March 24, 2019

Linux Hard Drive Optimization: Tuning and Scheduling (part 2)

Configuring Your Schedulers

  • May 15, 2009
  • By Paul Rubens
Paul Rubens

In the first piece in this series we looked at the role schedulers play in I/O optimization. But how do you actually select and tune a scheduler to increase I/O performance in practice?

The obvious first question that must be answered is this: Which scheduler should you use? It's a deceptively difficult question, and the answer will depend on many inter-related factors, including the applications running, the size of the files you are read and writing, the frequency of your file read and writes, and the pattern of these reads and writes. The only thing that can be said with much certainty is that unless you are using a solid state drive or RAM disk - which can access all files equally fast - the noop scheduler is the worst choice. The other, active schedulers should all perform better than noop with conventional spinning disks.

There's some evidence that when many different types of applications are requesting many different types of disk reads and writes the deadline scheduler is the best all-round performer, but in the end the best course of action is probably to test all three active schedulers and choose the one that gives the best results.

So once you've chosen a scheduler to test, how do you get your system to use it? There two primary ways to do this: at boot through a configuration file or on the fly from the command line. The examples we use here work for Red Hat Enterprise Linux but should be similar for any distribution you happen to be using.

To set a scheduler at boot, edit




to the end of the line that specifies the kernel. Scheduler names include "noop", "cfq", "deadline" and "as" (for anticipatory).

Alternatively, to set a given scheduler for disk hda on the fly, simply bring up a terminal and type:


To verify what scheduler hda is currently using, type

cat /sys/block/hda/queue/scheduler

You'll see something like:

noop anticipatory 'deadline' cfq

which would indicate that the deadline scheduler is currently in use.

Once you've chosen and set a scheduler, you can tune it to work optimally with your system by altering various parameters. These parameters differ for each scheduler. The exception to this is the noop scheduler, which actually has no tunable parameters.

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