block_dump enables block I/O debugging when set to a nonzero value. If you want to find out which process caused the disk to spin up (see /proc/sys/vm/laptop_mode), you can gather information by setting the flag.

When this flag is set, Linux reports all disk read and write operations that take place, and all block dirtyings done to files. This makes it possible to debug why a disk needs to spin up, and to increase battery life even more. The output of block_dump is written to the kernel output, and it can be retrieved using "dmesg". When you use block_dump and your kernel logging level also includes kernel debugging messages, you probably want to turn off klogd, otherwise the output of block_dump will be logged, causing disk activity that is not normally there.

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Great stuff, I didn't know about the vm.block_dump knob until now. Produces a LOT of messages, but very useful to see where the writes are coming from. Thanks!