Boot time matters, especially when it comes to laptops and netbooks. Today, when you pull a netbook out of your bag and hit the power button, it can take anywhere from 25 seconds to 2 minutes to load a working Windows or Linux desktop. In the not too distant future, that figure could be as low as 5 seconds.

Two Intel engineers recently demonstrated an Eee PC with modified software that could boot a full operating system in a matter of seconds. They first showed that you could boot a version of Fedora Linux and then a version of Moblin, both tweaked for 5 second boot times.

Because the demo used an Eee PC with a solid state disk, the engineers say that boot times will be slower on a system with a hard drive. And while the network manager loads in the first 5 seconds, it might take a bit longer to actually connect to a netowkr. But the demonstration is still pretty impressive, especially at a time when other software developers are working on SplashTop and ExpressGate style systems that let you load a stripped down Linux-based OS in just a few seconds.

The difference between the 5-second boot and SplashTop is that SplashTop is designed to be used in partnership with a full desktop operating system. You can launch SplashTop any time you just want to use a web browser, Skype, or image browser without waiting for the PC to fully load. The Intel demo shows that it’s possible to load a full desktop in the same amount of time, which could potentially make SplashTop obsolete before it’s even been widely adopted.

It’s not like you can get a 5-second boot time without making some compromises. But most of the items the Intel engineers trimmed are things nobody will miss. For example, a typical Fedora bootup spends 2 minutes on setting up a mailserver. Ubuntu normally spends 2.5 seconds adding drivers for restricted-license devices, even if you’re running it on a computer that doesn’t need those drivers.

via SlashGear

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5 replies on “5-second boot coming to netbooks?”

  1. fwiw I cannot recall ever seeing a linux computer boot in 2 minutes.
    A windows computer doing that isnt surprising, but I’d be interested to know what linux computer and how it was configured took 2 minutes to boot.

  2. Please donate your old boxes to a church-group or some needy student in these hard times! To comply with the law, and with Microsoft’s leasing policy, you can now replace Microsoft OS with the free (download from the net) Ubuntu OS, which can be set to erase the hard drive of all traces of the “illegal to give away ” Microsoft system and your private information, before donation! Now, explain to your lucky recipient that all the manuals they will ever need are available for free on the internet! Just ask for them in Google! OpenOffice, which is installed already is plenty adequate for homework assignments and with a little exploring, everything else can work well too! Happy computing!

  3. I sometimes wonder why cold boot times really matter. Surely more work on improving hibernation/suspend-to-disk solutions would be an easier way of providing a near instant-on capability.

    I have heard of quite a few people who experience issues resuming from hibernation, but I am one of the lucky ones for whom it works perfectly. I can boot to a Windows XP desktop in around 10 seconds with the added bonus that any work and applications I had open will also be restored without prolonging the boot time.

    Since most netbooks are going to be stand-alone, portable devices – not anchored to a desk connected to all manner of peripherals – it should be easier to ensure that all of the hardware in use functions properly across a suspend/resume operation.

  4. Honestly, I understood little of what was said about kernel and how it worked but that is simply great news. Now to wait another 2-3 years for it to hit the market, right?

    Until then, if you need a new motherboard for your desktop, I recommend you give ASUS a shot. All their motherboards come with the embedded Linux known as Splashtop.
    When my mobo fried, I got one of those and honestly my wife STILL hasnt booted into the main OS. All she needs is Firefox, Skype and IM.

    I also get the feeling since this was a Linux conference that this will not translate to the Windows side so people will need Splashtop for some time. When we started the WinXP (i reformat or get a new HD every year), we usually just walked out of the room and came back later once the machine started and all the updates were done on anti-virus and other malware programs.

    I have to wonder why the Splashtop which came out 1 YEAR AGO has gotten so little press. Slow boot times are a universal problems that we’ve dealt forever. No matter how fast your new machine is, the newer windows and programs always add to the slow Windows boot time. Why hasnt it gotten traction in the press then? Because its not Apple? ASUS makes millions of mobos every month so it seems to me that its note easy to avoid.

    If Splashtop is replaced by the real 5 second boot, I might have to finally make the jump to Linux (or at least dual boot like my bro in law). We use the Acer One so its not like its rocket science as much as fear of the unfamiiar which is the same when you switch to any new OS.
    But I cant say enough good things about the Splashtop option on our ASUS board because its really practical. And since the tech media is still deathly afraid of Linux, I think its going to be around on Windows machines for some time (its better not to mention that Splashtop is embedded Linux so as not to spook people).
    Unless you believe that Microsoft will rush their latest OS in twice less time they did Vista and somehow get a better result the next time around.

    Hurray for the 5 second boot. Hurray for Splashtop (and others like it).
    It seems innovation is very healthy in the free software world.
    I’m still stunned that it took this long for anything to be done.

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