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Why Do Computers Take So Long to Boot Up? 975

Posted by Zonk
from the tired-hampsters dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Computers take too long to boot up, and it doesn't make sense to me. Mine takes around 30 seconds; it is double or triple that for some of my friends' computers that I have used. Why can't a computer turn on and off in an instant just like a TV? 99% of boots, my computer is doing the exact same thing. Then I get to Windows XP with maybe 50 to 75 megs of stuff in memory. My computer should be smart enough to just load that junk into memory and go with it. You could put this data right at the very start of the hard drive. Whenever you do something with the computer that actually changes what happens during boot, it could go through the real booting process and save the results. Doing this would also give you instant restarts. You just hit your restart button, the computer reloads the memory image, and you can be working again. Or am I wrong? Why haven't companies made it a priority to have 'instant on' desktops and laptops?"
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Why Do Computers Take So Long to Boot Up?

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  • hum (Score:4, Informative)

    by bedonnant (958404) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @09:49PM (#17189088)
    hibernation?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      How about being a little more patient? 30 seconds is not that long. It takes food in my microwave longer to heat up.

      If your only concerned about fast startups, why don't you just install Windows ME. It will take less then 15 seconds to start up, your friends will be amazed, plus an added bonus of bluescreens ever 30 seconds.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Hibernation as currently implemented in Windows is too unreliable to take seriously. I always get "Insufficient resources to complete the API".
      • Re:hum (Score:5, Informative)

        by electrofreak (744993) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:32PM (#17189538)
        That can happen when you have more than 1GB of RAM. That happened when I upgraded to 2GB of RAM in my system. I did a quick Google search, and found that there is actually a Microsoft released hotfix [codinghorror.com] for the problem.
      • Re:hum (Score:4, Informative)

        by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:52PM (#17190246) Homepage Journal
        Not saying you're wrong or anything, but I've rarely had problems with it. You need to have at least as much free HDD space as you have RAM so it can write the image, but beyond that it's been pretty stable, at least for me, and I run tons of apps.

        There is one issue I had at one point which is that my nVidia video drivers would BSOD on resuming, but updating them fixed that and I'm pretty sure they've fixed it completely in their newer cards.
    • Re:hum (Score:5, Insightful)

      by grolschie (610666) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:30PM (#17189520)
      Hibernation is still not "instant-on" by a long shot. My P4 laptop still takes almost 3/4 as much time to resume from hibernation as it does to boot.
      • Re:hum (Score:5, Insightful)

        by silverkniveshotmail. (713965) <everettpf3@ g m a i l.com> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:44PM (#17189674) Journal
        Hibernation is still not "instant-on" by a long shot. My P4 laptop still takes almost 3/4 as much time to resume from hibernation as it does to boot.
        Mine takes about the same amount of time to boot to the welcome screen as it does to come back from hibernation, but after hibernation i log in instantly, while it takes me about 45 seconds to fully load my desktop (dual-core 2.8ghz 2GB ram, windows xp sp2)
        • It should not take that long for your desktop to work. Download the Startup Control Panel [mlin.net] applet and disable everything that's attempting to boot. This tool is really nice as it has a tab for every way for a program to autostart itself.

          I use then when writing auto-install scripts. For each app that tries to autostart (which is absolutley unnacceptable for any application to do) I find out how that particular one does it and disable it after the install/upgrade.
      • Re:hum (Score:4, Insightful)

        by megaditto (982598) on Monday December 11, 2006 @12:54AM (#17190696)
        Get a faster hard drive (if you are willing to pay the premium).

        I saw a WinXP laptop with a a 10k RPM drive resume from hybernation in what looked like 5 seconds.
      • Re:hum (Score:4, Funny)

        by Fred_A (10934) <fred@@@fredshome...org> on Monday December 11, 2006 @05:25AM (#17192150) Homepage
        Hibernation is still not "instant-on" by a long shot. My P4 laptop still takes almost 3/4 as much time to resume from hibernation as it does to boot.
        You've got to be kidding, on my machine, I press the button on the TV thing and presto, I'm right where I was before I turned it off. And it just takes a couple seconds.
        And it never crashes either. Those computer things are like magic.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        My MacBook wakes up in one or two seconds. Booyah!

        But the problem of long start-up time is coming to your livingroom, too. Those LCD panels are much slower than traditional big box TVs.
    • Re:hum (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nutty_Irishman (729030) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:31PM (#17189530)
      Hibernation doesn't save any time when it comes back up to rebooting, it's more of a convenience when you need to shut down and don't feel like closing all your apps. You might get the 10 seconds off your reboot when it comes back up, but you're probably looking at several minutes of extra paging time once you get back to using your apps. I once made the mistake of hibernating my machine when it had Photoshop, Matlab, Visual studio, and 5-6 firefox windows open. I spent an additional 5 minutes just trying to close all those apps so I could restart the machine to get my performance back.

      The only time I hibernate now is when my carpool is leaving and I need to shut down my laptop quick and don't have time to shut down everything. Standby isn't bad, but any savings that hibernate gives you are short lived.
      • My Thinkpad is running Windows XP Pro. I normally have it set to sleep if I close the lid, and hibernate if it's been sleeping for more than 3 hours. Sleep uses a bit of power, but it wakes up very quickly, normally just a few seconds. Hibernate takes longer, and is less reliable - maybe 10-20% of the time it fails to start correctly (e.g. keyboard drivers don't wake up or other random weirdness that forces me to reboot), and I find that if it's been hibernating, I should be sure to give it time to wake
        • by remmelt (837671) on Monday December 11, 2006 @04:45AM (#17191968) Homepage
          >The other issue I have is that I normally use a VPN to connect to work, and the VPN tunnel doesn't like getting shut down and restarted, especially with a different IP address, so I still have to re-authenticate by typing in my security token code to the VPN client.

          Isn't that what's supposed to happen? You've left your computer for a while, especially a portable one, it better disconnect any secure resources it has. It's comfort over security as usual, but I think this is by design.
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:14PM (#17189922)
      Boot time is generally all PnP detection etc.

      Linux on an embedded system configured for fast booting(without plug and play peripherals etc) can boot in 2 seconds or so.

      • Not all true... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by thrill12 (711899)
        ...it depends on how you have built up your embedded system - if it uses slowly accessible flash (chances are high - because cost is low) 2 seconds is pretty much unreachable. The best you can get is probably 10-15 seconds, but without special (hardware/software) changes your kernel will definitely not boot in 2 seconds.
    • Re:hum (Score:5, Informative)

      by RobertM1968 (951074) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:29PM (#17190050) Homepage Journal
      I dont think that hibernation answers the question that the poster was asking. Hibernation is a great way to resume a session. But how about resuming from a "just booted, nothing loaded" scenario? For some reason, and maybe it is because Microsoft is revising the definition of "booting", people seem to equate resuming from hibernation or sleep or deep sleep modes booting. It is not. It is resuming from... It is amazing though, that MS now is bragging about how fast Vista "boots" when all it is really doing is resuming from some sort of sleep, suspend or hibernation mode. The poster brings up a good point. Actual booting could be sped up by having a booted image saved - similar to a hibernation file, that the machine uses to boot from instead of actually going through the boot process of loading everything.
  • by JonathanR (852748) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @09:50PM (#17189094)
    It is because until now, you haven't submitted your question to Slashdot.
  • boot time (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @09:51PM (#17189108) Homepage
    I think a large portion of the delay is initializing and setting states for all the hardware. Reducing the kernel and libraries to an image might speed things up, but not by much. It'd be about as fast as starting up from hibernation mode.

    If you want a quick start, just use sleep mode. Takes very little power and you're up in seconds.
    • Re:boot time (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Megahurts (215296) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:20PM (#17189960)
      >I think a large portion of the delay is initializing and setting states for all
      >the hardware. Reducing the kernel and libraries to an image might speed things
      >up, but not by much

      I completely disagree. It takes very little time to initialize hardware and a whole lot of time to load software. For instance, when I just installed xp64 after my last upgrade, the system would be up and running in about 20 seconds. Now that I've been running the machine for 6 or 7 months and have been through a few cycles of installing, removing, and upgrading various pieces of software (with notable differences made upon the installation of adobe and microsoft productivity apps), it takes closer to 40-50 seconds to boot. And that's with absolutely no change in the hardware configuration.

  • fast booting TVs ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HughsOnFirst (174255) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @09:52PM (#17189112)
    "Why can't a computer turn on and off in an instant just like a TV?"

    My new HDTV takes about a minute to boot. Something about an ATI bios
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dattaway (3088)
      "Why can't a computer turn on and off in an instant just like a TV?"

      Embedded computers [embeddedarm.com] may be what you are looking for.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 10, 2006 @09:54PM (#17189126)
    I triple boot NetBSD, FreeBSD and x86 Solaris on my old desktop with an Athlon XP processor, and 512 MB of RAM. I don't recall off-hand the exact processor speed.

    Regardless, NetBSD is the fasted of the three. It takes a little over 6 seconds from power-on to the login screen. FreeBSD takes 11 seconds. Solaris is a bit longer, clocking in a 14 seconds. I know these times because I was curious of this question as well, and so I did the timings. All three systems are basically the default installs, plus whatever initialization file changes there have been from installing various pieces of software.

    Solaris does start into X, so that may be why it takes longer. Still, adding the 2 or so seconds it starts to get X running, NetBSD and FreeBSD are still less than Solaris.

  • by DreadSpoon (653424) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @09:54PM (#17189134) Journal
    There are two reasons why your suggestion won't work.

    First, let's say that you upgrade some hardware. There will be no way for the OS to know that there's new hardware unless it goes through the hardware detection and configuration stages of bootup, which is what takes most of the time. Worse, if it doesn't do this, the system will probably just crash, as the memory image loaded will have the wrong set of drivers installed and they'll be pointing at the wrong set of hardware addresses.

    Second, and this is more of a recent issue, there is a lot of work that's going into randomizing memory addresses to increase security. In the event of a security hole, randomized memory addresses make it far more difficult to take control of the machine as a hacker, virus, or worm can't use a hard-coded memory address during the attack. With a pre-built boot-up image, the memory addresses will not be randomized, which defeats a lot of the gain of this security benefit.

    That said, you could just use hibernation on your computer. That is essentially the same thing as what you're asking for. A desktop is just as capable of sleeping or hibernating as a laptop is. The only thing is, if you want to make any hardware changes, you must remember to turn on the machine and do a complete shutdown first.

    Also, there are companies who are focusing on bootup speed. In fact, every major Linux distro has been focusing on it for the last year or two. It's unfortunately just not that easy to speed things up without sacrificing stability or functionality.
  • STR (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SmartSsa (19152) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @09:54PM (#17189138) Homepage Journal
    Suspend To Ram.

    If you need to reboot, you're rebooting for a reason - likely because something in that "50 to 75 MB" has changed.

    Of course, if your box doesn't support suspending to ram, then hibernation is an ok alternative. But sometimes hibernate can be just as slow, if not slower than rebooting.

    end of line.
  • by maird (699535) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @09:58PM (#17189172) Homepage
    I've spent a lot of time using Windows in virtual machines. For VM platforms that provide on-demand block allocation for virtual disks you can see a typical Windows boot do wild things like write to 250MB worth of blocks that were previously unused (i.e. the virtual disk grows by 250MB). NB: I'm talking about an ordinary boot, not one following installation of anything. It gets harder to see as virtual disk occupancy increases but it's an eye opener.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bitsy Boffin (110334)
      write to 250MB worth of blocks that were previously unused

      Pagefile initialization is my guess.
  • Valid point (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mostly a lurker (634878) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @09:59PM (#17189184)
    it could go through the real booting process and save the results. Doing this would also give you instant restarts.
    Interestingly enough, on IBM mainframes 30 years ago, booting OS/VS1 under VM/370 took over five minutes. VM, however, had a SAVESYS command that allowed the state of a virtual machine to be saved and later loaded at any time. We were able to freeze OS/VS1 close to the end of the boot process and save it. The same can, of course, be done with VMware today. I see no technical reason why an operating system should not be able to do this semi automatically for native booting.

    Some will say hibernation gives the same facility, but (at least with Windows) a clean boot needs to be done fairly often (when using a Windows development box, I reboot it daily).

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Doctor Memory (6336)

      on IBM mainframes 30 years ago, booting OS/VS1 under VM/370 took over five minutes

      ISTR that booting V7 UNIX on a PDP-11 took several minutes as well (a large part of that being the RL02 spin-up). However, the same system running under SIMH boots in roughly a second...

      Too bad we can't we have an emulator that emulates your actual machine. It'd report all your (virtual) devices as ready, so at least the initial boot would go quickly. I know some work's being done with cacheing startup files too, but it seems to break down fairly quickly in practice -- you aren't just reading, you're wr

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:01PM (#17189208) Homepage
    Indeed.

    In the beginning, say from Edison's development of the electric lighting system, through the invention of the fractional-horsepower motor which enabled the development of home appliances such as vacuum cleaners and washing machines, most things started up in a fraction of a second.

    Then came vacuum-tube-based electronics, which took a minute or two to warm up.

    Then came the "solid state" revolution, and, once again, things started up instantly. WIth the exception of television sets, which had a vacuum-tube-based "picture tubes" in them. However, manufacturers soon developed circuits that kept a small amount of current flowing to keep the filament partially warm while the set was "off," producing "instant-on" televisions.

    Early hobbyist computers were instant-on, too. Before diskette drives were common, the machine had everything it needed to boot stored in ROM and was up displaying some kind of welcome prompt within a fraction of a second. Even when the serpent entered Eden in the form of "operating systems," startup was quick. When you turned on an 48K Apple ][+ with a diskette drive and spiffy Apple DOS 3.3, there was a brief "whish" as the disk spun and loaded a few K of code into the processor, and there you were.

    It seems to me to be lazy design that says that booting consists of more than loading code into RAM and establishing state for the internal hardware. I have no idea why OSes must churn away for big fractions of a minute _running_ code. Why can't it just load a snapshot of the desired final state of RAM?

    What really gripes me is that lately Windows and Mac OS X have taken to presenting an empty _illusion_ of a faster startup. What seems to be happening is that all the minute-long processes still churn away, but the processes that present the UI run in parallel. The result is that the visible desktop gets into a displayable and interactive state quickly. But while the UI seems to be ready, nothign else is... particularly anything to do with the local network. If you actually try to do anything on that desktop, you still encounter minute-long delays.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by muridae (966931)

      It seems to me to be lazy design that says that booting consists of more than loading code into RAM and establishing state for the internal hardware. I have no idea why OSes must churn away for big fractions of a minute _running_ code. Why can't it just load a snapshot of the desired final state of RAM?

      Hard disk space is cheaper then flash memory like BIOS. Even if we agreed that we would all spend the extra cash to make the BIOS chip large enough to store the OS, which OS would we all agree to use?

      Look at the computer you mentioned, the Apple ][, almost everything it needed was in ROM. It didn't even have to worry about changing hardware when it booted, since it didn't have nice features like PCI slots and ATA hard drives. If you want features like a fast start up, get a computer that doesn't have to d

  • by sbaker (47485) * on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:02PM (#17189224) Homepage
    (I hope I have this story right...this is from memory)

    The story goes that the engineer working on the boot sequence for the original Mac was working late one night when Steve Jobs wanders past and asks how long the thing takes - the engineer is pretty happy that he's gotten it down to around 30 seconds (or however long it was) and that's probably good enough. Jobs then comments that they'll probably sell at least a million of these things - and each one will probably be booted a couple of times a day - and the machines will last maybe five years - so if he can save just one second more from the bootup time - that's equivelent to 113 years from the lives of Mac owners. So if you can save just one more second - that's like saving someone's life.

    Talk about pressure!

    But it's a serious point. The amount of human lifetimes that are wasted waiting for PC's to reboot is pretty horrifying - and there's a lot more than a million of them. Someone should take this seriously.
    • Hate to imagine the amount of human lifetimes lost on slashdot...
    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:53PM (#17189750)
      Well, if everybody just stared at their screens and drooled while they booted, I guess you could say something was being wasted. Except for all the quality drooling time, of course.
    • by Almahtar (991773) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:30PM (#17190066) Journal
      If everyone did a few situps, pushups, jumping jacks, whatever while waiting for a shutdown + restart to happen, I wonder what the overall health impact would be? 1 second could turn into 1 jumping jack, which would be 113 * 365 (days in a year) * 24 (hours in a day) * 60 (minutes in an hour) * 60 (seconds in a minute) jumping jacks. 31536000 jumping jacks. How many lives would be so much more prolonged by that amount of jumping jacks? What impact could that make on the high obesity rates in America (guilty as charged...)?

      Perhaps those lifetimes aren't wasted by necessity but by negligence, laziness, and choice.
    • The amount of human lifetimes that are wasted waiting for PC's to reboot is pretty horrifying - and there's a lot more than a million of them.

      I just spent 30 seconds reading your post.

      YOU BASTARD!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by birge (866103)
      Terrible logic, though an incredibly common lapse. As the number of people you're considering goes up, so does the amount of total time they spend doing other stuff. If the logic doesn't apply to a single person, it doesn't apply to n people, either. The fraction of your life you spend waiting for computers isn't worth thinking a second about. You spend far more time waiting in traffic, waiting for hot water to heat, etc.

      The bottom line is that the fraction of wasted time stays the same no matter how many p

    • by evilviper (135110) on Monday December 11, 2006 @03:07AM (#17191500) Journal
      The amount of human lifetimes that are wasted waiting for PC's to reboot is pretty horrifying - and there's a lot more than a million of them.

      Only if everyone in the world sits around and waits for it to happen every single time, and does absolutely nothing else with that down time. It doesn't count if you spend that time even THINKING about another issue/problem. You have to sit there motionless, stare at the screen, and do absolutely nothing but age.

      Personally, I can find plenty of things to do with my time when I know I can walk away.

      The more significant issue, IMHO, is the responsiveness of programs. Forget boot-up times, when you don't even have to be there. How about the delay between clicking the Firefox icon, and waiting for it to start-up so you can do useful work? How about the delay between clicking on a link, and having that link load and render? How about the ammount of time the system is unresponsive as it does something (like render a webpage) in the background?

      That, IMHO, is many times more important, and something I certainly have to deal with far more often than reboots. Personally, I have a 2GHz system, with 1GB of RAM, and I still strictly stick with GTK-1 programs, because it's so much faster and more responsive than GTK-2 (or QT) equivalents (as well as not uselessly wasting screen realestate). Ever program I use has a fully functional GTK-1 equivalent, so I'm not missing out on anything by sticking with it, it's just an occasional hassle to change the default configure option, or using a different program because the new version of whatever dropped GTK-1 support (like switching from GAIM to Ayttm). It's a rare issue, and well worth the improved performance anyhow.
  • 30 Seconds? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sammy baby (14909) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:05PM (#17189270) Journal
    Around 30 seconds?

    I work for a large Fortune 500 company which does IT consulting. My work-issue laptop comes with a lot of baggage, including anti-virus, anti-spyware, automatic backup & disaster recovery, a special system update program, et cetera, et cetera.

    How bad is it? It's like this: I can start my computer, and within about a minute, I get a standard XP pro login screen. After entering my username and password, I immediately get up and walk away, down a flight of stairs, out the door, and about a hundred yards to our campus cafeteria, where I'll buy a coffee. By the time I get back, my coffee is cool enough to drink, and my laptop is usually in a useable state.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:06PM (#17189282) Homepage
    What gripes me more than slow startup is the idea that a computer can't be shut off quickly.

    The last time we had a power failure at work, I tried to shut down my Windows machine, which was on a UPS. For some reason, the machine decided at that very exact instant... apparently _after_ I selected shutdown... that it would be a good idea to download and install a system update first! There did not appear to be any way to interrupt the process. Knowing that the batteries on the UPS weren't what they usta be, I quickly turned off the CRT to reduce the load, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best.

    It took the machine the better part of ten minutes to shut down. Fortunately the batteries held out. Heaven only knows what would have happened if power had been interrupted while it was in the middle of installing a system update.

    Years ago the science writers used to tell us that we needn't be afraid of computers taking over the world because, after all, we could always shut off the power. Yeah, right.

    • by 0123456 (636235) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:16PM (#17189370)
      Or not shut down at all. One day last week I told my work PC to shut down, turned off the monitor and went home. Next day I came in, and it was saying 'Adobe Acrobat Reader has crashed, press 'OK' to continue'.

      Like I give a crap. When I tell a computer to shut down, I want it to _shut down_; I do not want to come back hours later and find it didn't do what I told it to.

      This is particularly annoying in the morning when I've left my home PC running overnight doing video or 3D rendering, and it's swapped out vast megabytes of stuff to make room for a totally pointless disk cache (what's the point in swapping out programs to cache multi-gigabyte video files when I'm processing them from one end to another?), so when I tell it to shut down it first spends five minutes spinning up all the disks and swapping back in all the programs it swapped out... but if I head off to work while it's still shutting down I may come back in the evening to find it still sitting there telling me that some piece of crap little applet that I never even wanted to run crashed while shutting down.

      That's even worse than the fact that it takes two or three minutes after logging back in in the evening before it stops thrashing the hard disk and I can actually do something useful. At least I can make coffee or something while it's booting up.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Elvis77 (633162)
      I agree, I'm much more interested in saving time when I'm going home... than when I get to work...
  • Be serious (Score:5, Funny)

    by BCW2 (168187) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:08PM (#17189292) Journal
    If Windows didn't go through the complete boot process each time how would it come up with random reasons to crash?
  • by toby (759) * on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:15PM (#17189360) Homepage Journal

    Jef Raskin [raskincenter.org], creator of Macintosh and Canon Cat (the latter embodied his instant-on ideal), also complained about the time it takes a computer to start up.

    Startup times have not changed in several decades. Here are some data points [advogato.org] I collected a while ago:

    AST boasts [cs.vu.nl] that "on a 4.77 MHz 8088 [MINIX] booted in maybe 5 seconds".

    Data point. AMD K6-2/500 (bogomips : 989.18), 256MB, Gentoo 2004.1, kernel 2.6.5-gentoo-r1 boots in 39 seconds[1] (/etc/runlevels/default/ = apache domainname local mysql named net.eth0 netmount squid sshd syslog-ng vixie-cron)

    Data point. G4/dual 1.25GHz, 768MB, MacOS 10.2.6: 33 seconds[2]

    Data point. G4/350, 576MB, MacOS 10.3.3: 32.5 seconds[2]

    Data point. P4 Celeron 2.4GHz (bogomips : 4734.97), 512MB, Gentoo 2004.1, kernel 2.6.5: 27.5 seconds[1] (/etc/runlevels/default/ = domainname local mysql named net.eth0 netmount sshd syslog-ng vixie-cron).

    Data point. NeXTstation Turbo 68040 33MHz: 55.5 seconds[3]

    1. from confirming Grub screen to login
    2. from Apple logo to login
    3. from NEXTSTEP boot to login

    Gah. No way to do footnote references in mod_virgule? entities don't work, <sup> doesn't work...

  • by wbren (682133) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:19PM (#17189396) Homepage
    Windows Vista's ReadyDrive feature is supposedly going to improve boot times, assuming you have a hard drive that supports it. Since the ReadyDrive hard disks are not available yet, I don't know how well it works, but you can read some more about it here:

    http://www.winsupersite.com/reviews/winvista_05c.a sp [winsupersite.com]

    Windows Vista natively supports a new generation of hybrid hard drives coming soon from Samsung and other companies via a feature named Windows ReadyDrive. I haven't been able to test this feature yet because these hard drives aren't yet available, but here's how it works: The hybrid hard drives combine a standard hard disk with large amounts (1 GB or more) of non-volatile flash memory. This memory acts a cache of sorts, providing a number of benefits. First, the system will boot up and resume from various sleep states much more quickly, allowing users to get back to work more quickly. Because the hard drive, with all its moving parts, spins up much less frequently, you'll experience better overall performance and better overall battery life. (For this latter reason, the first generation hybrid hard drives will likely target the notebook market and not the desktop PC market.) Hybrid hard drives should also be more reliable than their standard drive cousins, again, because the moving parts won't need to spin up so often.

    Interestingly, previous generation operating systems won't be able to utilize these hybrid hard drives unless of course the drive makers include drivers in the box to enable that support. But Vista supports this technology out of the box, so there's nothing to add or configure. If you have such a drive, Windows ReadyDrive will just work. It's a win-win.
  • by bunions (970377) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:28PM (#17189502)
    honestly, this is like the dumbest possible way to ask why we can't have faster boot times.

    Ok, maybe not. The dumbest possible way is probably something like:

    "why can't the compujigger turn on faster, like the whatchamavision?"

    but still, it's pretty damn close.
  • Already been done (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xenocide2 (231786) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:35PM (#17189576) Homepage
    What you're describing is mostly solved by hibernate; save the entire state to disk, and when you start up again, some mini bootloader restores the state. Doesn't mean others haven't tried different stuff. WinXP took some steps to make a first boot go faster. Put files accessed on boot somewhere special for faster access, etc. Cut boot down to.

    But the basic problem is one of disk throughput and memory usage. There's a hell of a lot of stuff used on boot. CPU usage is secondary to pulling things off of disk. Unlike other computer systems, your desktop isn't intended to run programs directly off of ROM. It's intended to run a variety of applications, and accept a variety of underlying hardware. Since neither nor the hardware is designed to run a specific application from ROM, you can't just start with an assumed operating system or program.

    Also, to bring up a nit, your TV only starts up instantly because it's halfway started most of the time. Turn it off for a long time or unplug it and you'll see it take a while to "warm up". This uses quite a bit of power. If you felt like it, you could pay extra to build a motherboard etc that supports suspend for desktops, but it takes a lot of effort to get the software right, so its primarily done for laptops. It'd be a nice comprimise between booting/hibernating and "instant on" that you want.
  • I remember when. . . (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:45PM (#17189678)
    Back when I was a kid, I ran a cute little TRS-80 Color Computer. It had an on/off button. You pressed it, and it was on and ready to go. You pressed it again, and it was off, nice and tidy. Yeah, it had only 32 kb, but hey. It was fast.

    Today I have an HP Jornada 820 built in 1999. It runs Windows CE, and it turns on faster than anything. You hit the on/off button and you are either on or off just like that. --Best of all, it holds open all of your documents and programs exactly as you left them. I feel confident not saving stuff because it's so rock-steady reliable. The little critter is run on Flash memory; no hard drives.

    My PC. . ? Well now. . , that beast is slow. Very slow.

    I thought electrons moved at the speed of light, so what's the hold up? I refuse to blame the hard drives; those things are usually faster than Flash memory. So what's up? Bloat-ware? Too much hardware to configure? Poor programming? All of the above?

    I don't know, but I suspect that if engineers had their act together and were not constrained by the ridiculous way of doing things which are currently in place, we'd have much better machines available.


    -FL

  • by aldo.gs (985038) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:48PM (#17189704)
    I mean, all those gears and counterweights can't be that slow, now can they? Wait...
  • i-RAM (Score:5, Informative)

    by phalse phace (454635) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:19PM (#17189956)
    I'm surprised no one's mentioned Gigabyte's i-RAM yet.

    According to Anandtech, booting with the i-RAM into Windows XP takes 9.12 seconds. [anandtech.com]

    "With a Western Digital Raptor, you can go from the boot menu to the Windows desktop in 14.06 seconds; with the i-RAM, it takes 9.12 seconds. It's not instantaneous, but it's definitely quicker and noticeable."
    • Remember those numbers vary from install to install. They were likely running a fairly new install but not completely so.

      Probably 80% of the boot time is crappy drivers and helper apps that seem to accumulate over time.

      I put my OS on a Raptor and a clean install boots in roughly 6 seconds. A few months later, it's up around 20 seconds. Give it a year and I have no doubt I'll be sucking up near 60 second boot times as the assorted cruft Windows picks up tries to initialize itself and happily conflicts with e
  • by robbak (775424) on Monday December 11, 2006 @12:08AM (#17190380) Homepage
    An increasing amount of hardware is using firmware. To save cents, many of these devices are being sold without flash to store this firmware, and are relying on the OS to load the firware into the device on every boot.
    This means that the OS must upload the firmware on a restart, or full hibernation. While it is conceivable that a system could be implemented to do this, and leave the device in a conistant state, it sounds like a tedius, error prone setup, that is likely to cause no end of problems.
    Of course, you could do away with the problem by making us all pay an extra quater-cent for a few k of flash, like a sensible hardware vendor.....
  • lack of innovation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drDugan (219551) * on Monday December 11, 2006 @12:19AM (#17190450) Homepage
    I use a mac powerbook G4 laptop. After a quick scan of the wtmp.x files, my average time between reboots is about 7 or 8 days. Let me translate: I reboot my laptop once a week. Outside of reboots, it goes to sleep, and wakes up in 1-2 seconds. I almost never wait for my computer any more (since I got my new 2g -o- ram).

    I think the real question here is not "why do reboots take so long?", but why do you need to reboot so often. The people who design your OS are working to minimize reboot time, but at some point you will have to do a fresh cold boot to set the system up from scratch.

    The tools to save that state are not good on windows (see title).
    Why does so much of normal proceedure in Microsoft require a reeboot? (see title).
    Why are windows OS's so unstable? The answer to this is clear - see title above.

  • S3 Standby (Score:4, Informative)

    by xlsior (524145) on Monday December 11, 2006 @12:20AM (#17190466) Homepage
    - A 'normal' cold boot of my PC takes about a minute
    - 'Hibernate' takes about 20 seconds
    - S3 Standby takes about 6 seconds.

    One catch is that by default most systems use 'S1' mode for standby, which keeps the machine semi-alive including the CPU fan, power supply fan, etc. You can often go into the BIOS, change the default standy mode to 'S3' -- this will shut down the entire machine (including fans, etc.) but keep proviging a minimal power charge to the RAM in your machine so it won't lose its contents.

    Since all the content remains in RAM that way, your machine will behave the same as if you did a hibernate, except it doesn't have to spend the additional ~25 seconds writing everything to disk first when you shut down, and also doesn't have to spend that time to read it back into RAM on bootup... Resulting in the ~6 second bootup time.

    (While it takes some power for the RAM to keep its information, it is negligible compared to a complete shut down, since any modern PC still provides some power to the motherboard after it is 'powered off'. Case in point: See the LED on the main board indicating the power status on a machine that's supposedly turned off)

    It's been a long time since I truly shut down my PC.

    Note: the one catch is that if you do lose power to your machine while it is in standby mode, any contents that were in memory at the time will be forgotten again, and it will do a 'full' bootup next time you start. Hibernate doesn't have that problem, but takes significantly longer to shut down and boot up.
  • Why indeed? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ChilyWily (162187) on Monday December 11, 2006 @12:37AM (#17190562) Homepage
    Why can't a computer turn on and off in an instant just like a TV?

    Well, first off, the comparison between a TV and a Computer is misleading. TVs for the most part, remain nothing more that big Audio Video amplifiers. If I could post a block diagram, you'd have the receiving section (UHF/VHF etc), the audio and video amplifiers with a little bit of tuning capabilities etc, and the presentation (the screen, audio output etc.) There's not much going on in terms of what the device needs to know to be able to boot.

    Fast forward to the newer TVs with a lot of digital "intelligent" boxes in them and you can already start to see bootstrapping time.

    Computers (circa80s and so on) have almost always required a lot of time to discover their environment, whether it be the associated hardware to discovering the network they're on.

    Nonetheless, the question is a good one. Why not? Part of the reason is that in making devices modular, one incurs a certain need to exchange data to make the device work. The interfaces (e.g., CPU to Video card or CPU to hard disk) continue to remain slow... so at boot up time, there is considerable time taken to repeat these very same actions each time. The second reason has to deal with the operating systems we got out there - Why must they control every aspect of the hardware beneath them? Why couldn't it just be a set of modules where they can send a unified data stream and have the device deal with it. This rant ranges from the IO buffering required for some devices to the management of actual devices for consuming data by the OS. I'm appalled everytime I see how many queues get involved in just sending data in and out of a modern OS.

    I'll readily grant that this is just an off the cuff reply - many here have given equally good reasons and the topic deserves much more careful study. Just my humble 2 cents.

    Cheers!

  • by myowntrueself (607117) on Monday December 11, 2006 @02:34AM (#17191370)
    I see people posting saying that hardware detection and initialisation is bound to slow things down, and that is true, but its not the whole story.

    Whenever you boot a computer, as opposed to a TV set, there are an awful lot of processes going on. Services start up, various configurations and libraries are loaded up. Lots happens and this lots happening contends for one another for the limited resource of I/O, memory and CPU.

    Antivirus scans start happening; if you have AV software which scans DLLs or executables on load this will increase the resource contention significantly.

    And at every boot things may be slightly different. For one thing, between last reboot and this a virus could have found its way into the system.

    Computers are not exactly finite state machines. Every boot will inevitably differ from the last for oh so many reasons.

    Its not like a TV where it only has so many states that it could be in at any time and where things don't change between startups.

    If you want instant boots, I suggest sticking with a console and playing games and for math use a calculator.

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