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What can be done to a "normal" (Linux Mint, not micro or embedded) distribution in order to boot "nearly immediately" as seen for instance here? What magic is that, and why doesn't every distro have this feature?

I'm curious and frankly getting more and more impatient with the boot-up time of my desktop and laptop. Both are running 64-bit Linux Mint (17 quiana on the desktop, 17.1 rebecca on the laptop). Both have plenty of RAM and SSD boot drives (desktop also has spinning storage). I'll gladly post more elaborate specs if needed, but I figure it's first and foremost a matter of technique.

The desktop machine in particular is driving me nuts with its SATA controller spending 13 seconds tasting the attached devices. Every. Gorram. Time. EDIT: Fixed this, which reduced boot time by almost 1/3rd. Perhaps this is adequate.

These machines are for the typical advanced-home-user mix of uses: browser, multimedia, Skype, USB plugging of various devices, development (-in-a-virtual-machine), and so on. I can't make do with a tablet or ultralight, because I do need the occasional bit of processing power, and I'm too ...me... to settle without fiddling with the UI candy (and configuring the keyboard for Dvorak).

EDIT with images:

EDIT 2: I'd still like help in analysing the chart below to see if anything can be done. It's a pretty chart, but it doesn't tell me so very much about what my next step could be.

I've installed and run bootchart (including a change to my fstab because my SSD is set up to run /var/log into memory, which caused the charts to not survive rebooting). My total boot time is about 43 seconds (on the desktop).

Notes on these images:

  • The SATA BIOS stage (sorry for bad quality) takes a whopping 13 seconds to complete, and I can find nowhere in the BIOS settings to reconfigure this. If only I had known before buying the motherboard... (note to self for next build!) I did manage to find an instruction around this. Now my drives are using IDE mode, which seems to work.

  • The boot chart should probably stop after 27 seconds or so. At that point I had a functioning desktop so I started Firefox (manually) which has been included in the chart.

SATA BIOS stage

enter image description here

  • 1
    I have no experience with Linux Mint, but the start-stuff-at-boot system makes a difference. I went from Slackware 12 to Arch linux (pre-systemd), and saw a huge speedup in boot on my laptop. Slackware uses an old school BSD scripted startup, don't remember what Arch used to use. When Arch moved to systemd, my laptop got another speedup in boot time. So: check to see what Linux Mint uses to start things up at boot time. It can make a difference. – Bruce Ediger Mar 17 '15 at 21:05
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    Unrelated to the OS: check your BIOS settings. In most there's a timeout setting for how long the BIOS display remains on the screen before control is passed to the OS. (For example, I think the BIOS on my computer allows setting this to 1-10 seconds in 1 second increments.) It's often beneficial to keep that up for a few seconds, but if you want the machine to boot as quickly as possible then that's also a few seconds that are very easy to shed from the overall boot process with really no ill effects. – a CVn Mar 17 '15 at 22:19
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I would recommend using bootchart to see what is causing the delay and then once you know that you can make changes to boot as fast as possible. Below is my boot chart, from powered off to on in mere seconds. This is with a full Ubuntu 14.04 install. But you must first figure out what is causing the delay before we can help you to make it faster. Here is the link to the boothcart website. I would start there and report back. In case anyone cares here is a complete reboot of my system in under 23 seconds.

  • Thank you, I had already seen that link but haven't tried it yet (thinking it is "merely" diagnostics, not action). I will install this (soon, not today) and see what gives. Then, I'll still need to figure out what to actually do. – KlaymenDK Mar 18 '15 at 7:42
  • You are correct it is 100% diagnostic. But if you don't know what is wrong how do you know what to fix... – Dylan Mar 18 '15 at 7:43
  • What do the vertical dashed red lines signify? I can find no reference to this in the bootchart docs. There are three in your chart, and two in mine. – KlaymenDK Mar 18 '15 at 10:32

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