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Tips to Make Ubuntu Boot Faster

Ubuntu is pushing the Linux desktop movement forward. Since it’s inception in 2004, Ubuntu has released over 10 versions so far, each one improving on its predecessor. It remains one of those few operating systems, that boots really fast. Still, if you are one of those brave hackers who likes to tune your machine to maximize efficiency, here are a few tricks on how to make Ubuntu boot faster.

Word of caution: These tune ups have been tested on Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Haron. I haven’t upgraded it as it has been pretty solid and stable release. So if you’re on a newer(or older) version, I suggest you do some research before applying these tricks. And of course, always keep back ups. Have Fun!

Reducing the boot menu delay

If you dual-boot Ubuntu and Windows on your computer the boot menu appears for 10 seconds, during which you can select either Windows or Ubuntu. If you only have Ubuntu installed, a prompt appears for three seconds telling you that you can hit a key to see the boot menu. You obviously don’t need to wait for the 3 seconds since you have no other OS to boot from. You can eliminate this delay by editing the boot menu configuration file.

$ gksu gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst

Then search for the line that reads timeout 10 and change the 10 to 0, to disable the boot menu completely.

Run boot-time scripts in parallel

Whenever Ubuntu boots, it runs several scripts that start necessary background services. By default these are set to run one-by-one but if you have a processor with more than one core, such as Intel’s Core Duo series or AMD’s Athlon X2, you can configure Ubuntu to run the scripts in parallel. This way all the cores are utilized and quite a bit of time can be saved at each boot.
To make the change, type the following to open the necessary configuration file in Gedit:

$ gksu gedit /etc/init.d/rc

Look for the line that reads CONCURRENCY=none and change it so it reads CONCURRENCY=shell. Then save the file and reboot your computer.

Build a readahead profile customized to your machine

Ubuntu ships with a program named ‘readahead’ which allows it cache frequently accessed files to avoid searching around for them at the startup. A default readahead profile is included in Ubuntu but you can create your own, tailored to your system. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Boot your machine and at the boot loader menu, highlight the Ubuntu entry and press key “e”. This will let you temporarily edit the boot menu entry.
  2. Use the cursor keys to move the highlight down to the second line that beings kernel and hit “e” again.
  3. Use the right arrow key to move to the end of the line and, after the words quiet and splash, add the word profile.
  4. Hit “Enter” and then “b” to boot your computer.

Note that the first boot will be slow because the readahead cache will have to be rebuilt. In subsequent boots, however, you should see speed improvements.

Trimming the GNOME startup programs

Once you’ve logged into the GNOME desktop, you’ll face yet another delay as all the GNOME background software starts. A few seconds can be saved by trimming this list and that can be done using the GNOME Sessions program (System → Preferences → Sessions). Under the Startup Programs tab, look through the list for items you might want to prune. For example, if you’re never going to use Evolution’s alarm function then Evolution Alarm Notifier can be disabled by removing the check alongside it. Be careful. Don’t turn any program off unless you are not sure what it does. For example Volume Manager isn’t related to audio, instead it enables the automatic detection of external storage devices attached to your machine.

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