Speeding up

“Don’t settle for ‘make boot faster.’ It’s the wrong question. The question is ‘make boot fast’.” – those are the words of two Intel developers rumbling the Linux scene: Arjan van de Ven and Auke Kok. Their idea is a quite uncommon attempt, disregarding the fact that Linus Torvalds dislikes it: They want to boot a whole system in a quite tiny and specified timeframe.

In other words, the time until cpu and disk are idle again waiting for user input without doing background work. But let’s look at the current state: An average Linux box takes about 45 seconds to arrive at the graphical login manager but still does various things in background. But our Intel guys are doing it within 5 seconds, which makes a difference of 40 seconds.

Changes done to the system are starting at the kernel, which should do more things asynchronous, as it wouldn’t have to wait that long for tasks to complete. Another speed gain is dropping the initrd – but that doesn’t bring us the huge boost required. X11 would need to get rid up of compiling the keyboard mappings and video mode probing on startup. Udev is another topic that needs some love. So it’s work in progress, but it’s on the way to mainline.

Regarding the kernel, I could spot the first fastboot patches in the changelog of version 2.6.28. But regarding the rest of the system, it might still take some time.


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