Last week, I expressed my distaste for the way Ubuntu (and most linux distros) forces disk checks on users. I got even more irritated by this ridiculous behaviour this week when I reinstalled Ubuntu 7.04 on my sister’s laptop… it was actually a downgrade from 7.10 and I might go into the reasons behind that in a later post. Anyway, she dual boots with MS Windows on a 120GB hard drive and her disk structure is your typical dual boot kind – 20GB ntfs partition for windows, 15GB ext3 partition with a 2GB swap partition for Ubuntu, and an 80GB fat32 data partition. After the installation, ubuntu started forcing a disk check on the 80GB partition AT EVERY BOOT. That increased the boot time to something like four minutes. This is intolerable on an intel core 2 duo with 1GB of RAM… even my old pentium II takes 1 minute 15 seconds to become fully armed.
In last week’s post, I described how to use the tune2fs utility to influence the system’s decision to force a disk check on ext3 file systems; that utility is useless with FAT32 file systems. There is a simpler way of doing this and it involves editing that sweet little configuration file – /etc/fstab. That’s the file that controls how most of your storage devices are mounted. A typical line in this file looks like this:
UUID=cd26de7d-85ff-48cd-9d52-9a02bf4ff078 / ext3 defaults 0 1
We’re concerned only with the last digit because that is the information ubuntu uses to decide whether to force a disk check or not. A value of zero means do-not-check and any other positive number tells the system to check that storage device at boot. So all I had to do was to change the “one” to “zero” and the forced check was disabled. Since checking your disks regularly is a good idea, I set up a cron job to do that once a week… the world was a sweet place again.