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Thursday, 30 April 2009 11:01

Ubuntu 9.04 Boot Times

Charles Dickens wrote that "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times". I have a feeling that he wasn’t referring to computer operating system boot times, but that's what I’m going to discuss today. More specifically Ubuntu 9.04's boot times.

Usually as operating systems develop, their boot times blow out. I remember being disappointed with Windows XP Service Pack 2 as it increased the boot time for my machine quite markedly. But what of Ubuntu 9.04 "Jaunty Jackalope" boot times? Does Ubuntu suffer from this syndrome too, slowing down as it matures (like this author!)?

Recently released and now widely available, Ubuntu 9.04, is the latest of Canonical's Ubuntu iterations. I have been running this operating system on my laptop since the Beta release. I encountered a few issues with the Beta, including one bug that prevented me from formatting partitions using Ext4 (Ext3 worked fine), but for the most part it was pretty good. In fact, I stopped using 8.10 in favour of 9.04 Beta.

Last night just before I installed the recently released stable version, out of interest I ran a few tests to see what the differences were in boot times from 8.10 and 9.04 Beta. I then installed 9.04 stable and compared these results. These tests were far from scientific, being me sitting there with stopwatch, and should be taken as indicative rather than completely factual. However, the results are actually very interesting.

Firstly a few words about the "test environment". I have a two and a half year old laptop, that even when I bought it was old technology and not that highly specced.
Processor: Intel Celeron M 420 @ 1.6GHz
Video: ATI Radeon xPress 200M

You get the idea - it's old and slow. I have the HDD partitioned up so that I run three operating systems: Windows XP, the latest stable version of Ubuntu and the latest development/testing version of Ubuntu. Originally I had WinXP, Ubuntu 8.10 and 9.04 Beta. The first test involved the old "latest stable" being 8.10. I then overwrote 8.10 with 9.04 stable and retested.

Boot time comparison:
8.10 with Ext3 file system
To login screen: 47.4 sec
To desktop: +36.3 sec
Total: 1 minute 22.7 sec

9.04 Beta with Ext3 file system
To login: 33 sec
To desktop: +35 sec
Total: 1 minute 8 sec

9.04 with Ext4 file system
To login: 27.2 sec
To desktop: +26.4 sec
Total: 53.6 sec

Now I could do all sorts of comparisons and percentages and waffle on about it, but it wasn't a scientific test so there's no point. What I want to say is this: Oh wow! It's fast, really, fast.

Using Ext4 (which worked just fine in the stable release), everything is just faster. Firefox is really responsive, not just with starting up but displaying pages feels quicker too. Applications seem to start quicker and installing updates and applications feels faster too.

Canonical must have been feeding Ubuntu vitamins or caffeine pills, as it is not slowing down with age, but getting more sprightly!

Installation was easier than ever, and again fast. I had the system completely installed and configured the way I like it in less than 45 minutes. Back around Ubuntu 7.10, I used to allow about 2 hours for installation and configuration. And I allow about 4 hours for a Windows XP install and configure (with the slowest aspect being the download and installation of Service Packs and updates). I guess it helps that my ISP hosts a local Ubuntu mirror so all of the updates and applications are being downloaded from there at about 1.8MB/sec (I have ADSL2+), rather than the XP updates from Microsoft which download at about 150-200kB/sec.

Also admittedly, I am a little more proficient at installing applications these days, and so I know that to get most of the apps that I like to use I just do this:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install filezilla deluge grsync unetbootin netspeed dontzap gparted vlc gufw ubuntu-restricted-extras

That takes care of most of them and then I manually download JungleDisk, Dropbox, Ubuntu Tweak, Skype and Google Earth (although now I know how to add their repositories and let apt-get handle them).

There's a bit of configuration for each of the applications (most of which is for Firefox which I add the following extensions: Adblock Plus, Xmarks, Fission, Internode Monthly Usage Monitor and Google Gears), but I often save the relevant files (such as accounts.xml for the Pidgin IM client) and copy them across.

But seriously, 45 minutes for a brand new operating system configured just the way I like it - pretty amazing! Look for the next article when I time how long it takes to install and configure on an Eee PC 901.

My impressions of Ubuntu 9.04 "Jaunty Jackalope" are very positive. I am enjoying it immensely!

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