By the time Ubuntu 10.04 LTS rolls around next April, Canonical is interested in seeing Ubuntu boot on an Intel Atom netbook (specifically the Dell Mini 9) in less than ten seconds. These incredibly fast boot time goals even led Canonical to decide against investing more time in enhancing the boot experience with Red Hat's Plymouth. Canonical has already come close to achieving this with the Ubuntu 9.04 release earlier this year, but how is Ubuntu 9.10 changing the boot time with defaulting to the EXT4 file-system and their other ongoing changes? In this article, we have re-installed Ubuntu 8.10, 9.04, and a 9.10 development snapshot on two netbooks and one laptop to see how Ubuntu's boot time is changing.
The testing for this article was very simple. We performed clean installations of Ubuntu 8.10, 9.04, and 9.10 (using a daily LiveCD from 2009-08-25) on a Dell Inspiron Mini 9, Samsung NC10, and a Lenovo ThinkPad T60. Once the installation was complete, we installed Bootchart and that was the only change made to any of the distributions. After that and a few reboots later, we had our Bootchart numbers and then proceeded to test the next Ubuntu release in the same fashion.
Our testing began with the Dell Mini 9 with its pretty conventional netbook hardware -- an Intel Atom N270 CPU, 1GB of DDR2 memory, and an 8GB SSD.
Under Ubuntu 8.10 it took 33 seconds to boot, just 14 seconds to boot Ubuntu 9.04, and the Ubuntu 9.10 development snapshot took 14 seconds too. Also worth noting from the Bootchart graphs is the maximum disk throughput, which peaked at 58MB/s in Ubuntu 8.10, but for Ubuntu 9.04 and 9.10 was at 72 MB/s. 14 seconds for a boot time is nice, but still not the 10 seconds or less that we will be looking for on this Mini 9 within the next eight months or so when Ubuntu 10.04 LTS rolls out. As you can see though, more processes are starting up under Ubuntu 9.10 when compared to the earlier releases.