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PowerBook disk drive

Can someone tell me why Apple computer hard drives, at least in laptops,
are very slow? E.g. is the drive or the controller? Responsiveness in my
Powerbook still seems rather bad, and from what I can tell it seems to
be much better starting programs for a second time--either an app like
Firefox or just logging out and logging back into GNOME, e.g. after disk
reads are cached in RAM. Near as I can tell the disk drive I have is a
5400 RPM drive. The hdparm -t numbers with this drive and another 5400
RPM 100GB drive in a Thinkpad are not all that different--30-32 MB/sec
in the PB versus 38-40 MB/sec in the Thinkpad--is that difference enough
to cause a noticeable responsiveness issue when reading from the disk? I
can and will swap out the drives, but I am loathe to open this computer
and do major surgery unless absolutely necessary[0]. This is an awesome
machine--well-designed CPU architecture and bells and whistles that make
it a nice computer even 18 months later--I'd like to use it to it's

[0] This is why:

Andrew J. Barr

"Why must I fail at every attempt at masonry?"
	-- Homer Simpson, "Mom and Pop Art" [AABF15]

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