TRIM without AHCI in Linux Mint

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Iggy64
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TRIM without AHCI in Linux Mint

Post by Iggy64 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:01 pm

I have been very happy with Mint 17.1, but it is approaching EOL. I plan to do a clean install of Mint 19 in the near future. However, the HDD in my Dell Optiplex 360 desktop is showing some warning signs in the SMART data, and starting to make some odd noises. I may as well pop in a new HDD for installing Mint 19.

I am considering perhaps making it an SSD, but feel hopelessly lost in deciding if an SSD would work well in this system.

Dell Optiplex 360
Core 2 Duo
Dell 0T656F mobo with original A02 BIOS (2006)
NM10 Chipset
82801G SATA Controller (ICH7 Family)

After a ton of research, I am fairly convinced that this controller does not support AHCI mode. It appears that way from the Dell literature, and a search through the BIOS yields no option for choosing a SATA mode. The mode is simply shown as good old IDE.

I am under the impression that I cannot execute TRIM commands without being in AHCI mode. Without TRIM, garbage collection won't be as efficient, and SSD longevity might be diminished. But most of the literature I have read pertains only to Windows OS.

So I really need help finding out:

Do I need to be in AHCI mode in order to run TRIM in Linux -- either as a cron job or manually? (That is, can I somehow run TRIM commands with SATA in IDE mode?)

What are the overall system requirements for doing TRIM in Linux (Mint)?

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Re: TRIM without AHCI in Linux Mint

Post by AlbertP » Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:03 am

In the past automatic TRIM was disabled on some configurations, but in Mint 18/19 it is done weekly on all hardware that supports it.

You can check the capabilities of the disk using hdparm in terminal:

Code: Select all

sudo hdparm -I /dev/sda | grep TRIM
Replace /dev/sda by the name of your disk: you can find it by opening Disks from the menu, click the disk and look at the 'subtitle' at the top of the menu.

(I don't have any computers around to check how it behaves in IDE mode. I only have my laptop with me which uses the NVMe protocol, on which hdparm doesn't give any meaningful output.)
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Re: TRIM without AHCI in Linux Mint

Post by rene » Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:06 pm

Iggy64 wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:01 pm
Do I need to be in AHCI mode in order to run TRIM [ ... ]
Generally, no. The TRIM command is a generic ATA command and available also with the drive being addressed though the old IDE interface. The (primarily and/or for now, I guess I should say) AHCI-specific thing is NCQ. That said....
Iggy64 wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:01 pm
[ ... ] in Linux
... I wouldn't be able to quote specific experience with passing TRIM through the Linux PATA-driver. I do believe you're right that your Optiplex 360 does not in fact have AHCI but that's a definite exception for any machine anyone'd still consider putting an SSD in. As far as I can see Windows 7 can TRIM through IDE and it would as such quite surprise me if Linux wouldn't, but I wouldn't be fully confident that Albert's advised hdparm -I guarantees the Linux driver as well as the hardware to be capable either.

That is, perhaps not maximally useful as a reply but still thought it worthwhile to add that TRIM at the very least is not essentially limited to AHCI.

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Re: TRIM without AHCI in Linux Mint

Post by Iggy64 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:09 pm

Thanks, AlbertP. From what you say, it sounds like Mint will run TRIM automatically on SSDs that support it. And that is good news. My issue, though, is learning whether my OTHER hardware supports it.

Specifically, my old PC (and its SATA controller) does not permit me to do I/O in AHCI mode. I only have IDE mode available.

Across the internet, there are a great number of tutorials that teach how important it is to operate in AHCI mode in order to enable TRIM. However, there are also sources (although less in number, but very emphatic) who claim that AHCI has nothing to do with TRIM, and that TRIM is built into the fundamental ATA protocol. All this is confused by the fact that almost all these people are talking about Windows systems, and very few about Linux. Also, it is not clear in many cases if they are talking only about automatic (by the OS) TRIM, manual TRIM, or cron TRIM.

I am certain that the SSD I would purchase will be TRIM capable. Before I purchase, though, it would be nice to know if the TRIM function in Mint 19 will work on a PC running SATA I/O in IDE mode, rather than in AHCI mode (which I do not have avaialbe).

With all the conflicting info on the web, I am hoping to find some Mint users who are successfully running TRIM while in IDE mode, and what was required to make that work.

Thanks again, for taking time to help me.

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Re: TRIM without AHCI in Linux Mint

Post by Iggy64 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:58 pm

Hi Rene --

Thanks for your kind input. I guess you were writing your post at the same time I was, so I didn't factor your input into my own post.

Your thoughts are very helpful. I hope that someone who is actually running TRIM via IDE might comment to confirm our suspicions that such an arrangement would work.

As far as putting an SSD into my old PC: I need a new primary drive, and was preparing to choose among various HDDs. A number of people recommended that I seriously consider going with an SSD because - even through SATA 2, it would provide a very noticeable speed increase in boot, program loading, and file transfer. Since most of the I/O would be random rather than long continuous, SATA2 would not even be a bottleneck at all. Of course, all this is moot if I can't properly support an SSD with TRIM.

Thanks, again, for your input.

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Re: TRIM without AHCI in Linux Mint

Post by phd21 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:00 pm

Hi Iggy64,

I just read your post and the good replies to it. Here are my thoughts on this as well.

It would help to know more about your system setup. If you run "inxi -Fxzd" and "lsusb" from the console terminal prompt, highlight the results, copy and paste them back here, that should provide enough information.

You can also check to see if your computer has a Bios update available and install that. The SATA drives including SSDrives would work better with AHCI. Have you checked all SATA options in your Bios to make sure there is no AHCI option? I have an older Dell Optiplex 780 usff PC and it has AHCI.
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Re: TRIM without AHCI in Linux Mint

Post by Iggy64 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:29 pm

Thanks phd21,

In addition to the commands you suggested, I have also run
sudo lspci
which I used early on to determine what I/O controller I actually have. The listed controller is NOT included in the list of Intel controllers that support AHCI, according to Intel.

I should add that I am still running the Dell A02 BIOS that came with the PC. Version A07 is now available, but
a) I have no response from Dell as to whether that would help with AHCI
b) I am timid about flashing a BIOS and possibly trashing things. Instead, I'd simply go with a HDD.

Anyhow, here are the results you requested, plus the results of "lspci" :

john@john-360 ~ $ inxi -Fxzd
System: Host: john-360 Kernel: 3.13.0-161-generic i686 (32 bit, gcc: 4.8.4)
Desktop: Xfce 4.11.8 (Gtk 2.24.23) Distro: Linux Mint 17.1 Rebecca
Machine: System: Dell product: OptiPlex 360
Mobo: Dell model: 0T656F version: A02 Bios: Dell version: A02 date: 07/02/2009
CPU: Dual core Intel Core2 Duo CPU E7400 (-MCP-) cache: 3072 KB flags: (lm nx sse sse2 sse3 sse4_1 ssse3) bmips: 11172.1
Clock Speeds: 1: 2793.018 MHz 2: 2793.018 MHz
Graphics: Card: Intel 82G33/G31 Express Integrated Graphics Controller bus-ID: 00:02.0
X.Org: 1.15.1 drivers: intel (unloaded: fbdev,vesa) Resolution: 1024x768@60.0hz
GLX Renderer: Mesa DRI Intel G33 x86/MMX/SSE2 GLX Version: 1.4 Mesa 10.1.3 Direct Rendering: Yes
Audio: Card: Intel NM10/ICH7 Family High Definition Audio Controller driver: snd_hda_intel bus-ID: 00:1b.0
Sound: Advanced Linux Sound Architecture ver: k3.13.0-161-generic
Network: Card: Broadcom NetLink BCM5784M Gigabit Ethernet PCIe driver: tg3 ver: 3.134 bus-ID: 02:00.0
IF: eth0 state: up speed: 1000 Mbps duplex: full mac: <filter>
Drives: HDD Total Size: 1160.2GB (22.4% used) 1: id: /dev/sda model: ST3160318AS size: 160.0GB
2: USB id: /dev/sdb model: My_Passport_0820 size: 1000.2GB
Optical: /dev/sr0 model: N/A rev: N/A dev-links: cdrom
Features: speed: 48x multisession: yes audio: yes dvd: yes rw: cd-r,cd-rw,dvd-r,dvd-ram state: N/A
Partition: ID: / size: 145G used: 107G (78%) fs: ext4 ID: swap-1 size: 2.13GB used: 0.00GB (0%) fs: swap
RAID: No RAID devices detected - /proc/mdstat and md_mod kernel raid module present
Sensors: System Temperatures: cpu: 39.0C mobo: N/A
Fan Speeds (in rpm): cpu: N/A
Info: Processes: 166 Uptime: 21:42 Memory: 991.4/3959.4MB Runlevel: 2 Gcc sys: 4.8.4 Client: Shell inxi: 1.8.4


john@john-360 ~ $ lsusb
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 1058:0820 Western Digital Technologies, Inc. My Passport Ultra (WDBMWV, WDBZFP)
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 005 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 004 Device 002: ID 046d:c016 Logitech, Inc. Optical Wheel Mouse
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 003 Device 002: ID 04f2:0760 Chicony Electronics Co., Ltd Acer KU-0760 Keyboard
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub


> sudo lspci | grep "IDE interface"
00:1f.1 IDE interface: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) IDE Controller (rev 01)
00:1f.2 IDE interface: Intel Corporation NM10/ICH7 Family SATA Controller [IDE mode] (rev 01)

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Re: TRIM without AHCI in Linux Mint

Post by phd21 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 3:25 pm

HI Iggy64,

You are welcome...

I see this more frequently than I would like to, but you have installed a 32-bit version of Linux Mint onto a computer with a 64-bit CPU. You should install a 64-bit version of Linux Mint after backing up anything you want to be saved. I think this is because MS Windows was 32-bit at that time and their system information was reporting that, so people coming to Linux assumed it was a 32-bit computer when it is not.

I would highly recommend installing Linux Mint 18.3 with long-term support until 2021 or the newer Linux Mint 19 with long-term support until 2023.
Iggy64 wrote:I should add that I am still running the Dell A02 BIOS that came with the PC. Version A07 is now available, but
a) I have no response from Dell as to whether that would help with AHCI
b) I am timid about flashing a BIOS and possibly trashing things. Instead, I'd simply go with a HDD.
There appears to be a lot of improvements and hardware bugfixes in the bios updates, I would update and install the newer Bios. I cannot tell from what I just read if updating the Bios will help with SATA AHCI or not, but it is still worth updating.

What advantages to go from A02 to A06 or A07? - Dell Community
https://www.dell.com/community/Desktops ... d-p/111809



The only time a Bios update would be a problem is if you try to forcibly install the wrong Bios update for your computer or device or if the power went out while updating the Bios (If you have a good battery backup (UPS), then use it).

I updated my Dell Bios to A15 in Linux and it works fine. I used a freeDOS v1 disk created with "unetbootin" with the Bios executable and bios update file on it (quick and easy to do).

BIOS Update through Linux Mint
viewtopic.php?f=90&t=266133&hilit=freedos+bios


Hope this helps ...
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Re: TRIM without AHCI in Linux Mint

Post by Iggy64 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 4:09 pm

Thanks for the additional thoughts, phd21 .....

All these ideas should be helpful to me.

Just to clarify: When I installed Mint 17.1 back in 2015, a great deal of the prevailing wisdom said to choose 32-bit if you have a dated processor and a small amount of RAM (2GB or less). It sounded like my Core 2 Duo was on the borderline, and the 2GB of RAM I had at that point was also on the borderline. Although I knew I had a 64-bit-capable processor (easy enough to check), I decided to go with 32-bit, to be on the safe side, for good performance.

Now that Mint 17.1 is nearing EOL, I have been planning to go to Mint 19. Step one was to add 2GB RAM, bringing the total to 4GB, which is - unfortunately - the max for this mobo. I already have Mint 19 64-bit running well on an old laptop with similar CPU and RAM, so my plan is to do the same on this old OptiPlex. (I take satisfaction from running old equipment as long as it is responsive enough for my needs. I have six in all. Adding memory or an HDD is cheap compared with buying a new box.)

Well, after the RAM upgrade, I was getting ready to install Mint 19 xfce 64-bit, when I noticed some new sounds coming from the HDD. A check of the SMART data showed a couple of unkind values, and I figured why do a fresh install on an iffy drive? I was ready to order the HDD when someone asked why in heaven's name I would do that, when an SSD would be so much quicker, even on this older system? I found other similar opinions searching through various forums.

Frankly, even a new HDD would probably be snappier than the old one, and even the old one was quick enough for the purposes of this particular machine. However, I thought I'd explore the SSD route, since they have come down so much in price. The only roadblock in all this has been seeming universal warning to make sure you are running AHCI mode if you expect TRIM to work.

Anyhooo ------

I will definitely take some time studying the new resources you so kindly supplied, and I will report back with any new observations or questions.

Right now, I do have one question I can already ask:

Although I have been planning to go to Mint 19 very soon, you mentioned the option of Mint 18.3. Others in the forum have suggested possibly avoiding Mint 19 for the time being. Do you have strong feelings on this?

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Re: TRIM without AHCI in Linux Mint

Post by phd21 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 4:46 pm

Hi Iggy64,

I know that getting an SSDrive will boot performance dramatically for the better. You can get SSDrives at good prices now too. I have a 256gb Silicon Power that works great at a great price too ($38us), and I have a 480gb Patriot Burst drive that works well for a good price too (Gift ~$65). Don't forget that these are small laptop type drives, so you may need a "mounting kit" ($5-$10us).

Amazon.com: Silicon Power 512GB SSD 3D NAND A55 SLC Cache Performance Boost SATA III 2.5" 7mm (0.28") Internal Solid State Drive (SP512GBSS3A55S25) $65us
https://www.amazon.com/Silicon-Power-Pe ... WVW4A3NK1A

I do not see why you could not run the "trim" command even if you do not have SATA AHCI.

You should still upgrade to a 64-bit Linux Mint because a lot of software is not being updated or maintained for 32-bit systems anymore.

I would also update your computer's Bios.

As for updating to Linux Mint 18.3 based on Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial or Linux Mint 19 based on Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic, that is a personal preference. You can easily create bootable DVD's or USB sticks of each and try them for yourself. Some software is not easily available yet for Linux Mint 19 based on Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic and other software that had to be installed outside of the Linux Mint repositories (Software Manager or Synaptic Package Manager (SPM)) before can now be installed through them, current versions too. I have been able to install all the software that I used in Linux Mint 18.3 in Linux Mint 19 even if they do not have a PPA for Linux Mint 19 yet by downloading the software as Xenial deb files from their PPA and installing that. They have also changed some of the security aspects of Linux in this new version, so there have been some issues with that, but they too can be easily resolved.

Hope this helps ...
Last edited by phd21 on Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:43 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: TRIM without AHCI in Linux Mint

Post by rene » Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:28 pm

Iggy64 wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:58 pm
I hope that someone who is actually running TRIM via IDE might comment to confirm our suspicions that such an arrangement would work.
But assuming no one does, I just now switched an ICH10 system to non-AHCI. This has it use the same ata_piix low-level libata driver your ICH7 will be using and trim is working fine:

Code: Select all

$ sudo fstrim -av
/home: 136 GiB (146013265920 bytes) trimmed
/: 22,5 GiB (24124874752 bytes) trimmed
Also, every source I can find on the subject says that the support was merged in kernel 2.6.33 and is fully libata-generic; ahci is just another low-level libata driver in that sense.

I am, that is, rather convinced you'd have no trouble with trim support. I'm also after some further probing convinced that indeed your system does not have AHCI support (you seem to feature a 82801GB) which means no amount of updating BIOSen or switching to 64-bit would matter in that respect. Clearly both are still good ideas regardless.

Yes, the speed-up will be or at least feel quite dramatic, also on SATA2. You might contemplate getting an older/cheaper SSD since you don't need maximum current throughput anyway; the much more important part is the near-elimination of seek times. You may for example expect the boot sequence to be a factor 3 or more faster.

As to Mint 19 vs. 18.3: I'd go with 19. Haven't experienced any regressions from 18.3 on older hardware.

Now let's go find out why my above fstrim command told me I had that much to trim; this system should not in fact experience very significant churn. Maybe I was coming up on the weekly schedule...

[EDIT] Ah, that number's basically just the free space; the device will itself make sure to not bother for blocks which have not in fact since the last trim been written to (man fstrim).

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Re: TRIM without AHCI in Linux Mint

Post by Iggy64 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:25 pm

Wow -- I really appreciate the help from you folks.

Phd21, it is very helpful to know your personal experience with a system that is not too far afield from mine. I have been reviewing the resources you provided me, and am learning more and more as I go along. As I mentioned already, I had been planning on 64-bit Mint 19 xfce for my fresh install, and hence added the extra 2GB RAM stick. Upgrading the BIOS will apparently not help with the AHCI issue, as the controller does not support AHCI. However, as there may be other benefits from upgrading the BIOS, I did check the instructions you linked, as well as those published directly by Dell at https://www.dell.com/support/article/us ... ts?lang=en. Dell posted so many ominous warnings there, it makes me wonder if I should try it. I think, though, that if I can prepare the bootable USB of FreeDOS, I should be pretty good to go. I'll give it a go and see what happens. I thank you again for all the great suggestions and resources. Thank you for your kindness and your patience.

Rene, I thank you again, as well. It is very generous of you to actually run a demonstration of TRIM on a non-AHCI setup, just to help me! That's the kind of proof that gets me past all the conflicting reports and instructions I've found scattered about the web. Thanks, too, for confirming my conclusions regarding my controller. I'm obviously not as experienced as you or phd21, so your help gives me much more confidence in moving ahead. Thank you, thank your, thank you!

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Re: TRIM without AHCI in Linux Mint

Post by phd21 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:56 pm

HI Iggy64,

You are welcome from all of us that replied...

Let us know how it goes with everything...
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Re: TRIM without AHCI in Linux Mint

Post by AlbertP » Sun Nov 11, 2018 9:04 pm

I have not been clear, I see. The hdparm command which I mentioned should be sufficient to check whether TRIM is accessible, as it queries libata. It won't be able to detect any options that the SATA controller is messing with, as you can't bypass said controller from software.
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Re: TRIM without AHCI in Linux Mint

Post by Iggy64 » Mon Nov 12, 2018 11:27 am

Thank you, AlbertP, for that reminder and clarification.

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Re: TRIM without AHCI in Linux Mint

Post by dudesplace » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:48 am

An SSD will always work better, I even have an older PC with IDE only, no SATA, and found a SSD with an IDE controller for about $60. even with IDE controller it is still faster than any spinner. However you can NOT trim on this drive as it thinks it's a standard drive. But I have found no reason to, You can do e4defrag
which I tried on it once, but there is really no need to. It seemed to make no difference. Just keep it clean and remove/purge old stuff and it should be fine. It is not about 2 years old now and have reloaded, updated, reformatted, reinstalled many times on it and have never had a failure , that was not a I/O error.
AS it is my test machine, namely for Linux stuff there were many idiot operator errors. Also this machine will not run any current Windows OS's, It cam with Windows 98 ok!

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Re: TRIM without AHCI in Linux Mint

Post by phd21 » Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:50 am

Hi Iggy64, and dudesplace,

The hdparm command from "AlbertP" will let you know if the SSDrive supports the Trim function. Most newer SSDrives do.

FYI: If you have an older computer that only supports IDE/PATA controller and you want to use a SATA drive (SSD, DVD/CD, HDD, etc...) you can buy a low-cost SATA-IDE/PATA adapter which works really well ($10us or less). I do not know if this supports the SSD Trim function though?

Code: Select all

sudo hdparm -I /dev/sda | grep TRIM
* Data Set Management TRIM supported (limit 8 blocks)

SSD: how to optimize your Solid State Drive for Linux Mint 19 - Easy Linux tips project
https://sites.google.com/site/easylinuxtipsproject/ssd
IDE/PATA to SATA adapters wrote: Amazon.com: HDE IDE/EIDE/PATA Computer to SATA Hard Drive Interface Adapter for PC and Mac: Computers & Accessories
https://www.amazon.com/HDE-Computer-Dri ... B008X8NK0I

Amazon.com: Serial ATA SATA to Parallel ATA PATA/IDE Hard Drive HDD CD DVD-ROM Interface Convert Adapter:
https://www.amazon.com/Parallel-DVD-ROM ... N2HNXYF69E

Amazon.com: Laptop IDE Drive to SATA Adapter, 44 pin 2.5'' IDE HDD Laptop Hard Drive Female to 7+15 pin Male SATA Adapter to Connect a Laptop IDE Drive to a SATA Port: Computers & Accessories
https://www.amazon.com/Laptop-Drive-Ada ... XT9XCVQR2H
Hope this helps ...
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Re: TRIM without AHCI in Linux Mint

Post by phd21 » Fri Nov 16, 2018 5:22 pm

Hi Iggy64, and dudesplace, etc...

FYI: I have an even older, more ancient, underpowered computer (IBM Netvista) than the one I am using right now (Dell Optiplex 780) that does not have a SATA drive interface and is only 32-bit.

I attached an SSDrive using a SATA to IDE/PATA adapter. The SSDrive has 2 partitions Linux Mint 19.x (64-bit) partition and a data partition using NTFS. The Bios recognized the drive, but would not boot to a 64-bit partition (obviously). So I booted into Linux Mint 17.3 KDE 32-bit that is on this computer and I could not access the Linux Mint 64-bit partition but I could access the NTFS partition, I opened a console terminal window and it would not run the hdparm or fstrim commands without I/O errors (ioctl errors).
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