currently I have 3 installs of 12.04 Unity, on two significantly different hardware architectures, and none of them write every 3 or 4 seconds. All, if left alone for a minute, settle down to write less than once every 25 seconds. None are servers.
None of my installs are noatime. You can come to a conclusion here as easily as I can... using noatime may simply mask your real problem.
Trying to make sense of my previous research about drive activity makes my head spin. However, because you seem to be jumping to some decision very quickly, I will recommend that you consider two opinions before proceeding:
"Summary: leave the settings as they are, they were chosen for a reason."
"Your disk will be more vulnerable for data corruption on uncontrolled shut-downs without journaling."
There are lots of opinions about noatime and journaling. Opposing opinions might both contain truth. The person who simplifies, like I have done by posting only the two quotes above, is leaving out important conflicting factors. These are not trivial things and require serious research if you begin to think that distro developers have made a mistake.
I decided NOT to use noatime myself on my daily OS, even though I have an SSD than thus would theoretically be motivated to do so. However, against my own best judgment, and assuming that your system is similar to mine, here is how to put noatime in your fstab...
Open a terminal and enter "gksudo nautilus"
navigate to /etc and open fstab in gedit
find the line that contains "errors=remount-ro 0 1" (there should be only one such line)
add noatime to that line so that it looks like this...
Your UUID will be different.
UUID=19adba01-1ff5-4fcd-a084-999999999 / ext4 noatime,errors=remount-ro 0 1
If there is more than one line with "errors=remount-ro 0 1", then disregard my instructions and wait for someone with expertise to help.
Without knowing anything about your PC, here is something that you might try first if you have 2GB or more RAM: Put /tmp in RAM. This suggestion is based upon two assumptions...
- that Unity/gnome uses /tmp as part of its ongoing internal mechanics.
- your system won't be fooled to the result that your disk activity light continues to flash even though writes are not actually happening.
The purpose of putting /tmp in RAM is to see what happens to writes to your boot drive. If writes to the boot drive diminish, then we might be able to more easily determine exactly what is causing the activity. After the cause is identified, then the ramdisk can be abandoned by eliminating the entry from fstab.
Here is the fstab entry to put /tmp in RAM...
Have you determined the total volume of daily activity (writes) that journaling has cost you? Actually, the most relevant number might be the volume of activity while your PC is just sitting doing nothing. You should be able to extrapolate from a sample using iotop -o -a.
# added by me to run /tmp from RAM
none /tmp tmpfs noexec,nosuid,size=20%,mode=1777 0 0
steeldriver has recommended that you provide more information. How about starting with
- your computer model, CPU, RAM
- the uses of your PC (configured for remote access?)
- the results of uname -a
steeldriver or somebody, please jump in here and let SgtT know what info would help.