How to Monitor Disk IO Access in Debian/Ubuntu

I alway use top in order to monitor how much resource is used for what process.  And there is iftop for network traffic monitor.  They give enough information to nail down and troubleshoot many different issues.  However, one thing that I have alway had issues with is disk IO monitoring.  I had to use iostat but it does not give information per process so I had to additional analysis to figure out exactly why.

For anyone who experiences similar difficulty with monitoring disk IO, iotop became available recently in Debian/Ubuntu distro.  It requires a newer kernel since it needs support from kernel; however, this is a tool that I have been waiting for a long time.  It give disk access info in real time per process and it is an excellent troubleshooting tool.

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VirtualBox 3.0.0 BETA2 Improvements

VirtualBox has been my favorite desktop virtualization tool for a couple years now.  I love it so much because it supports variety of host and client OSes, USB support, and shared folder with the host.  The fact that VirtualBox application itself and virtual machine images are portable between my Windows environment and Linux environment is the greatest feature for me.

However, there have been some issues that annoyed me a lot.

First issue was when you run multiple guests, sometimes it get frozen and you need to hard-reset your computer.  This happened quite often and it was very annoying.

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WordPress Automatic Upgrade Issue with PHP4

My hosting service provides 2 options for php versions; however, I have been running php4 because it was the default.  I wanted to test out WordPress’s Automatic Upgrade functionality but it just says it is downloading the zip file without any further progress.

I tried to look at permission and stuff but nothing was very clear.  However, I noticed somewhere in WordPress forum someone recommends that PHP5 is used.

I looked up how to use PHP5 from my hosting service and it was a simple line to enable PHP5.  I just added a line in .htaccess file.

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Ubuntu Google Trend

I was just curious about how popular Ubuntu became compared to other major distibutions nowadays.  This graph only represents frequencies from Google search but it is still very insteresting to look at.
Ubuntu Google Search Trend
Ubuntu Google Search Trend

Windows 7 XP Mode

The primary reason that I installed Windows 7 RC on my desktop was to try out what is called XP Mode. I read some articles about XP Mode and it looked like it is just a virtual machine created with Virtual PC; however, some things sounded a lot better that my understanding about Virtual PC.

I immediately see about 3 problems running a Windows XP virtual machine on top of Windows 7. First of all, system requirement for running a vm. Some systems may have enough power to run, some may not, considering vms need their own security suites/antivirus/antispyware software. Second, XP license for virtual machine activation. Third, file/desktop sharing between host and guest system because this may be very confusing for non-technical users when there are 2 different desktops.

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Windows 7 RC First Impression

When Vista came out, I was one of the early adapters to migrate from XP to Vista. Migrating to Vista was quite a challenge especially with my hardware including Creative X-Fi sound card, Microsoft WebCam, and an old TV tuner card with bt878 chipset. Its notcibly slower performance was another barrier. It actually took many months to correctly install all devices on Vista with my hardware – it just became quite stable system a couple months ago.

When Windows 7 Beta was announced, I did not even bother to look at it because of my previous experience with Vista. However, a couple days ago, I was reading an article about Windows 7’s XP Mode somewhere and found myself a bit instrested in trying RC version for XP Mode. This will be another article at a later time.

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Ubuntu 9.04 New Feature – Computer Janitor

As soon as I upgraded my laptop’s Ubuntu 8.10 to 9.04, I started looking for what new features there were. I found one that was interestingly named. “Computer Janitor” Hmm…

It turns out to be something that I have been waiting for a long time. It scans all unused files including packages, configuration files and it even makes recommendations. When I ran it for the first time it scanned some of the old kernels. Curiously I selected all of them and started cleaning, and viola!! Next time I booted, all my previous kernel options from grub are all gone.

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Closer to Ubuntu 9.04 Release


RAID 0 Array Performance Test on nForce4 (XPS 600)

On XPS 600, I have always felt that Maxtor 250GB harddrive that came with my Dell XPS 600 was the bottleneck.  Whenever I do any resouce intensive tasks, the harddrive keeps running even if CPU and memory ultilization is very low.  I looked up some specification for the Maxtor and noticed that it was an older generation.  It looked like upgrading the harddrive will be the biggest improvement that I could make the system faster; however, there were a couple of options.  I could purchase a brand new drive with higher capacity, or I could purchase the same capacity drive and configure a RAID 0 stripping array.  I decided to go with RAID route since I have been doing daily backup to another older harddrive – I considered only performance factor.

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D-Link WBR-1310 Rev A Intermittent Wireless Connection

When I signed up for Comcast High Speed Internet a couple years ago, I received a free cable modem and a free router, WBR-1310 after mail-in rebate.  I have been using this router since then but somehow I have been constantly getting this wireless connection drops.  

Sometimes it is good for days, sometimes it drops many times in a day.  I tried to flash it many times with many different firmware, and even I tried a firmware for WBR-2310 since some others hacked the firmware to be installable on WBR-1310 since they use similar hardware.  Also looked up many open WRT solutions including dd-wrt but since this router has a very small memory, there was not option to go that route either.

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