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I am using Solaris 11 Express and activated the power.conf which makes my disks go idling after 30 mins like a charm. I can hear the disks spin up when I access something ZFS disk-related.

Is it possible to check the disks' idle-status without waking them up?

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Do you really conserve power that way? Most probably your disks will die faster that way. – Nils Aug 29 '12 at 20:27

It seems the smartmontools package can do what you want.

Of special interest in this case is the -n option in the smartd configuration, which should prevent smartd from spinning up any idle disks.

A download is available for OpenSolaris, so you may have some luck getting it to work on Solaris 11 Express; if that doesn't work you can always try installing from source.

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That is a very good hint, thank you. However, under Solaris 11Express using the following command: ./smartctl -n standby -i -d sat,12 /dev/rdsk/c8t1d0 returns "Device is in STANDBY mode, exit(2)" but it is spinning. Using the scsi device-type: ./smartctl -n standby -i -d sat,12 /dev/rdsk/c8t1d0 it returns few and partially invalid SMART-information on the SATA-drive. So I wonder whether the standby-detection really works with SATA under Solaris... Will dig into this, thank you! – hotzen Sep 5 '12 at 10:49
There are 5 power modes for a disk, in order of increasing power use: OFF, SLEEP, STANDBY, IDLE, and ACTIVE. In most cases, a disk in status 'STANDBY' is not spinning, but there may be exceptions. I would suggest you check the status of a disk which has spun down, there's a chance that this disk has status 'SLEEP'. – brain99 Sep 5 '12 at 13:40

How about using fuser to list open files. If there are no files containing the path to your mounted device. It would be idle. You can grep for your mount point to make it more easily readable

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