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Why Do Computers Take So Long to Boot Up?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the tired-hampsters dept.

Operating Systems 975

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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hum (4, Informative)

bedonnant (958404) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189088)


Re:hum (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#17189198)

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:hum (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#17189408)

Hibernation as currently implemented in Windows is too unreliable to take seriously. I always get "Insufficient resources to complete the API".

Hibernation is okay (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189454)

Hibernation with Windows seems to work okay. I actually use it most often, rather than shutting down the machine.

That being said, I totally enjoy using Centos on my old Dell C640. One thing I don't get, is either a functioning suspend, ultra-low-power modes, or hibernation. I do realize I should try using the BIOS-supported suspend to disk, but I don't want to repartition at this point. It is annoying to setup, with Dell's DOS-based utilities.

My computer does (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#17189090)

Are you saying I'm special?

You haven't asked before (5, Funny)

JonathanR (852748) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189094)

It is because until now, you haven't submitted your question to Slashdot.

TVs don't need to do very much (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#17189098)

... so what little embedded hardware they have doesn't take long to boot up.

On the other hand, my Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD player, which I believe runs Linux, takes as long to boot from its flash ROM as my XP box takes to boot from a cold start. I imagine the Blu-Ray players aren't instant-on, either. This is something we will just have to get used to, I suspect.

Hibernate (0)

nuggz (69912) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189100)

It's been done, laptops do it all the time.
Personally I don't reboot my desktop enough for it to be an issue.

Re:Hibernate (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189264)

I've never gotten sleep or hibernate to work on any laptop (at all under linux, highly buggy but occasionally works under windows) that I've ever used. On my desktop, I generally don't ever shut it down anyway, so it's not an issue there.

It's highly sucktitudinous that sleep or hibernate don't work on my current laptop as I have to shut it down frequently throughout the day to travel from customer to customer.

Re:Hibernate (2, Interesting)

starbird (409793) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189344)

Sleep works amazingly well on my G4 powerbook and osx. Its the only computer that I've owned that I can repeatedly put to sleep and expect to 'wake up'.

Re:Hibernate (5, Informative)

pasamio (737659) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189458)

same with my ibook g4, i just put the lid down and walk away. it always wakes up. on the powerbook hd, and macbooks (incl pro), sleep actually stores a hibernate image on the disk so that if you either 1) run out of battery or 2) manually pull the battery out (lets say on a long intl flight) and put in a new one. If you do a wake when you haven't killed of the power source (99% of the time really), it uses the RAM to continue operation. If you've disconnected power for whatever reason, it will wake up, present a little loading bar (incl a screenshot of your desktop if you don't require a password to unlock your computer from sleep/screensaver). Heres an Apple doc on it: http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=302 477 [apple.com]

Re:Hibernate (2, Informative)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189348)

Obviously, you've never used a Mac. Get one, and all the "suckitude" (that's related to power management, at least) will magically disappear.

Re:Hibernate (5, Informative)

tulare (244053) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189352)

That's one of the things that always amazed me about OS X. You can fault it for various reasons, but by god, you shut the lid on your iBook, and five seconds later, it's in zzz mode (with a battery life of about two weeks - I tested that once). Open the lid up, go "one, one thousand..." and it's awake and ready to use. I've tried this on some of the newer Intel-based MBPs and regular MBs, and it works just as well. So Apple has it dialed. What gives with the rest of the computing world? My stupid Latitude has such a buttfargled ACPI that windows goes "Derr, BSOD" when I try to use hibernate, and of all the Linux distros I tried on it, only Kubuntu came close to doing it right. The problems it encountered at wake-up were sufficient that I finally gave up on hibernate (as well as Kubuntu - on to a better KDE distro), and simply have it blank the screen when I flip the lid shut. It's good for about four hours that way, which is usually enough.

Re:Hibernate (2, Informative)

cockroach2 (117475) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189392)

Get an IBM ("Lenovo"). Suspend and wakeup work perfectly well on my x41 (running Linux).

Re:Hibernate (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#17189354)

Personally I don't reboot my desktop enough for it to be an issue.

And you run Windows?? (Queue the "you must be a moron if you have to reboot..." comments)

Seriously, though, I have to reboot my work machine a couple of times per day. Is it because I'm a moron? Possibly. It could also be the fact that my machine is locked down tight (disallowing me to diagnose it myself), and that even though I submitted the thing to Desktop Support countless times for random memory errors, the thing still isn't stable (even though they claim it's fixed). I used to think that they'd *want* to fix these productivity issues to save money, but then I realized that it's probably cheaper for them to tell me to work longer hours (I'm salaried). Whenever possible, I try to leave my laptop running overnight. However, since I work at multiple sites, I'm usually forced to turn it off. It's not uncommon for it to take me 20-30 minutes per day to start up my machine (I usually have to reboot many, many times before I can avoid the memory error). Desktop support has "fixed" it several times now. Begging them to reload it has gone on deaf ears.

To be fair, I suppose I don't have to restart my home machines too often, unless I install an update or some software (still annoying). I wish I could work from home, but they tell me it's a security risk. Better to waste time rebooting I suppose. (For the curious, this is a Fortune 500 company.)

Laptops (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189496)

I have a laptop, not a desktop, and yes I don't turn it off. Mostly this is because I have Centos [centos.org] installed, and I haven't figured out how to configure either a hibernation method (via Dell's BIOS), low power modes, or a functioning suspend. So, I leave it on all the time. This is very annoying. I do get much better battery life with Windows.

Errr.... (1, Redundant)

JFMulder (59706) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189104)

It's called hibernation. Use it. Laptops and desktops have had it for years. I never turn my Windows machine down. I always send it in hibernation. My computer has been running for a month like this. Next time I actually reboot is probably when I BSOD or install a new driver.

As for TVs, and VCR, they are wayyyyyyyy simpler. That's the reason they turn on so quickly.

Re:Errr.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#17189266)

Or until Tuesday when patches come out.

Re:Errr.... (0, Offtopic)

Hirsto (601188) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189286)

CRT TV's turn fast because the tube has a bias circuit to keep it warm. When turned "OFF" most TV's burn about 5W to keep the tube warm for fast start. You definitely weren't around in the 60's and mid 70's when we watched the tube warm up and the displayed image grow from a small dot to the full size of the screen. Sometimes it would take 20 or more seconds before the picture stabilized. When you turned the TV off you got to watch the "boot" process in reverse as the display shrunk to a dot. It was a big deal when we got "instant-on" TV's.

30 seconds to startup? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#17189106)

boo fucking hoo. how horrible to have to wait 30 seconds.

Re:30 seconds to startup? (1)

Architect_sasyr (938685) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189386)

Someone's obviously never forgotten to sleep their laptop before entering a big presentation...

boot time (3, Informative)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189108)

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.

This topic has come up so many times... (1)

MrTrick (673182) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189110)

And no - people don't care *enough* for manufacturers and software writers to do it. Plus even if you power-down and store memory state on the hard drive, it takes a minimum time to load it back in.

Re:This topic has come up so many times... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#17189310)

Ever tried using Hibernation on a machine that wasn't crippled with too little memory? My laptop with 2GB of RAM takes several MINUTES to come back from hibernation, because even the 'unused' memory gets written out to and read from disk.

Linux is a different story, and the equivilant of Hibernation can indeed be set up to have a 'nearly pre-booted' system. :-)

fast booting TVs ? (5, Interesting)

HughsOnFirst (174255) | more than 8 years ago | (#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:fast booting TVs ? (2, Interesting)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189142)

On the first boot after a power loss or a reboot my cable box takes a minute or 2 to bootup.

Re:fast booting TVs ? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189472)

My brother got a fancy new tv recently and I was bothered by the boot time. It is only like 15 or 20 seconds, but I really didn't understand why the tv was able to show me a message explaining that it was busy turning on, but unable to show video. That kind of thing always leads me to wonder, is there some real technical limitation, is there some spaz that thinks it's fine(booting for 15 seconds is better than being a little blurry for 0.5 seconds or something equally stupid), or is the development process just broken? I'm no expert, but I really can't think of what the damn thing can be doing for ten seconds that it can't throw whatever signal up right away.

Computers are enough more complicated than tvs that a little bit of waiting to turn on is okay -- the ability to run whatever operating system I want is quite a lot more important than turning on instantly(it's XP), and that means that standards aren't going to change at anything other than a slow pace, which is going to make quickening things up difficult, even as hardware charge forth.

Re:fast booting TVs ? (2, Informative)

dattaway (3088) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189478)

"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.

I had this idea as well. (0)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189118)

Possibly now that we have the hybrid flash/magnetic hard drives this could be possible. A highly compressed start image could be put together by windows much like how you could create a Linux kernel with just the drivers for the things you have in it. This could be loaded into the flash area of the drive and pulled into ram very quickly. A flag could be set to that if the hardware had changed and the system was unbootable, the next restart would attempt to load the OS in the normal way.

Hybrid drives (1)

Inverted Intellect (950622) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189120)

I have absolutely *NO* idea what is and isn't feasible regarding boot up times with current methods, but hybrid drives should improve this by a lot. With all of the required boot-up bits written to non-volatile memory with practically zero seek-times, computers with hybrid drives will hopefully boot up almost instantly. And from what I hear, some motherboard makers will soon be including flash memory on the mobos themselves for this very purpose.

IBM's "Rapid Resume" (1, Interesting)

hiryuu (125210) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189124)

IBM gave something like this a whirl back in the day (late 90s) with their Aptiva product line (at least - possibly with others), called "Rapid Resume." If I recall correctly, it just dumped the contents of all memory to an image file on the hard drive, and preserved the swap and shut down. The theory was, on start-up, it would just load the state right back into RAM, and away you went.

The problems I recall it having for certain wer that the time to dump to disk was waaaaay too long, and I don't think it was compatible with FAT32, among other issues. Anyone else remember this thing?

Re:IBM's "Rapid Resume" (2, Informative)

Kuciwalker (891651) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189336)

It's called "hibernate."

Maybe it's just Windows XP? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Maybe it's just Windows XP? (1)

SaidinUnleashed (797936) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189350)

It is. On the box I am on now, a 933MHz P-III with 256mb of ram (RDRAM FTL...), Linux takes 16 seconds from grub to the login prompt (only 25 if I switch to gui login), but Windows XP takes almost a minute to get to login, then about a minute more until everythng is done loading, like AV stuff.

So yeah, I think it's just Windows that has become incredible fat bloatware.

Hibernate, or suck it up (2, Insightful)

svunt (916464) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189130)

Hibernation, as almost everyone's pointed out, works fine, unless you *need* to reboot for an install, crash, etc. In taht case, geez, 30 seconds? Cry me a river, how often do you actually need to restart?

Re:Hibernate, or suck it up (1)

techmuse (160085) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189200)

Hibernation (or sleep) causes my PC to blue screen or freeze.

Re:Hibernate, or suck it up (1)

Paul Slocum (598127) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189234)

Or standby. And it works for my desktop just as well as my laptop. In Windows XP, under power settings you can choose what the power button does. I have my set to go to standby.

Re:Hibernate, or suck it up (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189236)

Cry me a river, how often do you actually need to restart?

While I 100% agree with your "cry me a river" statement, some of us have to shutdown and restart at least daily for work. I come in to work, start the computer and go down the hall to get mail, etc. I don't have a clue how long it takes to boot but I'm certainly not complaining about it.

Re:Hibernate, or suck it up (1)

svunt (916464) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189288)

That's a good point...if you have a regular start-up moment daily, 30 seconds isn't hard to fill with coffee, cleaning crap off your desk, masturbation, etc

Re:Hibernate, or suck it up (1)

AdamKG (1004604) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189410)

Lol. Ok, so even with the theory that you can wank at work, that doesn't solve the issue for students like myself, who have to power down multiple times (I don't count, but probably around 4 is average) per day as we switch classes, go from/to home, etc. Luckily for me, my suspend works perfectly (with Ubuntu) but the submitter has a point: low-level stuff like acpi should be extremely, totally, absolutely reliable. The fact that suspend does not work universally is ridiculous.

Re:Hibernate, or suck it up (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189342)

You should leave your computer on overnight at work and run something like Folding@Home to use the unused processor time.

Re:Hibernate, or suck it up (1)

AdamKG (1004604) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189470)

It may be unused CPU time, but it's not unused power. Try running something like that on a laptop and notice how things heat up rather quickly... the same thing happens on a desktop, you just don't notice it (until the power bill comes).

Hardware and Security (4, Informative)

DreadSpoon (653424) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189134)

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.

Sleep / Hibernate (1)

saikatguha266 (688325) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189136)

You have just described the concept behind hibernate (suspend to disk) and sleep (suspend to memory).
I have not "booted up" in over 6 months now; I updated my kernel 6 months ago.
The time from opening the lid to being able to use it is under 5 seconds.
There should be no reason why the same can't be done for desktops.

STR (5, Insightful)

SmartSsa (19152) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189138)

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.

Why (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#17189144)

do you ever turn it off?

You know... (1)

dexomn (147950) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189148)

back in the day... they used to have this ramdisk thing...

Oh please. (0, Troll)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189150)

You're whining about 30 seconds? My god, get a life.
When I get up in the morning I go into my office and power up everything then hit the bathroom, start the coffee, walk the dogs then back in to grab a cup of now brewed coffee on my way to my desk.
By then everything is not only booted up but it's warmed up and happy.

You Generation M (microwave oven) kids need to quit demanding everything on demand.
"I want it and I want it NOW!"

Re:Oh please. (5, Insightful)

chaos421 (531619) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189202)

don't you think that if computers booted in 1-2 seconds, people would be more likely to turn them off when not in use? odds are, if your computer takes more than a minute or so to boot you won't turn it off say over lunch or during breaks. think of all the energy we could save? for the energy conscious out there, you could start by turning monitors off when not in use.

Re:Oh please. (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189426)

Yes because everyone will just love spending 5 minutes restoring their running programs and open documents...

Sorry to break it to you but boot is the smallest part of what it takes to get up and running. God knows I could boot faster than it takes me to get out of hibernate on my laptop (on average counting time to fix whatever fails to work) but getting everything open again would take forever.

As for saving power, we already have tons of power saving options in computer: Monitors go to sleep, computers go to sleep, hard drive turn off and so on. Heck, if you want to save even more power you can have it hibernate which is also nice for dual booting.

Re:Oh please. (4, Insightful)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189450)

I really don't know if it's that great of an idea to turn of a computer over lunch. One of the hardest things on a computer (hard drive, motherboard, power supply, you name it) is starting up. That's when most hardware failures occur. Shutting the computer down for an hour at a time and rebooting is going to shorten lifetimes of your hardware. I think when that hard drive fries it might well take more energy to construct a new hard drive and restore backups, etc, than you probably would have saved during those 30-60 minutes x however many days.

Re:Oh please. (2, Insightful)

SocratesJedi (986460) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189326)

Bah! I think you forgot: "Get off my lawn!"

The thought: "You Generation M (microwave oven) kids need to quit demanding everything on demand" is one which discourages advancement in technology. No matter how good something is, it can always be better. Life used waiting for a needed device to power-on is life wasted.

Prefetch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#17189154)

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.

Windows pretty much does that already [wikipedia.org] .

instant booting over the horizon (2, Informative)

chaos421 (531619) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189158)

it appears that some, including samsung [gizmodo.com] do care and are looking to the future of speeding up boot times.

personally, i think this is a fantastic idea. i really love the fact that my powerbook can go from sleep mode to on in under a second. however this takes quite a bit of battery power to accomplish. wouldn't it be much better if they wrote out the memory to flash when the lid closes? then instead of sleeping, you'd be able to shut down and re start very quickly.

Windows does a lot of writes when booting (4, Interesting)

maird (699535) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189172)

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:Windows does a lot of writes when booting (2, Informative)

Bitsy Boffin (110334) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189242)

write to 250MB worth of blocks that were previously unused

Pagefile initialization is my guess.

Valid point (3, Interesting)

Mostly a lurker (634878) | more than 8 years ago | (#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).

Hibernate is for you (1)

mr.warmth (910296) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189186)

You can enable Hibernation for your Windows (under Control Panel, Power). This essentially dumps the ram to disk, and then reloads from that image on next bootup.

The added benefit is that not only are you back to Windows sooner, your Windows session is exactly where you left off.

Re:Hibernate is for you (1)

Spacejock (727523) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189368)

The downside is that you lose a gig of hard drive space (I have 1 gig of ram and maintain a 15gb C: partition JUST for Windows and Program files) and that gig is present in every partition image I take of the drive. Since the compressed partition images are only 7gigs, it's a substantial percentage. And yes, I keep multiple partition images, stored by date. I carry a 100gb 2.5" drive in a belt pouch everywhere, and it's stuffed to the gills.

I realise it seems crazy to complain about 1 gig of space these days, but couldn't they have made the hiberfil.sys locateable on another drive or partition?

If I was going to ask (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#17189188)

I'd want to know why Windows takes so long to shut down. It can be as long as booting up, sometimes longer. Seriously, wtf?

hybrid hard disks are comeing (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189196)

hybrid hard disk will put the part of the os in flash ram. But still you still need to do a full flush of ram to get rid of all of junk and leeks that get stuck in ram.

Also in pc there is a lot more hardware then a tv that has to have it's own bios load. Also with a tv the first boot is lot slower then when you trun it off and on later on.

A history of startup time (4, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189208)


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.

Is 3 seconds not fast enough? (2, Informative)

ryanisflyboy (202507) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189214)

I think you are perhaps using the wrong OS. If you want a linux console within 3 seconds of power on, use this:

http://linuxbios.org/index.php/Main_Page [linuxbios.org]

The truth is, this subject is an old one. The main answer is that it just takes time to get a DHCP lease, set up a few dozen services, and generally get all of the "junk" you need up and working without crashing the system. If your main complaint is Windows XP there are a few tuning guides that can reduce your boot time dramatically.

Vonn Neumman complexity (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#17189222)

It all stems from the human brains inability to deal with the orders of complexity inherent in the Vonn Neumann architecture.

Gotta mention the obligatory Steve Jobs story here (5, Interesting)

sbaker (47485) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189224)

(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.

Re:Gotta mention the obligatory Steve Jobs story h (4, Funny)

Ghoser777 (113623) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189258)

Hate to imagine the amount of human lifetimes lost on slashdot...

Re:Gotta mention the obligatory Steve Jobs story h (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#17189308)

I was thinking the same thing...but then forgot about it as I was launching WoW.

Re:Gotta mention the obligatory Steve Jobs story h (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189468)

Of course, it's nothing like saving someone's life. It's like saving 1 second twice a day. Meaningless.

I have just such a computer (1)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189228)

It's marked as an Intel something or other, and it's also marked as an engineering sample. I bought it off ebay years ago. It is something like a 500MHz P3. From turning it on to getting the freebsd login prompt is 15 seconds. It doesn't mess around. Note that by "login" prompt, I don't mean boot prompt.

Why this isn't more common, I don't know. My dell and valinux boxes take a minute or so just to get to the boot prompt, very annoying.

5 seconds to go to Sleep mode on my Mac (1, Redundant)

theurge14 (820596) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189246)

And about 3 seconds after I hit a key on the keyboard to wake it back up.

If I do a complete shutdown, powerup to the Mac OS X login screen is about 15-20 seconds.

Yes, this is on a new Intel iMac with the Core 2 Duo.

Re:5 seconds to go to Sleep mode on my Mac (1)

mkiwi (585287) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189412)

I have a first generation MacBook Pro that does much the same thing, only it takes 20-25 seconds to boot up. But there are other reasons that things do and do not boot up slowly.

One think people fail to realize is that the system, every time it boots up, has to count the amount of RAM available to it. Remember those IBM's with 892K of RAM that slowly counted up during system start up-- Imagine that with a computer that has gigabytes of RAM. Now I know memory is counted faster now, but if you compare a machine with 1GB in it to a machine with 8GB at the same processor speed and 64-bit you will notice a sizable lag in the 8GB machine.

One other point to mention is that if you have a lot of PCI expansion cards, those have to register themselves with the system too. This includes any type of RAID card, which requires that all hard drives spin before it can proceed. If a drive is down, the computer waits a finite time and you find out that you have to overnight a new HDD. Bluetooth, modems, USB, Firewire-- each controller gets its spot in the memory and they often load from flash memory that is physically on the card/chipset (the NVRAM). Each additional service adds to the boot time.

The moral is you can have one heck of a system, but it can take forever to boot.

Get used to it. (1)

PyrotekNX (548525) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189254)

Computers do a lot of stuff behind the scenes which most people are unaware of. Your computer has more than one operating system on it. Your computer will first be initialized by the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) and perform a Power On Self Test (POST) to initialize your hardware and to do some basic checks. Many manufacturers hide this step by displaying their logo instead of what's actually going on behind the scenes. The BIOS then continues its boot sequence and searches for an operating system. There is a list in the BIOS of where to search for the OS. It will go in a specific order until it finds an operating system and will proceed to boot. All of this is done before WinXP even begins to be initialized. WinXP does many checks behind the scenes such as the registry and system files. It also initializes virtual memory, etc. etc.

This is the way most computers have operated for the past 20 years. The bootstrap sequence is much faster than it was in the early days when it took a few minutes to check the ram. Now it is checked so fast that you can't even see it happen.

Re:Get used to it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#17189374)

Initializing Virtual Memory should take several microseconds, that's not what's slowing down Windows. Paging files on the other hand...

Please wait, loading ... (2, Funny)

Pentapod (264636) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189260)

As a friend of mine used to say ...

I used to boot up my computer when I had nothing to do.
Now I have nothing to do when I boot up my computer.

30 Seconds? (3, Interesting)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189270)

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.

12 seconds (1)

MrLint (519792) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189274)

Recently someone at work got one of the Mac Pros. Chime to login 12 seconds. I was just plain floored.

One of the things that takes much more time on windows than anything else ive seen in the 'tray march' all the misc junk that loads after you login. That can be the really painful part, particularly if you have insufficient memory for windows XP

Re:12 seconds (1)

Graff (532189) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189442)

Recently someone at work got one of the Mac Pros. Chime to login 12 seconds. I was just plain floored./blockquote>
That's because MacOS X monitors what is starting up on your system and creates a cached block of stuff that is loaded. The next time it boots it just loads the cache in one quick burst instead of jumping around loading this and initializing that. You'll notice that if you ever install something that requires a reboot then that first boot is significantly longer than subsequent boots, that's because it is rebuilding that cache. This is something that it probably does infrequently so most times you will have a very fast boot time.

Personally I almost never shut down or boot up my Mac desktop and laptop. I put them to sleep and wake them up when I need them. It takes a couple of seconds to put them to sleep and even less to wake them up. The uptime on my desktop right now is 43 days, I only really reboot it when I'm installing updates that need it.

How about instant OFF? (5, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189282)

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.

Re:How about instant OFF? (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

De-caf (1)

UncleMark (204087) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189290)

Is a good thing.

Be serious (4, Funny)

BCW2 (168187) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189292)

If Windows didn't go through the complete boot process each time how would it come up with random reasons to crash?

every OS is different (1)

kage.j (721084) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189294)

Lurn2...FreeBSD! Different hardware and operating systems...work different. If boot up time was crucial, it could be hammered down. Windows is bloated with crap, so it takes a long time. And I also bet that those who use windows like it to take a bit, otherwise they don't think their computer is "doing enough work." My windows machine boots in about 30 sec, 20 sec of that is getting past my raid prompts, 5 sec is pagedefrag (unless it actually defrags somthing, then another 5), and 5 more for windows to login.

You have it lucky. (1)

glas_gow (961896) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189298)

30 seconds! When I was a kid computers took 5 minutes or more to boot. We'd have given our eye teeth for a 30 second boot time.

Re:You have it lucky. (1)

Necrotica (241109) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189406)

Haha, no doubt. When I started my first professional IT job, I was given a 386DX with 16MB RAM running OS/2 2.0. I could turn my machine on, go for coffee, and if I was lucky I would be at a login prompt.

This is only an issue... (1)

Secret Rabbit (914973) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189332)

...if you have extreme problems with regards to patience.I mean seriously, this guy is complaining about 30 seconds?In what world is 30 seconds (what, once a day?) so significant that it must be eradicated without prejudice?

it has been done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#17189338)

1) IBM Mainframe's used to have an idea called 'savesys' - the OS was smart enough to bouut itself to a point it could easily restart from later, and a copy of memory was saved at that point. It was very helpful when the boot process took 10 MINUTES.

2) If you are running windows there is already a lot of pre-indexing being done to reduce start up time. That is why it only takes 30 seconds.

4) As a large number of poster have already replied to you; 30 Seconds? Get a life.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned it... (1)

Vr6dub (813447) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189340)

I blame it on our slow ass hard drives. I figure POSTing is about as fast as we can expect...low level hardware stuff I suppose. What eats up the most time when booting my machine is past the BIOS gibberish and once the WinXP logo appears. Hence, the hybrid drives we are starting to see show up.

Is there anyone with a fast SCSI or RAID setup who can chime in?

Re:I'm surprised no one has mentioned it... (3, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189448)

"I blame it on our slow ass hard drives."

Slow? My ordinary, everyday IDE drives can read over 60 megabytes per second. That could fill my PC's entire memory in about fifteen seconds.

I suspect the real problem may be that the operating system is still paging in small parts of DLLs and programs rather than loading them all in one go. Loading 4k pages one at a time made sense when the operating system was a couple of megabytes, but when you're loading a hundred megabytes of crap off the disk just to get to the desktop, you'd be much better to load the entire thing in one go; disk seek times have improved by a factor of two or three in the same time that disk read speeds have increased by maybe a factor of a hundred.

Does Windows still do that?

boot times have been 30-60sec for decades (2, Insightful)

toby (759) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189360)

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...

Think about the majority of users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#17189362)

I don't think the issue here is for people who know computers very well, or even decently.

I think the idea here is this: Ask your mother what Hibernation is. She probably won't know. And she is also probably wondering why her DVD player turns on instantly but her computer takes a whole (yes, I know) minute or two in order to function. For me or you, we understand why. But I'm sure the vast majority of users (who ask "How do I shuffle the cards in Solitare?"), this sort of thing is unreasonable.

Load system files into nvram (1)

Fredbo (118960) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189378)

The last computer that could do this was the Amiga, and it was so far ahead of its time that they still haven't caught up with it...

MacOS 7.5 on a RAM disk took a second to boot (1)

jmordoj (256283) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189390)

I used to have a Macintosh Performa 475 (My first Mac), one of the things I was able to do on OS 7.5 is set up a RAM disk that acted as a real disk (It was mounted on the desktop as the real thing).
One time, I copied the OS to the disk and selected it as a Boot disk (I knew the RAM should be erased when the power goes off, but I was hoping that a restart wouldn't kill it)

And I was right!!, the booting took les than 5 seconds, it was amazing, the computer was as quick as I could wish for.

This was in 1995...

Windows Vista ReadyDrive (2, Insightful)

wbren (682133) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189396)

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.

Moo (1, Flamebait)

Chacham (981) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189398)

Mod me down, i don't care.

The person who asked this question is a moron. A computer is a piece of electroniuc equipment that can do billions of operations every second. We're down from a few minutes of boot time (remember how long it took an 8086 to boot? Counting through *all* four meg of ram!) to some seconds and he wants to know why it isn't instant.

Go read a book on how computers work. An old one such as Norton's Inside the 8086 should suffice (or whatever the name is.) The documentation is out there, if you really care, find it and read it.

But please, don't ask stupid questions. What next? Will people ask what acronyms stand for?

BIOS does not help either (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#17189404)

I have a Dell 2600 server that takes over 30 seconds just to complete it's BIOS POST. Then it starts to spin up the disks. It only has 1.5Gb of RAM, yet it just slobs along.

I don't know what manufacturers are doing in the BIOS, but they sure take their time.

I have some current tech 3.2GHz IBM's - they aren't particularly fast either.

Too much ether for Zonk tonight? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#17189436)

How did this anonymous masterpiece make it to the Slashdot front page? Have the reader and the editor never used a windows operating system in years? Hibernate was obvious even to the first poster. Doesn't linux have suspend to ram features as well? Why did this useless near troll of a paragraph end up as an ask Slashdot?

NOT Hibernate (1)

E++99 (880734) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189452)

Hibernation is fine, but it is not what the OP is talking about. There are many times you need to reboot, unless you're lucky. E.g., in many corporate settings, everyone has to reboot every day, to get new patches, updates and whatnot; anyone with any flakey device driver will run in to problems from time to time that will need to be cured with a reboot; there are (still) software installs that require reboots, etc. IANASP (I Am Not A Systems Programmer [I'm an applications programmer]), but I've always gotten the impressions that the bulk of the wait time comes from device drivers initializing. It would seem like this would be a solvable problem, as device drivers would not necessarily need to test their hardware and initialize themselves on every boot if they could each save their states on shutdown. (So the OS doesn't hibernate, but the individual device drivers do.) Of course, you'd also need a way to tell the OS that you'd like to do a "complete" reboot w/o saved states. I remember there have been pushes for speeding up boot times in the past, and they have indeed gotten better (I remember when it was common for the BIOS to require a FULL memory check on boot). But for something like this to happen it would have to be percieved across the industry as an important thing -- or else Microsoft would have to push for it.

3 minutes (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189462)

My T40 Thinkpad takes at least 3 minutes minimum from a cold start to completely finished booting. More if you include the 2-3 minutes of Windows contacting Redmond to authenticate WGA and check for updates. This last step takes 80% CPU and flat out disk while it runs. I could fix that, but WTF.

Hard is Slow... (1)

KrackHouse (628313) | more than 8 years ago | (#17189486)

Because the last moving part inside our computers is the hard drive. For the last week I've been seriously looking into the I-Ram [wikipedia.org] . Basically you plug a few RAM chips into a SATA converter and you max out the SATA bus. Granted you can only do 8GB in RAID 0 but the next gen is around the corner and it'll have SATA2 speeds and a 16GB limit. Not cheap but then nobody said performance was. Check out this Google Video [google.com] to see what it's capable of.
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