Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tracking (my) Ubuntu boot speed.

Measuring ones boot speed may just be another benchmark, but for mobile users it is particularly useful to have a fast boot for a truly mobile experience. When one turns on a cell phone or a portable music player, we expect it to be up and running within 5 seconds before we get frustrated. Computers running a “full OS” like Ubuntu, Windows, or Mac, have never come close to the 5 second mark. The only way they have come close is by putting the computers in hibernation or standby which drains the battery.

DISCLAIMER: The results shown below represents my personal experience and do not speak for all Ubuntu users. Based on your hardware, system setup, and benchmarking method, your experience may differ from mine. Please note that your mileage may vary. For those people coming to this post from a non Ubuntu OS, welcome and thank you for your interest. Now without further delay, here are the results with additional commentary below (Click the chart for a larger version):

Results for Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex:
There was no announced goal for boot time in this release. I used a stopwatch on several occasions to record my time. On my hardware, Ubuntu 8.10 was the slowest booting version I had ever used with times often reaching two minutes.

Boot Speed in Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope:
Beginning in the Ubuntu 9.04 development cycle, Ubuntu had declared a war against slow boot times. The official goal was to decrease boot times to 25 seconds.
I tracked my boot speed by installing a program called bootchart and saved my best time of 70 seconds. A far cry from the 25 second goal, but a significant improvement over the previous release.

Boot Speed in Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala:
Despite the official claim that boot time had decreased to less than 25 seconds, 9.10 did not improve boot speed over 9.04. I was getting boot times in the 100 second range for 9.10 Karmic compared to 75 seconds for 9.04 Jaunty. After using 9.10 for just 3 months, boot time had got even longer to just under the two minute mark. At this point I got frustrated and decided to join the 10.04 development cycle to track boot progress more seriously...

Measuring Boot Speed in Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx (development release):
While not yet released, a 10 second boot is the goal for this version and we will see if this comes true. I joined the 10.04 at alpha 2 beginning in January 2010. Since then, I would reboot at least 2 times a day and record the average times. On some occasions, rather nasty bugs were introduced which forced me to reboot many times leading to some really strange boot readings. On those occasions, I trashed the best and worst times before recording the average (Winter Olympics style). My time for January averaged 65 seconds which is already the best I have ever seen on my computer. In February my times got even better and I averaged 45 seconds. The results for March were even better at 39 seconds.

Final Thoughts:
Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx is shaping up to be a fast booting OS. While I'm not certain that I will hit the 10 second target, I am quite confidant that my average will drop to 25 seconds for April. Ubuntu 10.04 officially comes out in 21 days and I will most likely have a follow up post (and possibly a full review) to my results here.