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Starting VLC is slow on my system. The reason: it reads more than 1000 different .so files. Is there a way to make it read those files faster?

I think if all the files followed immediately after each other on the disk, then the disk would not have to seek, but could simply continue reading. Maybe there is a tool to move the blocks of files to consecutive sectors?

I use ext4, if that matters.

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Is there a way to make it read those files faster?

Yes:

Maybe there is a tool to move the blocks of files to consecutive sectors ?

There's Accelerated Knoppix which can do this for a CD image, but i'm not aware of something like that for ext4...

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You can compress data and based on nature of files, this can considerably reduce the disk usage so you can get more data with actual less reads.

In your case, compressing binary files, would not reduce storage as much as in case of plain text files but still it help your data located consecutively in disk so reading those shared library files with less seeks.

You can use SquashFS to make compressed image of /usr/lib. Using aufs you map /usr/lib to two other directories. One read directory which is your fast, compressed squash image mounted as squash typed partition. And one write directory which is needed for storing updates you made in /usr/lib since creation of compressed image. After some time, by installing and removing softwares, write directory will grow and then you can remake a new compressed image. This is a tutorial for Gentoo which i used for couple of years

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