Booting Linux in 5 seconds

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Two Dutch Linux developers working for Intel in Santa Clara, USA, demonstrated a fast-starting version of Linux at the Linux Plumbers Conference in Oregon (also USA) last September. Arjan van de Ven, developer at Intel’s Open Source Technology Center and author of PowerTOP, and Auke Kok, an OSTC colleague, built their FastBoot system by moving important modules into the kernel (less overhead), and by scrapping less important modules altogether. The latter are ran when necessary. For example, the printing sub-system is only loaded when the user first tries to print something.

Arjan van de Ven told Webwereld that he had started the FastBook-project because he was irritated with the time his recently bought and very fast laptop needed to boot.

“We used a method that was entirely different from what everybody else had been trying before us.” Instead of shaving off a second here or there, the two developers set themselves a firm goal: five seconds, and no cheating. For them that meant the CPU and disk had to be idle after those first five seconds, and not continue loading stuff in the background while the system pretended to be done.

The FastBoot developers think an even faster boot sequence is possible. “We should be able to achieve only 4 seconds on a netbook with Atom and a ‘slow’ SSD. We already managed 3 seconds on a Core 2 laptop with a fast SSD, and we think we should be able to boot such a fast machine in perhaps 2 seconds,” Van de Ven continues.

Van de Ven figures Microsoft are working on similar technology for its own operating system, Windows, but also thinks his competitors have a unique set of challenges: “It’s harder for them to get things working, because they have a lot of legacy code. But that’s not a fundamental limitation, and they can put a lot of people on such a project.”

See also Booting Linux in five seconds at LWN.net. Photo of an Asus EEE by Chris Birchill, some rights reserved.

1 Comment »

  1. Major nerd posting :)

    Comment by Orangemaster — November 22, 2008 @ 10:57 pm

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