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Thread: Installing into a SSD

  1. #1
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    Installing into a SSD

    Hi,

    I'm trying to install Ubuntu onto my laptop. I don't want to install it on my HDD since I'm not sure what effects it'll have Vista. So I'm going to install it on a SSD drive i have.

    The question is, will it have a effect on vista if I install on the SSD? OR Is it safer to remove the hard drive completely and go with the installation?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Re: Installing into a SSD

    Herman's Dual Boot site will help you. He's an Aussie so you can't go wrong!

    Cheers, Pat.
    It's never too late to have a happy childhood! (Bumper sticker - Zimbabwe)
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  3. #3
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    Re: Installing into a SSD

    same topic different question.

    I have a Dell Inspiron 1525 N-Series
    Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor T8100 (2.10 GHz, 800 MHz FSB
    WEBCAM 2.0 Mega pixel web camera
    15.4" Wide Screen WXGA+ (1440 x 900) Display with TrueLife™
    2048MB 667MHz Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM [2x1024]
    120GB (5400rpm) SATA Hard Drive
    Integrated Intel® Graphic Media Accelerator X3100
    8x DVD+/-RW Optical drive - N-Series
    Intel® Pro Wireless 3945 802.11a/b/g
    Ubuntu 8.04

    Everything works perfectly except I want more speed, so I am thinking of buying a
    OCZ Core Series V2 Solid State Drive - 120GB - SSD to fit in the laptop, question is, will Ubuntu install without any problems or do i need special drivers, special way of installing, etc, etc

    This is the only time I don't just try it out for myself because one of those 120G SSD cost allot of money and i want to be sure it will work before I spend all this money buying a SSD.


    Please advise & Many Thanks

  4. #4
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    Re: Installing into a SSD

    I don't have one (yet), but I wish I did!

    I think you should be able to just install Ubuntu in your SSD the same way as if your were installing in a hard disk, but that's just my personal opinion.
    You should ask at OCZ Forums and see what the experts have to say.
    At a quick glance I can already see some posts there from other Ubuntu users.

    Regards, Herman
    Ubuntu user since 2004 (Warty Warthog)

  5. #5
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    Re: Installing into a SSD

    Gcc, for what it's worth, I have successfully installed Ubuntu 8.0.4 on an 8Gb SSD in an Acer Asire One and so far everything works (after some tinkering). However, there are some basic differences in the way you set up the SSD vs a conventional HD, mostly to do with avoiding unnecessary writes to disk.

    Some useful recommendations for Ubuntu on the Aspire One are here and I imagine some of these suggestions would equally apply to your intended OCZ SSD drive, particularly the section "Reducing SSD Wear".

    One other hopefully useful hint: for my SSD, write speed is not particularly fast and brands differ significantly. You might do more homework than I did () on your intended brand of SSD beforehand.

    Hope this helps. Cheers, Pat.
    It's never too late to have a happy childhood! (Bumper sticker - Zimbabwe)
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  6. #6
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    Re: Installing into a SSD

    I'm fairly sure things will vary between brands of SSD.

    Tony, one of the OCZ Forums moderators, said in this thread, ssd core best filesystem/settings under linux,
    I just let Ubuntu do its thing for me, DIY laptop 64GB core and Ubuntu 32bit
    There's no harm in being cautious though. I'm still looking around in the OCZ Forums, I expect to have time to look properly over the weekend.

    At this stage I must say that Ubuntu seems to be very well represented there.

    I found that the Reiser File System is much faster than Ext2 or Ext3 in the flash memory I ran a few tests in with benchmarking software, and it's a difference you can really feel too!
    That does vary between brands of flash memory, in some brands the difference is negligible, but I haven't found one in which ReiserFS is slower yet.

    Regards, Herman
    Last edited by Herman; October 9th, 2008 at 12:24 PM.
    Ubuntu user since 2004 (Warty Warthog)

  7. #7
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    Re: Installing into a SSD

    Quote Originally Posted by Patb View Post

    However, there are some basic differences in the way you set up the SSD vs a conventional HD, mostly to do with avoiding unnecessary writes to disk.
    That's correct, as I learned when setting up Linux on my Asus Eee PC, which has only a 4GB SSD. While a conventional hard drive has an "infinite" ability to re-write bits on the media ("infinite" for practical purposes, not literally), SSDs have a very finite limitation on erase/re-write cycles. Therefore, you either need to install a non-journalling filesystem (ext2), or else use the available options for ext3 to cut the writing frequency way down.

    Here's a thread with useful details, along with some speculation and controversy on the topic:

    http://forum.eeeuser.com/viewtopic.php?id=890

    Intel Core i7-950 / Asus P6X58D-E / Nvidia GTX480 / siduction 64-bit on OCZ Revodrive SSD / KDE4.10.2/ Kubuntu 13.04

  8. #8
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    Re: Installing into a SSD

    Dabl and Patb are both right to be advising special steps to be taken when installing in small flash memories where the endurance of the flash memory is not known. (Not advertised).

    I would imagine that the endurance of the EeePC's 4001MB SILICONMOTION SM would be a lot more than the 10000 writes per cell, (the figure that rozojc quoted in Dabl's eeeuser.com web forums link.
    Most flash memory these days has an endurance of between 100000 and 1000000 write-erase-cycles per cell, and of course with 'wear leveling', we're not able to keep on writing the the same cells repeatedly even if we wanted to.
    (Presuming the 4001MB SILICONMOTION SM uses wear leveling. I think it would need to).

    I have been taking a closer look into flash memory wear and I found the following interesting web site, Accurately judging endurance for solid-state storage - EDN, 1/19/2006 - Gary Drossel
    I took the equation found in that web page and made a spreadsheet for it, and it's great fun to play with the numbers in it.


    There were a number of areas of concern cited in the eeeusers.com forum about using a standard Linux installation in the flash memory, and in other websites I researched.

    One worry was the file system journal.
    I tried to find out how much data is written and how often and I've come up with a value of 1 kb of data 60 times per minute, (although I have read in another website that the file system journal is updated only every five seconds).

    Even only a 1 kb write would force the flash memory to re-write an entire cell though, and the size of these cells can vary between brands and types of flash. I picked 128 mb for the size of each cell for use in Gary Drossel equation.

    For system logging in /var/log/messages, I took a look in mine and my system has been up for 8 hours, with 35 messages, forcing a minimum write of 128 mb each time. Let's just say 100 disk writes per 24 hours for a round number okay?

    For firefox, I emptied my firefox cache and visited 12 random websites, (includung a youtube video), and found 48 files, all but three were under 128 mb. I'm counting 52 disk writes for that.
    Okay, let's say we're going to visit 100 websites per day. 55/12 x 100 = 458 disk writes per day.

    I read that Email messages average about 11kb in length. Each one means a 128 kb erase block anyway, so the size doesn't matter. 12 emails per day = 12 disk writes.

    I have no idea how many disc writes 'atime' would be responsible for, but I did find a site which said that in Hardy Heron and later, we use 'relatime', so it might not be important to edit /etc/fstab with 'noatime'.
    I don't know much about blkid.tab and mtab either, but they are also supposed to be responsible for some disc writes.

    To convert the all except the file system journaling values from writes per day to writes per minute, they each need to be and divided by 24 and then by 60.

    I really don't know how much the swap area would be worth. That would very a great deal depending on the other hardware and what programs are used and so on. I just picked a random number for that, (well, I took a guess, if anyone has an idea about how to do better could they please let me know). I used .8 kb per minute.
    EDIT: The iostat command should be able to give an idea of how much an operating system writes to the swap area.
    Something like, 'iostat -k -d /dev/sda5 5 100 >> swap-report' should work,
    Code:
    iostat -k -d /dev/sda5 5 100 >> swap-report
    I picked a value of .48 kb per minute for the user's normal work, like saving files, updates and so on.

    WIth those added up, I divided by 8 to convert from kb to mb.
    The end result is, I figure that with a normal installation, we'd be writing an average of around 1.13 mb per minute to the flash.

    Okay, I do realize a few of my figures pretty wild, but I'm doing my best.

    Now, running that through the equation I linked you to earlier, for a 4 GB flash memory, with an endurance of 100000 and 80% full of static data, average 1.13 mb file size, 60 time per minute comes to a predicted life of 2.3 years.

    If we use all the tricks to reduce disk writes, /var/log/messages by eliminating swap, web browser caching, file system journalling, and so on, I make it down from 1.13 mb/min to just 0.06 mb file size, average. The spreadsheet indicates now a predicted lifetime of 43.29 years.

    Now, going back to our worst case scenario, with the 1.13 mb average per minute, for a predicted 2.3 year lifetime for a 4 GB drive, let's see what happens when we change the drive size parameter.
    Entering 120 GB instead of just 4 GB increases the life of the flash to 68.96 years.

    Now, take into consideration that an OCZ flash memory would have an endurance of at least 1000000 rewrites per cell, and we can expect to do our worst to the 120GB OCZ Core Series V2 Solid State Drive for an expected lifetime of around 7 centuries.
    I don't care if my mathematics is a bit rough. You at least get the idea that it will be a long time right?
    Actually, OCZ doesn't advertise the endurance as a number of rewrites per call, they just say,
    Designed for ultimate reliability, Core V2 SSDs have an excellent 1.5 million hour mean time before failure (MTBF)
    That actually only comes to about 171 years of continuous use.

    So you see,there's a big difference between a 4 GB EeePC flash memory and a 120GB OCZ Core Series V2 Solid State Drive. My main point is that you need to look at the particular flash memory in question and not just think that all flash memory is the same.
    Making special changes to Ubuntu may be appropriate for some kinds of flash memory, but it might not be necessary for others.

    ...and once again, sorry for the wild figures, if anyone can ways to get figures that would be more accurate or can run the equation themselves and see how their results compare with mine it should be interesting. I'm not much of a mathematician, (please accept my apologies for that).

    Regards, Herman
    Last edited by Herman; October 18th, 2008 at 11:39 AM.
    Ubuntu user since 2004 (Warty Warthog)

  9. #9
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    Re: Installing into a SSD

    Thanks for the resourceful and thoughtful coverage Herman.

    I think a generic how-to on "Ubuntu on SSDs" would be quite timely. I agree with your point about looking at the particular brand and type of SSD and that should certainly be part of the advice. I guess a lot of web articles are overly pessimistic about the life expectancy of SSDs. However, "netbooks" with small (4-8 Gb) SSDs are apparently very popular these days and some of the strategies for reducing disk writes probably make good practical sense for these machines.

    Cheers, Pat.
    Last edited by Patb; October 18th, 2008 at 03:34 AM.
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  10. #10
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    Re: Installing into a SSD

    Inspired by Herman, I have collected a bit more specific information on disk writes for the Acer Aspire One with an 8 GB Intel® Z-P230 PATA Solid-State Drive.

    Some background:
    I have set up my AA1 so as to minimise disk writes as suggested at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/AspireOne. This hasn't been difficult. I have simply:
    • dedicated the whole SSD for the root partition
    • used ext2 (non journalised) format, rather than ext3
    • not allocated any swap space, not anywhere (no problem as I have 1.5 Gb RAM and I don't use hibernation)
    • put my home partition on a separate drive (the left side SD card to be precise)
    • moved my logs to a temporary filesystem in RAM (which is therefore lost at every shutdown)
    • put my Firefox cache in RAM

    Data collection:
    With this setup, I collected disk write data using iostat over a 5 minute period - 30 intervals of 10 seconds each:
    Code:
    iostat -kdx /dev/sda 10 30 >> statdata
    During that 5 minutes, I opened a new OpenOffice document and saved a file of about 25K in size. I opened Firefox and browsed about 10 new sites including of course a search on Ubuntu Forums. I also checked my Thunderbird IMAP email account. I then replicated this exercise to see if there were any wild differences.

    It would be nice of course to compare the results of my modified installation against a "stock standard" installation of Ubuntu 8.0.4.1 with journalised ext3 formatting and home and swap partitions on /dev/sda. Unfortunately, I am not in position to do that myself. But what I did do was to collect the data for my system as set up above and then repeat the exercise with the system logs and Firefox cache located on my root partition.

    Assumptions:
    I seem to have used a different approach from Herman's in calculating the number and size of disk writes. I have looked at the output of iostat in terms of the number of write requests which were issued to the drive per second (w/s) and the average number of kilobytes written to the disk per second (wkB/s). I assume that the minimum write block size is 128 Kb (although it may well be 64 Kb or even less - I just don't know) even when the number of Kb needing to be written is much smaller. I have included a two-fold margin of error to cover for the likelihood that there will be (infrequent) occasions when files significantly larger than 128 Kb are written. I have assumed that whatever system of wear levelling exists, works perfectly.

    Results:
    Two runs on my existing setup, and two more with the temporary log files on the SSD gave iostat results as follows:
    Code:
                                            Run 1    Run 2
    Tmpfs in RAM   Avg writes per sec       0.014    0.021
                   Avg Kb written per sec   0.083    0.097
    Tmpfs on disk  Avg writes per sec       0.648    0.728
                   Avg Kb written per sec   9.49    17.79
    When I put all this data into Drossel's equation, I got an estimated life expectancy of 765 years for my SSD. When I repeated this with the log files on the SSD instead of in RAM, the estimated life expectancy was 22 years. Use a journalised file system, put home and swap partitions on the SSD, increase the proportion of static data on the SSD, and who knows, it might ultimately matter?

    I have tried to attach the Gnumeric spreadsheet file I used to calculate this. It is annotated to explain how I came up with each of the parameters.

    I hope this is useful or at least interesting. It will no doubt reveal how little I know about either maths or computer science, so please bear with me if I have made errors.

    Cheers, Pat.
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