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The iostat command is used for monitoring system input/output device loading by observing the time the devices are active in relation to their average transfer rates.
in ubuntu to get the iostat program do this:
sudo apt-get install sysstat
i found this command here:
Yields entries in the form of "/dev/hda1" etc.
Use this if you are on a new system and don't know how the storage hardware (ide, sata, scsi, usb - with ever changing descriptors) is connected and which partitions are available.
Far better than using "fdisk -l" on guessed device descriptors.