% fortune -ae paul murphy

That Boot time controversy

Not so long ago, and on this network, a PC guy - George Ou - demonstrated most of what I've said about having a Windows expert install Linux by proving that he could get it to boot more slowly from a hard disk on a cheap, but recent, PC than Knoppix does from a CD on a pentium II. I was amazed and somewhat jealous - between his two blogs on this he got 1,796 talkback comments, most of them polite.

I did wonder at the time what he'd make of picoBSD, but generally thought the whole idea of considering boot times pretty silly.

And oh how wrong I was. I mean there's the reality: Windows users reboot everyday, the uptime on the Sun 60 I'm typing on is currently 93 days, so if theirs takes 30 seconds each time and mine takes one minute, I'm now about 4,000 percent ahead and gaining every day.

On the other hand, of course, the comparison isn't exactly apples to apples. Here's what Craig Bender said about it in a private email to me:

A Windows PC does boot faster than a Linux PC, if all you consider is getting to the login screen.

Linux makes sure all the processes and services are started before allowing a user to logon. Windows just gets you to the login screen fast, but then makes you wait post login to use all the services. You get the hour glass forever while windows starts everything up, even though you are still logged in.

Unfortunately some metrics are so bad, they catch on - and this one spilled over into the Apple benchmarking arena with a video comparing the boot times on a G5 iMac to that of an Intel based iMac as part of an effort to declare the Intel based machine the easy winner. It's cool, if you don't mind the fact that that it's a lie, probably created by disabling or otherwise impairing the network for the G5.

On the other hand, Mr. Bender has the perfect response: - so, to see the brutal truth about the boot time blues benchmark at work - just watch this MPEG - and pay attention: at only four seconds from power-on to login, it doesn't hang around long.

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.