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Power Software Hardware Linux

PC Makers Try To Pinch Seconds From Their Boot Times 399

Posted by timothy
from the an-operating-system-called-linux dept.
Some computers are never turned off, or at least rarely see any state less active than "standby," but others (for power savings or other reasons) need rebooting — daily, or even more often. The New York Times is running a short article which says that it's not just a few makers like Asus who are trying to take away some of the pain of waiting for computers, especially laptops, to boot up. While it's always been a minor annoyance to wait while a computer slowly grinds itself to readiness, "the agitation seems more intense than in the pre-Internet days," and manufacturers are actively trying to cut that wait down to a more bearable length. How bearable? A "very good system is one that boots in under 15 seconds," according to a Microsoft blog cited, and an HP source names an 18-month goal of 20-30 seconds.
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PC Makers Try To Pinch Seconds From Their Boot Times

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  • So... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MaverickMila (1208852) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @03:12AM (#25515423)
    I cut down on my startup time by buying a new harddrive that didn't come without all the preloaded drivers and crap and reinstalling the OS. My dell now loads in approximately 45 seconds. Which admittedly is a little more than the "optimal" 20 second time, but it much better than the 3 minutes I had to wait before.
  • by cephalien (529516) <benjaminlungerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @03:12AM (#25515429)

    Why this is still an issue in this day and age.

    For example, my Mac will go from startup to login in half the time of either Vista -or- Ubuntu (not counting what happens -after- login, but as far as applications go, they're fairly straightforward), but my TV will start in a second or two. So did my old Commodore 64.

    How is it that the more power we get, the -longer- this takes? And why is it that the solution always involves hardware makers? Maybe we need to look at how our operating systems are constructed instead of blaming the hardware itself.

  • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @03:20AM (#25515471) Homepage

    Boot time is a pain that we have had since the first IBM PC was released. And it's not only boot time but also shut down time that can be painful.

    And for networked PC:s with a roaming profile you will get raped in boot time whenever you have a large profile for some reason.

    Some of the time that it takes originates from the "need" to count memory and some for waiting on a bunch of devices to initialize and start. No parallel tasks during startup at all.

    Only computer with a decent startup (under a second) that I have experienced was a computer with a ROM Basic interpreter, but then, that's a completely different animal.

  • Startup Programs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mockidol (1031242) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @03:26AM (#25515505)
    There needs to be an industry wide effort to prevent startup bloatware. Why does windows let AIM install itself as a startup program without having the damn UAC complain that this is a protected area? Why does every HP come with 30 preinstalled programs in the startup? Startup items need to be protected in some way: Seriously, I love it if I installed a program and windows said, "Are you sure you want this program to start automatically with windows?" We should just kill the hardware comapnies for the bloatware they install for kickbacks.
  • It's psychological (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jazz-Masta (240659) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @03:41AM (#25515571)

    It's not like the user will be doing anything for the first minute after the computer starts anyway. It's merely the act of waiting and not being able to interact while it boots. Once it boots up people will still *do nothing* of importance on it.

    It's psychological - the user wants to see progress. Even if it boots up and shows the desktop quickly, the user will have to wait until all the startup programs finish loading. If they can double-click on IE (oops, Firefox, since we're on Slashdot) sooner they will be happy, even if the system is only semi-responsive.

  • AHCI Firmware (Score:4, Insightful)

    by boa13 (548222) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @03:43AM (#25515587) Homepage Journal

    I just bought a new PC, and was absolutely dismayed when I activated the AHCI (SATA) firmware to discover it added about ten full seconds to the boot time. I have no idea what it performs during that time (some kind of calibration? I sure hope it's not a stupid just-to-be-safe timeout).

    Conversely, I have desactivated IDE support, and it has now become very hard to enter the BIOS since the initial screen goes by so fast. I get about a quarter of a second to press the right key.

    The usability of the BIOS is exactly the same as it was ten years ago. It's a shame no progress has occurred in that area in such a long time. I want it to go as fast as possible when everything is settled, but I also want to be able to pause and look at everything step by step while I am installing hardware. Apparently no one cares about that. :(

  • by EvanED (569694) <evaned@@@gmail...com> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @03:45AM (#25515589)

    ...but my TV will start in a second or two

    Yeah, but look what's happening with modern TVs. Many new TVs take a second or two to change channels, and it seems to be getting worse. I don't know what it is about them, because my decade-old TV changes almost instantly.

    Advance in some ways, regress in others (even if they are less important).

  • by mlts (1038732) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @03:56AM (#25515633)

    What I have noticed is that what is one of the major culprits in long boot times is antivirus software starting up and doing its integrity checks. Reduce this, and you will reduce times perhaps by five minutes on some machines. However, with Windows, I doubt AV makers could do it without reducing security though.

  • by Aerynvala (1109505) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @04:05AM (#25515665) Homepage
    Considering how many users don't know that's even an option, probably most. Most of the non-technical people I know approach computers as if they were an appliance. Which means they think that most of the look of the product, if not all of it, cannot be changed. It wouldn't even occur to them that they could change it.
  • by iamacat (583406) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @04:08AM (#25515675)

    Your TV starts in a second because its boot sequence is generally about as long as it takes to copy the firmware into RAM. Its hardware is fixed, the software doesn't have to go around poking for it, and its entire firmware is probably under a megabyte of code loaded directly from NOR flash.

    Oh well, my computer is equipped with a hard drive that can probably copy around 128MB of "firmware" (kernel and working sets of running processes saved from last boot) within a second. Its hardware is fixed and I am willing to press some key if I upgrade it and need the OS to poke around for changes at boot. So where is the justification for degraded performance aside from programmers' laziness? Fast boot requires some clever thinking, but not more so than writing text to CGA with maximum possible speed but without now.

  • by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @04:34AM (#25515769)

    BEos and it's original hardware was the last, best hope for a solid, no B.S. modern computer that was re-designed from scratch for maximum performance with pre-emtpive multitasking.

    I see it as a chicken and egg problem. The barrier to entry in the OS market is extremely tough because software manufacturers won't invest the time in porting their apps unless the hardware or OS is established, and that can't happen without the software. The OS market is well beyond it's infancy now, not that it's a good thing.

    The way I see it, it would have to get much, much worse than it is now for companies like Adobe to say "hey, lets throw our weight behind this new OS/Platform." For example, if MS completely bungled Windows 7, or whatever they are calling it these days. Two failed OS's in a row, and maybe it will finally make a dent in their market share. And I don't much like apple because their hardware prices remain artifically high, due to them being the sole provider for both OS and hardware. It doesn't help that MS also makes the world standard of office suites. They will always push their own OS with it first.

    The competitiveness of the PC hardware market is excellent, and many previously frustrating compatiblity issues have gone away with the advent of newer motherboards and slot standards, narrowing the hardware quality control and consistency between PC hardware and Mac hardware.

    PC hardware with a new OS would be great. Apple understandibly wants to control the hardware that Mac OSX runs on, because it's much easier to assure qualtiy and provide support that way. But that support comes at a cost. What we need is an OS that runs on generic hardware that is written from scratch for lean performance, by neither of those two vendors.

  • by ChameleonDave (1041178) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @04:35AM (#25515773) Homepage

    What really gets me is not just the boot time but the shutdown time. Especially because I often reboot (shutdown time + boot time).

    When I tell my PC to shut down, all it really needs to do is make sure that no files are currently being written to disk, force a dismount of all drives, and then cut the power. Everything else is bad programming, as far as I can see. Why does the network have to shut down? Why do a whole load of separate processes have to be given signals? Why does KDE need time to save settings (it should have already saved them in real time)?

    If the computer is not doing anything, a clean shutdown should take no more than a second, and yet it can take much longer.

  • by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @04:39AM (#25515791)

    Probably the most annoying side effect of digital tuners. It has to find the stream and begin to decode it. Your old TV changed channels instantly because it was an analog tuner with pre-set frequency decoding for each channel position. The TV did no thinking, it simply is looking at a different frequency on the receiver and de-modulating it into the CRT, and all of that happens at the speed of light.

    Newer tuners are all digital, and while you generally get better picture quality even on analog channels, it has to capture the analog or digital transmission, decode it / encode it and then pass it on to the LCD display. Typically there's some 'start time' involved in this. I expect that particular feature will be a selling point to differentiate TVs in the future, once they've run out of other things and the tuner hardware becomes more powerful.

  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @04:40AM (#25515793)

    Your breakdown is correct: I'm glad I scrolled down instead of starting my own thread.

    * BIOS boot) This takes time because it's in a minimal feature mode, BIOS RAM is quite expensive to deal with. And it's looking for a load of ancient cruft you don't have installed. BIOS's are some of the buggiest, nasty, proprietary, vendor specific, burdened with workarounds crap you will ever see. The fix is simple: open up the BIOS and clean out all the stuff you don't need on that motherboard. LinuxBIOS does _exactly_ this, which is why the OLPC project has incredibly fast BIOS load times. I really wish motherboard makers would take the hint and sell their features, instead of wasting their engineering time re-inventing the IBOS and continually getting it wrong.

    * OS boot) This is also a problem. People keep re-inventing the wheel here as well, and never quite getting it right. Every OS and boot-time software loader needs to deal with a huge stack of dependencies, assuring that the startup tools occur in the right order and negotiating their own requirements, each in their own way. And every one has to deal with the manufacturer's ideas, and the legacy work of the previous OS's, and the legacy of other critical software. It's a mess. And it's not just the kernel, it's the video drivers, the network drivers, the various web servers and update tools and debris.

    Fortunately, it's easy to optimize. Modern operating systems are multi-threaded, and a lot of it can be set to low priority as long as the dependency chains are well documented and clear. Network is needed to get your DHCP hostname and start up your X server, or your web server, or your shared network drives? Then network comes *FIRST*, or very, very early. And that relies on detecting your network ports, correctly. That means USB and PCI and built-in drivers need to be detected and loaded, which takes time.

    * App level) Here is a the remaining mess, as you mentioned. And it's a mess. X and displays won't run without the hostname set? Then you did something wrong, as the developer. They should be configured for localhost, not an unstable hostname. You need to reboot to load a patch? Then you usually did something wrong. It should be configurable in userland, and not force resetting of your system boot procedures.

  • by iangoldby (552781) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @04:59AM (#25515855) Homepage

    I'd even put making a pc more power efficient, or making the manufacturing more environmentally friendly as more important than shaving a few more seconds off my boot time.

    The most power-efficient PC is one that is switched off and unplugged at the mains.

    Perhaps more people would do this if when they switched it back on it was ready to use right then.

    The sole reason most people leave their PCs on is because they want that 5-second email check to take 5 seconds, not five minutes.

  • by davester666 (731373) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @05:05AM (#25515881) Journal

    Obviously, we must stop using using pansy C/C++/Java/Ruby/etc... languages and go back to writing everything in assembler. Then boot times will rock!

    Duh.

  • by Waccoon (1186667) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @05:43AM (#25515989)

    Well, it would help if people didn't like them so much, or at least tolerate them.

    Look at Steam. I hate Steam with a passion on principle, because Valve forced people to install it, and it always ran on the computer even when Valve's games did not. To this day, I still have not installed HL2 or the Orange Box on my system, and I have remained very vocal about the forced installation of background tasks. Other people complained at first, but now, all I hear from people is how awesome Steam is and how they love buying things off it, and I should shut up about it. The fact that it is there all the time, constantly doing things in the background just doesn't phase them. After all, they can simply blame their 3-minute boot times on Microsoft.

    What about all the "helper" programs? Every time I install some kind of driver, there's about 3-5 system services that get added to my system. When I search for information about these services, the web pages I encounter tell me that the services are not required, but that they enhance performance, so I shouldn't disable them. Excuse me? Enhance performance? In what respect? What if I only use that part of my system once a day, but it adds about 75-100MB of data to my swap file on startup? If not done correctly, pre-caching can seriously slow down a computer, and I see that every day when I fix other peoples' computers. And yet, other people tell me I shouldn't complain about it?

    I stopped using Google Chrome when I found out that it installed an automatic updater with no way to disable it, short of hunting it down and deleting the main executable. Without deleting the file, Chrome just put it right back into active use again. Chrome also used to write about 1.5 gigabytes to my hard drive every time I started it up. Why? Well, that's part of the safe browsing initiative, where the browser downloads and installs a record of bad web sites. What if I have one of those flash drives? Will an app that writes several gigs of data to the drive every day wear it out prematurely? Do the commercial developers care?

    No, they don't... because home users don't care, either, or at least they don't know any better.

    Meanwhile, people still ask me to fix their computers all the time, and the only thing I can do to keep boot times under a minute is disable half their software. Then, their friends tell them to buy a Mac, and all the performance problems will go away. Is that why my Mac only has Apple software installed and takes 1.5 minutes to boot, whereas my XP system boots in 18 seconds with Apache and MySQL in the background?

  • by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker@gn u . org> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @05:56AM (#25516079) Homepage

    my TV will start in a second or two. So did my old Commodore 64. How is it that the more power we get, the -longer- this takes?

    It's because we make our systems do more stuff. How much did those system do when they were started up?

    Did they mount a couple of file systems, start cron+http+aptcache+distcc+cpufreqd+ntp daemons and wait for DHCP_ACK, then mount some more file systems and load up a highly configurable login screen?

    I think it'd be easy to boot into a one-button gui saying "bring the system into a usable state now, please". XP does something like this.

    Especially the TV comparison is unfair; the TV is a one-purpose box with the functionality done mostly in hardware. I'm sure one could write a minimalistic kernel that supports exactly one TV tuner card, exactly one graphics card and exactly one sound card, and have it boot into watch-TV-mode quite fast. That'd be closer to an apples-to-apples comparison [but not enough: the TV doesn't have a BIOS that supports general-purpose computing and does a lot of checks].

    For example, my Mac will go from startup to login in half the time of either Vista -or- Ubuntu (not counting what happens -after- login [...])

    Why do you omit counting what happens after login? Isn't the useful measure of boot time how long it takes from pressing the power button to having a computer that's usable?

    By only measuring up to an arbitrary point, one can inflate boot speeds by deferring everything until after that arbitrary point. That doesn't give you a usable computer any sooner, it just cooks your numbers. See my one-button OS.

    From what I hear, what OS X does right is deferring everything until after the login screen, plus lazily starting up services once you're logged in, such that the desktop is usable while the system is "post-login booting", and prioritizing well: if you ask for a networked file system, it'll do networking before, say, the frequency scaling daemon.

    It's not just giving you a login screen. It's giving you a usable desktop with as short a wait as possible.

  • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MPAB (1074440) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:11AM (#25516149)

    I don't mind boot time so much - what really gets on my nerves is when a machine comes on, pretends it's ready but is then maybe five minutes doing other stuff before you can actually use it while you stare at the screen and frustratedly try to click on things. That's especially bad in the roaming profile scenario you mentioned.

    That's perhaps the worst part, as most people that have no idea of how a computer works will start clicking on progran after program, thus starting yet another parallel process that adds up to the rest. And parallel processes take more than the same ones in series because of memory/disk seek times and the need to share a common pipeline.
    I always try to encourage people not to "start" after the screen appears, but after "the red light goes from always on to scarcely blinking". Of course most people ignore the advice and press things frantically till they end up CTRL-ALT-DELing and thinking it did the trick.

  • by asbestosyvonne (1394185) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:17AM (#25516165)
    Sure, your Commodore 64 itself started in a second or two; but who else remembers waiting 10-15 minutes for 'Shinobi' to load?...No one?...guess it must just be me.
  • by dreamchaser (49529) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:23AM (#25516183) Homepage Journal

    He said 'written for lean performance'. That is not Linux. I'm not saying Linux performs poorly, but it's hardly designed with performance being the primary goal, and it *certainly* doesn't boot nearly as fast as BeOS did.

  • by Bert64 (520050) <bert@slash d o t . f i renzee.com> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @06:35AM (#25516233) Homepage

    New hardware or a new OS is doomed to failure because of proprietary software distributed only as binaries... Open source typically gets ported fairly quickly to a new OS or new architecture.

    Your very right tho, proprietary vendors won't port their apps to an os or architecture which hasn't got any users, and it will never get any users without the apps people use.

    If you want progress, then software needs to be open source, that way people making operating systems and hardware will be free to innovate safe in the knowledge that they will be able to port the apps themselves even if noone else will.
    Look at the Itanium architecture, and how much money Intel spent convincing vendors to port their apps, and still there's very little closed source that's been ported to it... Yes it will run windows, but 90% of the apps you'd use on it run under very slow emulation.

  • by Koiu Lpoi (632570) <koiulpoi.gmail@com> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @07:02AM (#25516333)

    Har har, he made a joke! It would be funny if it had even a small ring of truth to it, except he has no idea what he's talking about! Vista 64 runs all 32 bit applications Vista 32 can. The only thing it's missing is 16-bit support (and qq over that, really), and for most computers (that don't have ridiculous off brand hardware) you can get all the drivers you need.

    But don't let me or the facts get in the way of bashing "M$" for the "lulz", am I right?

  • Having extra stuff installed is not a problem per se, at least not on linux or osx...

    Having extra stuff loaded at startup is an issue...
    Having extra stuff which cannot be removed is an issue...

    On windows, merely installing something typically adds crap to the registry which has to be loaded anyway, even if you never use the program itself, there are often update daemons loaded at startup because there's no other way to keep arbitrary apps up to date and uninstall programs work on the principle of trusting the app vendor to provide a working uninstaller, and they are usually completely half assed and dysfunctional because the app vendors doesn't want their app to be removed and isn't going to assign much priority to it.

  • by geekboy642 (799087) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @07:43AM (#25516507) Journal

    It's simple, Bert64:
    Fast CPU - cheap, and getting cheaper
    Good programmer - expensive, and getting more pricey

    Obviously, optimize the most expensive part first, i.e. get a cheaper programmer and have him use a "kiddie" language.

  • by TheLink (130905) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @09:56AM (#25517161) Journal
    Yeah, but as you add more types of hardware it starts to get messy.

    Say if you had two SCSI controllers and they both decided to use CTRL-A to enter their config screen.

    You hold CTRL-A down, power on the machine and instantly you see the first SCSI controller's screen. No way to configure the second SCSI controller :).

    You press escape, the machine reboots (that's what they all do, it appears easier to do than going to the next boot step) while you're still holding ctrl-a down and you see the first controller's screen ;).

    In theory someone (e.g. Intel) could create some new fancy standard where all compliant devices never wait for human response on booting, and in order to configure them you must hold down some key on boot to launch a super menu, that can itself launch the appropriate firmware "config" routine.

    That'll be nice. I hate waiting for all that crap when booting up servers. But I don't have a big enough stick to make Adaptec and friends do things differently.
  • Re:So... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by digitalaudiorock (1130835) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @09:59AM (#25517175)

    I don't mind boot time so much - what really gets on my nerves is when a machine comes on, pretends it's ready but is then maybe five minutes doing other stuff before you can actually use it while you stare at the screen and frustratedly try to click on things. That's especially bad in the roaming profile scenario you mentioned.

    That's been one of my #1 annoyances about Windows for some time now. I primarily use Gentoo with a really lean fluxbox desktop which of course doesn't suffer from that. However even with heavier environments like KDE/Gnome the fact remains that with Linux, the desktop starts last and is generally ready to use when you see it.

    I recently bought a notebook running XP for development and that stuff drives me nuts. There have been times that I thought it was all ready and attempted to navigate the programs menu with the keyboard only to have the focus stolen by something and the menu vanish....two or three things like that and you're about ready to throw it under a bus.

    I don't know if it's still true, but I remember at a previous job seeing situations where Win 2k would let you do things that actually wouldn't work correctly because, for example, networking hadn't properly started yet. That goes beyond annoying to plain old bad design.

    I've always felt this was a poor attempt to make it appear that the OS was booting faster than it really is...just awful.

  • "Linux" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Junta (36770) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @10:03AM (#25517199)

    Linux actually can boot really quick. The kernel takes relatively trivial amount of time to get to 'init'. At that point, the distributions make choices in userspace that may make a distribution slow or fast to boot.

  • Re:So... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by electrictroy (912290) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @10:19AM (#25517295)

    >>>Boot time is a pain that we have had since the first IBM PC was released. And it's not only boot time but also shut down time that can be painful.

    I disagree. Shutdown time is no big deal because you can go grab a snack while the computer shutsdown. You don't have to wait.

    As for startup time, back in the days of floppy-based OSes like the IBM or Commodore Amiga, it only took 5 seconds to go from turn-on to a CLI or Workbench interface. Even faster with a hard drive.

    The reason today's computers are so ridiculously slow is because they load a bunch of crap. Why? Do I need to have Itunes or Quicktime or Microsoft Office preloaded in the background? Absolutely not. If they followed the philosophy of earlier OSes, where programs were only loaded *when needed*, then the bootup time would be very short.

  • by Toll_Free (1295136) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @11:06AM (#25517609)

    Close it when I'm done, it just goes to sleep. Open it when I need a quick weather map, it takes but 2 seconds to connect and fetch the map, then just close it. And it always works just like that.

    Let's see Vista do that! PS Windoze really does blow chunks.

    Are you really that ignorant?

    I mean, seriously. I reboot my machine once a month. And I close the lid on the VISTA X64 powered machine at least daily. It's my TV, my computer and my stereo, so it actually happens, more like, 4 or 5 times a day.

    But seriously... Do you NEVER really open your eyes to anything else around you, unless it has an Apple on the front.

    And here's a question, which OS had the sleep / hibernate feature first? I > win95, but since I REFUSED to have a laptop until the last couple years, it was never a feature I looked at or cared about until recently.

    --Toll_Free

  • by DerWulf (782458) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @11:17AM (#25517677)
    yes, get back to me when your precious commodore supports LAN, WLAN, 3D graphics, hundreds of input and output peripherals and the literal million things that a modern PC can do. There is a reason for this "sloppyness": hardware is cheap while developer time is not.
  • Re:So... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anpheus (908711) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:17PM (#25518051)

    Your printer driver is now a complete rendering engine for a number of different formats that you may never use.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:41PM (#25518193)

    What I find particularly offensive is the Microsoft marketing department forcing a visible desktop that makes it appear the machine is ready, where any enterprise build will take more than it takes to get a coffee before it is finally really is, even after defragging the disk.

    I think there is something wrong with your setup then. I've had XP machines, domain bound, running Norton Anti Virus(!) boot, login and play the chimes in ~25 seconds on thinkpad t41s with the other minitray icons up within 10 more seconds.

    If you have a long delay between logging in and ANY desktop activity, it's an AD/GP issue, and a 1 line fix. Especially if it's not an issue until you've bound it to the domain.

    Having possibly tantalized you with that identification of your issue, I will now not post the 1 line.

    Go go consulting fees!

    (I'll bookmark this so I can find it later if you want to reply)

  • Gresham's Law (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2008 @02:09PM (#25518865)

    yes, get back to me when your precious commodore supports LAN, WLAN, 3D graphics, hundreds of input and output peripherals and the literal million things that a modern PC can do

    But on my 3.2 bajigahertz Pentium Dual-Quad PosiTraction(tm) Gold Edition PC that I'm typing this on:

    - I don't use "hundreds of input and output peripherals". I use two. One more than I did on my C-64.
    - I don't do any WLAN stuff ever. Just like I didn't on my C-64.
    - I don't use anything LAN related on boot. Just like I didn't on my C-64.
    - I don't use 3D graphics on boot. Just like I didn't on my C-64. Granted, I do use them when playing 3D games, but that's well after boot. And when I do use 3D graphics, I have a whole separate high-performance hardware subsystem dedicated solely to generating those 3D graphics. And guess what? My system's 3D performance is far *better* than that of my C-64's, while simultaneously delivering far *better* quality! Why can I have both speed and quality improvements in 3D graphics but not in boot time?
    - I don't do a "million things" on boot. I rarely want to do more than one: select a local application which needs no LAN access and run it. Just like I did on my C-64.

    So, it appears that your defense of PC boot slowness reduces to: "You're using a mouse now. That makes the 2 second boot times you got with your 1 MHz C-64 physically impossible, even with hardware that runs at THREE THOUSAND TIMES THAT SPEED and has over THIRTY THOUSAND TIMES the amount of RAM." Yeah, everything looks worse in black and white, doesn't it?

    Here's the fact jack: PCs boot slow because users tolerate it. If all of a sudden PCs that took minutes to boot to a state where you could run Notepad started sitting on the shelves, guess what? Right: The problem would get solved. Very quickly. Why? Because all of a sudden there would be value to the MS's, Linuxes, and Dells of the world in doing the work required to make boot times what they should be.

    This is purely and Econ 101 issue, not a technical one. It's called Gresham's Law: "Bad money drives out good". An Entity produces two PCs. One takes a second to boot, one takes two minutes to boot. Suckers I mean Customers accept either because they don't know any better, and once booted they both do pretty much the same thing anyway. Entity realizes this, and thinks to itself, "Hey, why are we busting our humps doing good work (1 second boot) when we can do shoddy work (2 minute boot) and sell just as many units at the same price?" That thinking immediately get translated into company policy to spend no effort worrying about boot time, and soon everybody has slow boot times.

    But what can the sucker that *does* want non-slow boot times do? Pretty much nothing. A well-done, higly-publicized, up-to-date "consumer reports style" comparison of boot times of all currently available systems*OSes*configurations (I'm looking at you, Tom's Hardware) could conceivably force enough of a shift in the "fast and slow have equal value" situation to make it worth vendors' time to spend some effort on improving boot times, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

    There is a reason for this "sloppyness": hardware is cheap while developer time is not.

    Unless that developer is waiting for his machine to boot. Then, apparently, said developer's time is without cost.

  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @02:28PM (#25519063) Homepage Journal

    On a modern system, 98 boots up in less than 10 seconds.

    Vista, almost a full minute plus.

    98 can do almost everything Vista can do (If Microsoft even bothered to make the effort,) so what's the difference?

    DRM, HUGE and horribly unoptimized and sloppy code, and last but not least, crap drivers written by third parties.

    The last problem will fix itself as devs get used to the way Vista handles everything. the first and second will not go away anytime soon.

    If computer makers REALLY wanted boot times under 30 seconds, they'd drop Microsoft altogether, because there's no way a default Vista install will take less than 45 seconds.

    MinuetOS, OTOH, with proper tweaking, boots in under 3 seconds (under 5 seconds by default options.) and I've been able to get everything working under it (minus games and MS software, of course.)

    Most of the problem lies with the OS manufacturer. Eliminate that factor and you're set to speedy computing.

  • by GravityStar (1209738) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @03:36PM (#25519619)
    Why is it reasonable for Steam to run at startup by default?

    I don't think that it is reasonable by the way. It is pure laziness on the part of software developers.

    So, as the GP said, stop defending Steam.
  • by sjames (1099) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @07:35PM (#25521693) Homepage

    That'll be nice. I hate waiting for all that crap when booting up servers. But I don't have a big enough stick to make Adaptec and friends do things differently.

    SCSI option ROMs are the worst. Not only do they take FORever, they also often enough manage to conflict with PXE so that you cannot netboot at all. (I have good reasons to netboot a machine w/ SCSI drives).

    Of course, in general, BIOS waste a LOT of time. Coreboot (formerly LinuxBIOS) is inevitably 10 times faster at least.

    20 second boots cannot happen when the BIOS wastes 90 seconds itself.

    Of course, while they're at it, they might consider smarter default configurations. Some BIOS support serial console redirection but default it to disabled. Let's see now, if I don't need it, I can turn it off easily using keyboard and monitor, but if I *DO* need it, how am I supposed to enable it?

    Halting on an error when no keyboard is connected is silly as a default as well, especially now that hot-plugged USB keyboards are supported. Stopping on 'press any key to continue' when netboot fails doesn't make much sense either. Perhaps the boot server just took a minute to come up, why not retry?

    Once they actually THINK about the use cases for the BIOS and fix the silly design decisions, then they should work on speeding it up. Once that is done, they can worry about the OS (or just quit loading so much crapware).

  • Re:So... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by setagllib (753300) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @08:49PM (#25522151)

    Great idea! We shall call it "hibernation"!

Do you suffer painful illumination? -- Isaac Newton, "Optics"

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