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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 @02:12AM (#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.
    • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Z00L00K (682162) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @02:20AM (#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.

      • 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.

        If it took long enough for you to notice then something must have been wrong.

        • by TheLink (130905) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @05:10AM (#25516143) Journal
          "If it took long enough for you to notice then something must have been wrong"

          Actually that is one of the reasons why things are still slow in general - because though CPUs and hardware get faster and faster, we're still living in a human world. So the "human notice" times remain important.

          Lots of programmers have their programs wait for one second if they have to wait a minimum time for hardware or for other reasons, after all most seem to think "it's only one second".

          A few 1 seconds here and it all adds up.

          Silly? Maybe in many cases, BUT often you really do have to wait in seconds because it says "press ctrl-A for SCSI controller config" and so if the computer does not wait _seconds_ for the human and only waits _milliseconds_, the human is also going to be pissed off.

          For a similar reason a windows PC can't boot faster than the X seconds for you to press F8 to enter "Safe Mode". Well it can, but it'll have to be "hold F8 down while booting", and that means some changes in the keyboard hardware and config stuff, some user education etc etc.

          Also often the threshold for determining that something has gone wrong is more _human_ related. Say a hard drive has gone slightly flaky and takes a bit longer to spin up for whatever reason.

          How long will a human wait for a harddrive to spin up? Pretty long in many cases. Even if it takes 30 seconds, they might still wait.

          The BIOS could just assume it's dead, after all it's not behaving like a _normal_ hard drive. But the specs for _failure_ are often human related - they are determined by how long it is expected that a human will wait.

          It's just like network connectivity timeouts are in the order of tens of seconds. Instead of say minutes. A tree might be willing to wait minutes or even days, but most humans don't want to wait minutes.

          They're not in the order of milliseconds because the speed of light is too slow (light takes more than a few milliseconds to cross the world) and people are willing to wait seconds.
          • by xaxa (988988) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @08:04AM (#25516901)

            On RISC OS [wikipedia.org] to reset many of the BIOS settings (the ones normal fiddling is likely to screw up) you held down R as you switched the machine on, to fully reset the BIOS (to the point that you had to tell the machine it had a floppy disk drive again) you held down Delete. It started up to the GUI, ready to use, in about 10 seconds. Wikipedia says the record is 2 seconds.

            A 1999 RISC OS [everything2.com] machine would go from power-on to a running web browser in 16 seconds.

            Likewise, my phone manages to start up in less than 10 seconds, with another 5 or so if I try and immediately load the web browser.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by TheLink (130905)
              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
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by shess (31691)

                I usually config things in the fastest boot mode, but when I need to make changes (and thus watch boot screens and stuff), I temporarily config to a slower mode. So instead of an uber-menu, you would just have to work your way through each BIOS saying "Set slow boot, reboot" until you got to the one indicated.

                Annoying, but, what, how much time do you spend in the BIOS compared to using the machine?

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by sjames (1099)

                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 r

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by afidel (530433)
                Actually they already have, it's called EFI and like OpenFirmware it allows you to use a single keycode to get into a shell environment where you can program device settings in a standardized way. I'm not sure if the spec calls for the elimination of other keycode entry methods but I would think that eventually the others would die out since they are an unnecessaru expense to code.
        • Re:So... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by electrictroy (912290) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @09:19AM (#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.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Dare nMc (468959)

            Shutdown time is no big deal because

            well, for my laptop their equally important. IE, can I check my email between flights, and how much of my precious battery power is gone (or if I used up all my battery on the last movie, will their be enough residual juice to book that hotel change without a hard crash.)
            Granted just drop a extra few hundred on a smart phone+ addtl $30 monthly service plan, or fly business/first class = a slow power cycle time costing a few hundred more per year.
            Actually a slow shutdo

      • 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 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.

        • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MPAB (1074440) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @05:11AM (#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.

    • My Asus EEEPC with EEE Ubuntu boots in almost no time. I've never used a stop watch, so I don't have any number to spout out, but I've never had a Windows or Mac OS machine boot that quick.

    • Re:So... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Peet42 (904274) <Peet42@Netsca[ ]net ['pe.' in gap]> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @05:15AM (#25516159)

      http://www.pcdecrapifier.com/ [pcdecrapifier.com]

  • by cephalien (529516) <benjaminlungerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @02:12AM (#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.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2008 @02:30AM (#25515529)

      On a K6-II 350, BeOS would go from POST to booted and ready to rock in under 5 seconds. Faster boot times are possible but doing so may require some big changes to how everything works.

      • by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @03:34AM (#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.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Bert64 (520050)

          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

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Come on, BeOS fanboys. Tear back the nostalgia and BeOS was awful. Everything from disk I/O performance, networking, graphics was miserably slow. It was an OS designed to give good demos to get more investment capital. There was no reason to actually /run/ it and then live with it in the real world.

          Pervasive multi-threading is premature optimisation bullshit, built in to the core of the OS. That BeOS fanboys loved this shows how much they're really related to ricers rather than actual users. The strategy in

      • I'm going to have to link to an article I read a few days ago: http://lwn.net/Articles/299483/ [lwn.net]
        In short it's about some Intel hackers makes Fedora boot in 5 secounds on an EEE PC, not exactly the best hardware.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by EvanED (569694)

      ...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 PhantomHarlock (189617) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @03:39AM (#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 Detritus (11846) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @05:26AM (#25516203) Homepage
          The problem is MPEG-2. Even if everything else works instantly, the TV has to wait for a reference frame before it can begin to decode video. With analog, you just wait for the vertical sync pulse (60 per second) and go.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by kasperd (592156)

            the TV has to wait for a reference frame before it can begin to decode video.

            Even that I can imagine being solved if you have sufficient processing power in the TV. How often is a key frame sent? Every five seconds? If the TV would figure out which 10 channels you are most likely to zap to next and store the last five seconds of compressed video for each of them, switching channels would just boil down to how quickly you could decode those five seconds of video.

            Look at what happened with teletext. With e

    • by pchan- (118053)

      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.

      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.

      Your Commodore 64 ran from hard-wired ROM. Its OS (all 10 or so kilobytes of it) is burned into the chips soldered on the motherboard. It is running directly from ROM, it has no real boot sequence. Try loading GEOS o

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by iamacat (583406)

        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 bu

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)
          You've basically just invented suspend-to-disk. Write out the contents of RAM to disk and power down. On power up, read the contents of RAM back from disk and continue. There are a few things you can do to make this go slower but seem faster. One common trick is to only load the kernel memory back then demand-page everything else in (and speculatively load other bits of RAM when the disk is idle).

          Speed is still an issue. A modern hard drive can do sustained reads of about 50MB/s in a straight line, an

    • You know, I think a really big part of that is the fact that the Mac knows, pretty much, what hardware it's going to be driving.  PC's/Linux have to work with a much vaster array of hardware, so it has no choice but to use like, intelligence and stuff, which takes time.
      • by Bert64 (520050) <bert@s[ ]hdot.fi ... m ['las' in gap]> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @05:50AM (#25516283) Homepage

        It's quite easy to recompile linux so it only has support for the hardware you have, it can be made to boot considerably quicker when you do this...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Detritus (11846)
        In the Stone Age, we could "SYSGEN" a new version of the operating system that only had the drivers that were needed for the hardware and already knew all of the I/O addresses, numbers, and types of I/O devices, etc. The boot process was simple and fast. Load an image of the operating system into RAM and go. The problem was that it could take a whole day to do a SYSGEN, and you had to know the exact hardware configuration of the system. Not something that the average end-user would be able to deal with.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

      ``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.''

      The time it takes to start up a computer is mostly determined by the firmware. Once the software has control of the system, you can boot an OS very quickly (Linux in a few seconds). But before the software gets to run, the firmware has control of the system. I've seen compu

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jonaskoelker (922170)

      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 wit

    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      For desktop systems this is bad, but an even worse place to me is servers. Under normal circumstances a long boot time doesn't seem like it should be a big deal, but if it's a server that needs a reboot, often times, every second counts. Also, the times that a server does need to be rebooted, like when developing a new server build image it adds literally hours to the process of finalizing the server build just waiting the 7-10 minutes of POST processes that most server hardware goes through. There shoul

  • Even Microsoft, whose bloated Windows software is often blamed for sluggish start times, has pledged to do its part in the next version of the operating system, saying on a company blog that "a very good system is one that boots in under 15 seconds."

    I'll believe it when I see it.

    There's nothing MS, Asus or anyone else can do to stop individuals (or computer mfgs) from loading up their computers with hard-drive-thrashing amounts of startup software.

    Vista is particularly to blame with their nifty transparent desktop widgets that stretch the time it takes computers to go from off to useable.

    • "Vista is particularly to blame with their nifty transparent desktop widgets that stretch the time it takes computers to go from off to useable."

      And how many users are to blame for not turning Aero off?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Aerynvala (1109505)
        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.
  • ... when they are ready will do a lot to alleviate the boot wait times. Although I'm sure a lot of wait time has to do with the programming of the bios/hardware initialization, not to mention programs optimized for the latency of hard drives. I noticed in previous versions of windows (and I'm certain even xp/vista still) when certain drivers load they can cause delays.

    I've always wondered with the cheapness of ram, how hard/costly could it be after the first boot, and then simply have insta-boot thereafte

    • by inKubus (199753)

      It's called an SSD (solid state disk) [wikipedia.org] and sleep mode. Why even reboot? Unless there's a hardware addition that requires a power down, there's no reason to "reboot". Booting, by it's very nature, is simply the initialization of all the hardware in the system. In VISTA, even, most of this is done upon driver loading and in userland. If you have a ton of kernal initialization, it's going to be slow. And linux comes with a LOT of stuff in the kernel. You need to recompile your kernel with only the hardwa

  • > "...makers like Asus who are trying to take some of the pain of waiting computers, especially laptops, to boot up.

    Take my iBook, for example. I just sleep it, and when I open the lid and hit a key, it wakes up. It can go days before it needs to be recharged. I put it to sleep and bag-stash it before going thru airport security, and if they want to see it work, I just wake it up...bam...done.

    I think more work should be done towards improving sleep-state longevity and run-time rather than towards r
  • Startup Programs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mockidol (1031242) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @02:26AM (#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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by DemonThing (745994)
      Spybot-S&D [safer-networking.org] does come with a program called TeaTimer [safer-networking.org] (yes, another startup program, but it's small) that monitors registry changes including startup entries, popping up a dialog asking whether to allow the change, so if a program decides it wants to run at startup, you can block that right there.
    • by Waccoon (1186667) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @04:43AM (#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 PhantomHarlock (189617) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @02:28AM (#25515509)

    My later Amigas typically had a boot time of 10 seconds. Full blown AmigaOS on an internal HD on the A3000. I miss them dearly.

    We've managed to stav off the usefulness of moore's law by creating the world's worst software to run on them.

    It's not fair to judge modern systems with those older ones however; we ask a lot more of our software and our GUI's than we once did. But there is no excuse in the way that windows configures itself by default, it sets itself up for failure by having a re-sizable swap partition on the main OS partition.

    When I install Windows on a new PC, I always create 3 partitions: An inner partition of 5 - 10 GB for a fixed size swap file only, then an OS partition, then an applications partition, and defrag regularly. I can keep my machines going for many years without much performance degradation in this manner.

    Even if you are scrupulous, bad software and bad uninstall jobs will eventually bloat out your system a little bit.

    A little common sense goes a long way, unfortunately those who do not deal with computers for a living aren't going to know these little tips and tricks, and will continue to be frustrated. OS manufacturers, in particular windows need to set up a default OS install for success, not failure. Software manufacturers need to create very clean installs and uninstall routines. Unfortunately this is not always possible in the OS environment. It's a joint effort.

    The tin-foil hatters will think that M$ is doing this on purpose so people will feel compelled to upgrade more frequently, but I don't really give them that much conniving intelligence.

    --Mike

    • Err, re-sizable swap FILE, sorry. typo.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      "The tin-foil hatters will think that M$ is doing this on purpose so people will feel compelled to upgrade more frequently, but I don't really give them that much conniving intelligence."

      Oh, it gets better... check this out.

      MSDN Magazine, October 2008, page 150, "End Bracket"

      Josh Phillips, a Program Manager on the MS Parallel Computing Platform Team, actually is advocating wasting CPU cycles. As in, if you have multiple sources of data, go ahead and fetch two or three and just use the first one that comes

  • A "very good system is one that boots in under 15 seconds,"

    Wait, what MS system current boots under 15 seconds?

  • Standy on desktop doesn't waste that much electricity (10-15Watt) compared to a power off mode (5Watt). With the newer power supplys, for the past 10 or so years, a powered off computer still consumes power as it needs to keep that power on/off button hot (12v or 5v, not sure). The older power supplies, the power button was a true 110/220V switch. To achieve that now, you have to use the switch in the back where the power supply is..

    • by Xugumad (39311)

      I recently measured a bunch of PCs around my house, actually. Distressingly, my Mac Pro takes 40W when "turned off"!

      Personally, the desktop PC gets turned off at the wall overnight. The server obviously doesn't, but it was designed top to bottom to be power efficient (and idles at around 30-40W). The laptop is my fast-on system.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Slorv (841945)

        >Distressingly, my Mac Pro takes 40W when "turned off"!

        Yeah, since I normally have around 5 computers in my work room I've installed a master power switch. That switch paid for itself in half a year by power savings alone.

  • It's psychological (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jazz-Masta (240659) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @02:41AM (#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.

  • The real problem is mechanical components and violatile ram. In the days of magnetic core a computer could recover from power failure and resume running in few seconds. Disks did take a will to spin up.
  • I mean, with hibernation and standby modes, outside the need to restart for some sort of update--why even shutdown?

    It just all seems pointless to me. I don't find ANY OS's boot times slow enough to start tinkering with ways to make it faster. Even Vista on this laptop was well under a minute. And that's to "usable". XP and Linux are maybe a few seconds faster. Is there really some use for it booting in 20 seconds vs. maybe 30?

    • by iangoldby (552781)

      When your computer is in standby mode it is still using power.

      In a company of hundreds of PCs, this adds up to a considerable, and completely unnecessary, power drain. It costs the company and it puts CO2 into the atmosphere.

      Anyway, I reckon hoping for 15 second boot time shows a real lack of ambition. Why can't we have 1 second boot times?

  • AHCI Firmware (Score:4, Insightful)

    by boa13 (548222) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @02:43AM (#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. :(

  • Please forgive me for typos and incoherent speech, for I am drunk. Now on to power saving modes. I did notice that both at home (with my seven computers) and at my work place that the red herring effect caused by powering computers on and off during business hours is pretty much the same as leaving them on with standby mode etc. To be honest a 15 second boot time is rediculous. I mean my XP laptop boots in about 5-8 seconds...my linux box boots in ~6 seconds. Perhaps my geeky startup enhancments are to blam
  • 3 stages to tackle.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by cheros (223479) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @02:48AM (#25515601)

    Yup, it has always irritated me that the faster my system gets the more I need to wait for it..

    There are IMHO 3 levels to this:

    1) BIOS boot. Why the hell do I need to wait for this? I don't need the advertising, thanks, and a state check is BS if it worked before - flag and repeat. The maximum allowed delay should be to show a 2 sec message "Press F1 to enter BIOS or re-scan" - and even that one should be able to switch off. I recall reading something about an Open Source BIOS having to be slowed down because it was ready before the disks had spun up - yes please!

    2) OS boot. The actual core OS is again something that, once stable, changes very little. Or so goes the theory, with the incredible amount of patching going on in Windows there is indeed a need for re-scan. But that again is something you do once, then skip the proooooooooooooooooobing for something that *may* be there but doesn't respond in teh half century timeout that it has been given. I can recall something called TurboDOS for the Apple ][ that was a good 3x faster, mainly because someone had brought the timeouts back to something sane.. 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. That's at least something I find less of an issue with Linux. However, these days there is an awful lot of crap that has to be loaded for no apparent reason - maybe time to lift the covers and go back to basics?

    On the Linux front an observation aside: once upon a time, Linux booted in seconds even when the then Worries for Workgroups was already starting to get obese. This speed advantage no longer exists other than that a ready desktop really IS ready :-(

    3) App level boot. Once the OS is live, all these other gadgets become alive. There is a whole raft of things that sit and watch for events these days, and most of it does so surreptitiously. Picasa shows a logo and tells you it's watching for events, but the iTunes crap hides, ditto for the Apple update. Once upon a time you could look in Windows "startup" and look at what actually loaded, but that was obviously too visible and useful and could -oh shudder- allow the customer to kill off the things they didn't want. These days, only Logitech and OpenOffice do it as intended, the rest all sits under the radar - motives?

    ANY program setting up some form of monitoring should be visible, and offer the advanced user a way to kill it off. I want iTunes only to play music, and I will start it up myself hen I need it to sync - that is a choice I should be able to make. Sure, make it idiot proof but for God's sake leave an option for the non-idiots to control it (and bloody stop trying to shove Safai down my throat with every down, sorry, 'up'grade). And I don't recall ever giving permission for the Apple Update program so where did that come from? I think that is in principle a breach of computing laws to install software without authorisation..

    There are so many apps that start up a background process for updates that it's a miracle there's bandwidth left for getting any work done, and starting an app starts off some more. Apple iTunes, Firefox -and each extension thereof-, Thunderbird -ditto-) - the moment you start them the hunt for updates begins. "Stable" has been replaced by "perpertual beta" - and we know who started that (yes Redmond, it's you). I can recall where especially an OS patch was A Big Deal. The fact that someone does this monthly (and now doesn't) should not blind you to the fact that it once was an exceptional event rather than rule.

    And then there is the way network events are treated: synchronous. Start Outlook and watch the system die while it waits for some sign of life from the server (and then continues this throughout the day). Watch a DNS lookup freeze a system because the netwo

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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_

    • "there is something deeply wrong when text editing on a 3.6 ghz processor is anything but instantaneous." --John Carmack

  • by mlts (1038732) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @02:56AM (#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.

  • Boot times of 5 minutes wouldn't really bother me all that much - I reboot *maybe* once a month, other than that my computer is either on or suspended (and it only takes two seconds to return to life from suspend). The easy solution is make sure that Windows defaults to suspend/hibernate rather than shut down, since the normal user generally sticks with the default settings.

    The things that matter to me are:
    Cheaper hardware
    More efficient software
    Major technology improvements

    I'm not at all an environmentalis

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iangoldby (552781)

      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 ChameleonDave (1041178) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @03:35AM (#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 hey (83763)

      I hate having to wait for the confirm shutdown dialog. Gnome displays the dialog but it defaults to doing the shutdown in 60 seconds so you can walk away. Nice.

  • 286 + DOS (Score:2, Funny)

    by Circlotron (764156)
    My 10 MHz '286 running DOS 3.3 used to go from power to prompt in 11 seconds. Humans wake up. Old radios warm up. Computers boot up.
  • Useless and a waste of development. Just put the computer to sleep, and it boots in 2 seconds. Why bother wasting time on this?

  • my 5 second startup (Score:4, Interesting)

    by theheadlessrabbit (1022587) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @04:19AM (#25515911) Homepage Journal

    I got sick of these outrageous boot times a long time ago.
    here is how i fixed it:

    I have an old IBM PS/1 that i picked up in the early 90's. (for the kids: 386 processor, 2 megs of RAM)

    When I turn it on, the system is usable in about 5-10 seconds.
    I can have a word processor open AND be typing away happily within 15 seconds of hitting that button.

    now it takes me a minute to load my OS, and another 20 seconds before my word processor is usable

    what the hell happened?

  • 8 bit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @04:56AM (#25516083) Journal

    My Sinclair ZX Spectrum is ready in less than 2 seconds. Now I have made an ethernet card for it, I can be on IRC within 5 seconds of power up!

  • by jholster (1155609) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @05:41AM (#25516243)
    Why doesn't every company / office apply a policy, that every desktop computer is configured to hibernate itself after e.g. one our of idling? Startup time will become meaningless and evergy savings would be huge (compared to 24/7 workstation uptimes). Personally I've never understood this boot time debate. I never shutdown my Macbook, which will wake from sleep in a second. AFAIK modern desktops are able to sleep/hibernate as well, maybe excluding some poor 3D drivers on Linux which cannot recover from sleep state. In the name of energy saving, every computer sold should be configured by default to sleep/hibernate after unused period of time, like every Mac does (don't they?).
  • by Lord Byron II (671689) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @07:55AM (#25516849)

    Why does it take the Wii a good 30 seconds to start playing a game from the time you push the power button? (I'm including in here the time it takes to acknowledge the safety warning and click through the Wii menu.) I'm sure that the 360 and PS3 are just as bad.

    And (probably unique to the Wii), why do I have to see one or two more safety warnings every time the game loads?

    And (definitely not unique to the Wii), why do I have to watch multiple studio logos before I even get to the start screen. The record that I found, was one game that had EIGHT studio ads!!

    But, how about DVD players. My player takes somewhere in the 20 second range to load a disc and then I have usually a few (usually) skippable ads followed by 10-15 seconds of unskippable menu animations.

    I'm still holding out on Blu-Ray because one recent review of a new Sony player was talking about how fast it was - 1 minute to start up - 1 minute to load the disc. That's two full minutes before even the ads start to play!

    I kinda miss the 80's, when you stuck your VHS tape in and the movie started right away. Any ads? Then just rewind back only to the start of the movie and you'll never see them again. You took Super Mario Bros and put it in your Nintendo. In under five seconds, you're asked if you wanted to play with one or two people. After you make that choice, within a second you're playing the game.

  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @08:34AM (#25517041) Homepage Journal

    Win98SE FTW!

  • Lets go back to ROM (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:37PM (#25518629)
    If we used ROM to hold the OS, it could boot in seconds and would be much more resistant to viruses. The cost for memory is low enough that it should be relatively cheap to design some sort of OS EEPROM, and have a slot for it to fit into the motherboard of the computer. OF course, then we would have to deal with writing OS's that are designed to run in memory.
  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @01:28PM (#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.

  • 5 Seconds. No more (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MACC (21597) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @02:55PM (#25519805)

    "It's not about booting faster, it's about booting in 5 seconds."
    http://lwn.net/Articles/299088/ [lwn.net]
    http://lwn.net/Articles/299546/ [lwn.net]

    or a bit more involved:
    TCCBOOT compiles and boots a Linux kernel in 15 seconds
    http://lwn.net/Articles/108341/ [lwn.net]

  • by AndyCanfield (700565) <<moc.xednay> <ta> <dleifnacydna>> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @11:24PM (#25523449) Homepage
    In about 1985 I was able to reboot my MS-DOS computer in eight seconds. My TSR ran at the end of AUTOEXEC.BAT and stored an image of all lower memeory into an L.I.M. RAM card bank. Press Ctrl+Alt+Ins and the TSR would reload lower memory from the RAM bank. Eight seconds to reboot.

    Linux suggestion: save ASCII config file timestamps and corresponding kernel structures. If the ASCII config file is unchanged, then reload the internal structure without any recomputation.

Nobody's gonna believe that computers are intelligent until they start coming in late and lying about it.

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