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Random hard disk activity.

I have an old box which acts as radio/cd-player/mp3-player. When I play
mp3s, every few minutes (2-6 min, no particular time) there is hard disk
activity which brings the mp3 player to a halt for a few seconds after
which it continues (too few CPU cycles to decode the mp3 maybe?). I haven't
been able to find out what process causes this. 

And to be honest, this also happens when I run other programs, only the
effect is not so profound, eg. I hear the HD activity, but the CD-player
simply plays on.

Anybody some pointers to where I might look or what to tweak. Thanks --hans

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