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If you've ever wondered what is thrashing your hard drive but can't figure out which process it is, you can use the iotop utility to help.

To install iotop in Ubuntu:
sudo apt-get install iotop
The iotop utility works the same as the top command that shows system process activity. Just open up a terminal window and type iotop to see a display of all processes and threads, and the amount of disk activity going on.

You can use the left and right arrow keys to change the sorting, and the R key to reverse the sort—but the really useful option is the O key, which changes the display to only show the threads with I/O activity.

[via lifehacker]