Ubuntu – How to optimize the OS for SSDs


What steps should be taken before/during/after installation of Ubuntu on a Solid State Drive to optimize performance and ensure maximum durability of the drive?

Best Answer

I have successfully used several different techniques to improve the way Ubuntu uses the storage device, whether that be solid state or traditional drive.

For SSD's you are looking to minimise the number of times the drive is written too, as reads should not add wear to the drive.

1) Manage the swap file

If you do not hibernate your computer and you have ample RAM memory to run all your applications, then in theory you do not need a swap partition.

If you have a mix of SSD and hard drives, place your swap partition on the hard drives only.

2) No Writes for Read Timestamps (suitable for SSD's and hard drives)

Mounting your partitions with the options noatime and nodiratime will stop timestamp writes when you read files and folders. These timestamp writes are not generally required unless you use a local mail server client such as mutt. The reason this is generally a bad idea, is because every read will produce a write when updating the timestamps. This decreases the life of the SSD.

Edit your /etc/fstab configuration file (carefully - take a backup to be sure as breaking your fstab configuration can prevent you system from working):

cp /etc/fstab ~/fstab-backup
gksudo gedit /etc/fstab

Edit the mounting options for your partitions by adding the text noatime and nodiratime to the lines defining your root (/) and other partitions if you have them (/home) - Note: if you have a /home partition, start with that just changing that partition if you are concerned about breaking something

# / was on /dev/sda2 during installation
UUID=587e0dc5-2db1-4cd9-9792-a5459a7bcfd2 /               ext4    noatime,nodiratime,errors=remount-ro 0       1

# /home was on /dev/sda3 during installation
UUID=2c919dc4-24de-474f-8da0-14c7e1240ab8 /home           ext4    noatime,nodiratime,defaults        0       2

You will need to reboot your machine before these changes take effect

3) Minimising writes from the OS and applications

Assuming that you are not running a mission critical product server, most people do not look at logs should something go wrong (especially as serious errors are rare for most Ubuntu users). Therefore you can configure Ubuntu so all logs get written to RAM memory rather than the SSD.

Note: only make the following changes when you have installed all software you are going to use (especially things like Apache web server), otherwise you may experience some issues with missing directories in /var/log

For background to this approach, see prolonging the life of your flash drive on ubuntu-eee.com

Open /etc/fstab with an editor (assuming you have backed up the /etc/fstab file)

gksudo gedit /etc/fstab

Add the following lines at the end of the fstab file and save:

# Uncomment these after all server based applications installed - eg. apache
#tmpfs /tmp tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=1777 0 0
#tmpfs /var/tmp tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=1777 0 0
#tmpfs /var/log tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=0755 0 0 
#tmpfs /var/log/apt tmpfs defaults,noatime 0 0
# none /var/cache unionfs dirs=/tmp:/var/cache=ro 0 0

You will need to reboot your machine before these changes take effect

See also: