According to some forum posters, installing Ubuntu could shorten the life expectancy of your laptop's hard drive.

The bugs forum at Launchpad contains a posting that says switching to battery power causes the drive to complete an entire load cycle in a minute.

Storm in a teacup

Another posting pours cold water onto the fear, however. It's not an Ubuntu problem. Instead, the blame lies with the settings on the laptop or hard disk. It seems that Ubuntu uses the default hardware settings, while Windows uses its own set of values.

"Some people are getting a high Load_Cycle_Count because their laptop (BIOS or hard drive firmware) uses too aggressive powermanagement," said the Ubuntu Demon's Blog.

"Ubuntu doesn't touch your hard drive power management settings by default," added Linux dev Matthew Garrett on Advogato. "In almost all cases, it's more likely to be your BIOS or the firmware on your hard drive."