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Booting Linux In Three Seconds

timothy posted more than 13 years ago | from the performance-anxiety dept.

Linux 165

cramhead writes: "Some very cool technology that motherboard manufacturers should consider adopting. Using Linux to boot a system allows flexibility and speed. Thought the world deserved a look at [the LinuxBIOS homepage]" This project sounds similar to the OpenBios project which has mentioned before on Slashdot, but a lot has happened since then, and even since CmdrTaco last posted about LinuxBIOS. The news page indeed reveals that (with certain motherboards), adventurous flashers-of-RAM can have Linux up in three seconds, and they promise improvements even on that. They also note that LinuxBIOS is working with an Alpha DS10 and with an Athlon / SiS730S combination. (This may also remind you of the etherboot project).

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About 10 seconds... (3)

sigma (53086) | more than 13 years ago | (#386707)

It takes about 10 seconds for my palm to boot, with about 20 programs and hacks installed. But you're probably thinking about the near instantaneous wake up when you press the power button, because the power button is more accurately a sleep button. The article above is about a cold boot, so if you'd like to compare apples to apples, press the reset button on your palm and see how long it takes to get to the main menu.

Re:Whats the point. (1)

rabidcow (209019) | more than 13 years ago | (#386708)

Very true, and with all their influence, why has microsoft not influenced mb manufacturers to produce a bios that will load windows faster?

It's probably due to all the dos code that still remained at the core of win9x, but with that gone is this something we may see in the future?

Clearly you couldn't put windows itself in the bios, but all the chipset drivers could be there. The bios could set up protected mode and load a large file into ram.

Or is everyone so in love with supporting legacy code that this will never happen? (even considering the amount of code that'll have to be rewritten to take advantage of 64-bit processors?)

Mac Classic (1)

disarray (108) | more than 13 years ago | (#386710)

The Macintosh Classic booted from a ROM image if the command-option-X-O keys were held down. Being as it was ROM-based and all, it was fairly limited--I believe a variant of System 6 was included at a time when System 7 was becoming quite popular.


Three reasons (1)

ruck (156392) | more than 13 years ago | (#386712)

Power conservation

Embedded applications


And there are undoubtedly more.

Better System Configs (4)

LuxuryYacht (229372) | more than 13 years ago | (#386713)

Very fast boot times isn't the only great feature of LinuxBIOS. LinuxBIOS can boot Linux and other OS's like Be or QNX, though it's not for Dos or Windows since they rely heavily on the legacy BIOS for certain features of operation that LinuxBIOS doesn't bother with. LinuxBIOS has a very stripped down linux kernel that just sets up some basic features of a PC better than many OEM BIOSes (memory, cache, super I/O) and then jumps to loading whatever kernel you wish to take the system from there.

Saving State (2)

Sludge (1234) | more than 13 years ago | (#386715)

I've heard BeOS has an implementation of a feature that's been around for a relatively long time. It dumps all of the system's memory to the disk on shutdown, and then just reads it when you boot up again.

I don't know much about what has or has not done- low level OS stuff hasn't really been an interest of mine, but I do know the way fork() works in GNU/Linux. With fork() in this environment, you don't actually do a copy of the entire data segment of the program, you just reference it and make copies of each bit as it's needed. Would it not be possible to do this upon booting of a BeOS system? ( and of course any other operating system that implements the system memory dump feature)

It seems to me that you'd only have to boot the very core features and just load the rest off the memory dump on the drive as you need them, as opposed to reading the whole thing on startup.

I've seen a few posts to this story that seem like they assume a computer with more memory would take longer to boot up with the RAM-image system. This way wouldn't. However, it would give you more sluggish performance. It might make other things feasible, like 'undoing' your system back to a certain state (although you'd have to consider data persistance because you couldn't undo changes that have already been written to storage devices)

Just some food for thought.

Re:Nice. (1)

NeuroManson (214835) | more than 13 years ago | (#386718)

Like they aren't planning to do that with Windows XP? Once they release that turkey, I bet you real money that alternative OS's will hit the mainstream big time...

If only my monitor could catch up (1)

bv3nut (199935) | more than 13 years ago | (#386719)

I would still be waiting about 8 seconds, because, it takes longer than 3 seconds for my monitor to warm up.

great opportunity for speedups even on standard hw (2)

q000921 (235076) | more than 13 years ago | (#386720)

The Linux boot sequence and startup was designed for multiuser, timeshared machines. I don't think it's appropriate for the current Linux desktop use.

I've gotten even old, slow machines to boot very quickly (under 10 seconds after LILO prompt) by compiling a non-module kernel and replacing the /etc/rc.d/... stuff with a single /etc/rc script. Of course, none of the standard admin tools know what to do with that sort of thing.

I think rethinking and redoing everything from the time the Linux kernel loads to the time the user gets a prompt or login screen could both simplify administration and speed up booting without sacrificing flexibility.

Seen those motherboards with two BIOS flashroms? (1)

Shanep (68243) | more than 13 years ago | (#386721)

RAID-0 LinuxBIOS!!! Whoohoo, boot Linux in 1.5 seconds with even more functionality!? ; )

LinuxBIOS would be super cool to boot firewall/gateways with no disks at all!

Re:old news (2)

Sabalon (1684) | more than 13 years ago | (#386722)

ram access is faster than hd access.

True. But most computers I've seen take a good bit even before they access the hard drive. Checking ram, scanning PCI bus, etc...

Re:Usefulness... (1)

brad3378 (155304) | more than 13 years ago | (#386723)

I was thinking about the Reiser Situation too.

but I think an electronic solution would be a lot faster than any mechanical Harddrive (even SSCI)

Combine Reiser FS and a special Boot Chip, and I think you'd have a real winner!

Nice. (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 13 years ago | (#386724)

This is a great idea, even if most people won't need to use it. I've been waiting for Microsoft to start forcing PC manufacturers to use "trusted" Windows-boot-only BIOSes, and if (when!) it happens, there'll be a way out.

Re:Useful for Windows, maybe... (2)

ywwg (20925) | more than 13 years ago | (#386725)

you forget that most people turn their computers off at night. It saves power and is simply practical if you're not running any servers. While the bootup time isn't horrible on linux, it's certainly noticeable. I would gladly welcome a setup that booted quickly and shut down quickly.

why use linux? (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 13 years ago | (#386726)

If someone made a consumer device just to play mp3s you could bet it would not run a multi user unix os. All you need is some eproms and the dsp decoder chip and some media to read from.

Why is this so important? (1)

oooga (307220) | more than 13 years ago | (#386727)

Why is it so important to start a computer so quickly? I leave my computer on all day, and most people leave them on for at least hours at a strech. While superbooting might be a nice goal to work towards technically, I can't see how it's actually that useful.

Re:I cant wait! (1)

pubpib (322120) | more than 13 years ago | (#386731)

idiot, that's just a pointer to your own computer. it doesn't take much skill to access your own filez.

Re:Useful for Windows, maybe... (2)

Ian Bicking (980) | more than 13 years ago | (#386734)

It depends on the efficiency of the devices. A lightbulb isn't designed to radiate infrared energy, its designed to radiate energy in the visible light spectrum.
This isn't really accurate. It does matter that a BTU of electric energy is more expensive than, say, natural gas. However, this wasn't your objection.

Creating heat is the one place where efficiency doesn't matter much at all. Second law of thermodynamics -- energy is neither created nor destroyed. The energy in light ultimately ends up as heat -- the light rays bounce off of surfaces, each time becoming dimmer and slightly heating the surfaces.

There might be a certain inefficiency to this -- maybe the surfaces aren't what needs to be heated, and while some of the heat of the walls goes to the air, some goes through the wall and outside. But I doubt that really matters much.

If you are burning fuel, efficiency does matter. You have to burn the fuel completely, and you want to lose as little heat as possible through exaust. But for electricity it's not really an issue -- all those efficiency issues have been taken care of at the power plant, and the electical energy is pretty much guaranteed to become heat in the end.

Sounds great! (1)

rzbx (236929) | more than 13 years ago | (#386735)

I've been thinking why they don't create a faster way to boot a computer for a long time. rzbx

Re:Useful for Windows, maybe... (5)

warpeightbot (19472) | more than 13 years ago | (#386737)

What would be really cool is a way to upgrade your kernel without rebooting, like QNX...
Ask and ye shall receive... te.html []

It's called Two Kernel Monte. It's a module that loads a new kernel into memory, does a little do-si-do dance to get it where it needs to be in the mode it needs to be in, then simply jumps to it. (Yes, you need to do

umount -a;mount -o ro,remount /

before doing this, since it doesn't do any of that...) No, it's not an in situ change, since all your processes die, but for systems with multiple SCSI or RAID cards, it can mean the difference in a few seconds for reboot and a few long minutes....

On a side note, make sure and grab my link; the one on Google is wrong (until they fix it), and it took me a while to find the right thing...

Never assume TFM is right.

Useful for Windows, maybe... (5)

tbo (35008) | more than 13 years ago | (#386739)

This would be useful for Windows, considering how often you need to reboot.

Why would you need it for Linux, though? I mean, who reboots more than once every major kernel upgrade? What would be really cool is a way to upgrade your kernel without rebooting, like QNX...

Re:Saving State (1)

pepsee (6891) | more than 13 years ago | (#386740)

It seems to me that you'd only have to boot the very core features and just load the rest off the memory dump on the drive as you need them, as opposed to reading the whole thing on startup.

That's what demand paging is for. Any modern operating system with virtual memory should be able to do that.

old news (1)

Anusmouth_Cowherd (321219) | more than 13 years ago | (#386743)

e.g. how long does it take to boot a palm pilot?

basically, to paraphrase:
ram access is faster than hd access.

© 2001 Anusmouth_Cowherd.

Would be like broadband's effect on 'net access (1)

Jucius Maximus (229128) | more than 13 years ago | (#386744)

The effect of something like this could be anticipated with an analogy:

Remember, before you had broadband how you would wait for a lengthy list of this-to-do to accumulate before you dialed up and went online? I'm sure that this is ancient history to all of us, but think about what broadband did. No dialup at all, (or nearly instantaneous dialup). Instantaneous access. It caused a metamorphasis in the way that we use the net. Our entire perception of how we should use it, and our useage patterns themselves changed drastically. It became integrated into our lives instead of being an auxilary component that we hooked into every now and then.

This near-instant boot time, if popularized, could both spell new growth for linux and computers in general. It would integrate them into people's (ie the general populace's) lives in a way never really achieved before. It would be very cool. ;-)

Just a thought.

FYI: I'm using a 31.2 connection right now. It's the best I can get in my area.

O'Toole's Commentary on Murphy's Law:

Re:MRAM? (1)

Tony-A (29931) | more than 13 years ago | (#386745)

Core memory.
Magnetic cores with interlaced wires. Bulky, slow, and expensive. If you laugh about 640k "being enough", think about 64k byte mainframes.

Re:Any Linux have hybernate? (2)

spankenstein (35130) | more than 13 years ago | (#386746)

Actually on my laptop Windows ME boots faster than it comes out of hibernation.

On my old laptop I could use 'apm --suspend' and leave it like that for days, so far this new Toshiba 2805-S201 isn't coming back from a suspend in Linux (let me know if you see anything about it).

I cant wait! (1)

Mr. Flibble (12943) | more than 13 years ago | (#386747)

This will rock when it finally goes live. I remember reading the older /. article about a Linux bios (using VIA chipset I believe?) and the problem that they encountered was the system booted to fast for the drives to come online.

It would be nice though to have all my newer computers boot as fast as my 286.

Its wierd really, my 286 will boot into DOS faster than any of my newer computers will boot Linux, Windows, or BSD. What the hell is that?

(Yes yes, I know its all about hardware detection loading daemons, etc etc etc. It still feels like a throwback when a 286 and an IBM PS/2 boot faster than anything else modern.)

Re:Sounds great! (1)

NotTheAntiChrist (119853) | more than 13 years ago | (#386748)

That may be, but check out LOBOS (linux boots linux) which takes care of that problem. Also work is being done on a general elf image booter withing the project as well.

Re:Imagine a beowulf cluster of these! (4)

ksheff (2406) | more than 13 years ago | (#386749)

Go to their site and read some of the pages. This started at Los Alamos _for_ their Beowulf clusters exactly for that reason.

Re:why use linux? (1)

n3bulous (72591) | more than 13 years ago | (#386750)

You mean like empeg [] ?

Re:Is this useful for us regular Linux users? (1)

zmooc (33175) | more than 13 years ago | (#386751)

Like the article which you've obviously not read, says: it boots MUCH faster. I think that's useful for regular Linux users. It's really useful if you want to make a diskless box that doesn't need a network to boot from, but that's maybe a bit less interesting for regular users.

consider this... (1)

brad3378 (155304) | more than 13 years ago | (#386752)

If you could replace the BIOS with Linux, then I guess you could accurately say that it would be possible to run windows and linux simultaneously (without emulation)

Re:What's the point? (5)

ksheff (2406) | more than 13 years ago | (#386753)

This would be useful in building internet/compute appliances with standard PC motherboards. People have come to expect a device to be on instantly when they hit the power button. How successful do you think a modern TV would be if it took 20-30 seconds before the user could do anything? In their case, they wanted to have the ability to add a compute node to their Beowulf cluster, turn it on, and have it ready for work in a few seconds.

Re:Useful for Windows, maybe... (2)

rve (4436) | more than 13 years ago | (#386757)

My PC is noisy. I can't sleep if I leave it on overnight.

Re:Is this useful for us regular Linux users? (1)

Zarquon (1778) | more than 13 years ago | (#386761)

Have you ever worked on a machine with 2 or more scsi controllers, and 512 MB+ of RAM? This is being worked on in relation to their beowulf cluster; believe me, it takes the nodes in our cluster at least 2 minutes to complete a RAM check and a basic bus scan (which is done a 2nd time when the SCSI module is loaded). And they are planning on upgrading the boxes to a GIG apiece.. argh.

(Oh, and moderators: YES, beowulf clusters are on topic in this article :) )

Now that you are replacing BIOS (5)

Mekanix (127309) | more than 13 years ago | (#386762)

... how about replacing this really stupid, crappy and annoying partition-scheme that seems to cripple the x86-architecture?

Primary, extended... etc. ... what *is* that?

I *really* miss the way Amiga did it. Partition your drive as you see fit. Use *naming* instead of numbering of partitions. Remove, add, split, join partition without affecting the other partitions and needs to reconfigur (eg. hda9 suddenly become hda8 or hda10 or something).

Just my 2 cents....

Hard drive Content Control (4)

Odinson (4523) | more than 13 years ago | (#386764)

I've noticed the absence of discussion of the HDCC threat.

If such a thing went through, having a open source bios image to flash might be the only thing that saves us from Dumb/Prejudical/Just-Plain-Evil(TM) HD access restictions.

EX: The BIOS refuses see LILO in the boot sector...

Trivial now, Vital Later.

Great for Embedded systems.. (2)

jcc (55702) | more than 13 years ago | (#386765)

Nobody seemd to mention that LinuxBios could be a big plus on embedded systems and internet appliances.

We can't just think about geeks who keep their computers on all the time, but other folks who might be switching them on and off several times a day, and for different system designs where fast bootup is a big plus. Things that people may not think of as a "computer," like Tivo, etc.

Also, being able to boot to a more flexible maintennance state, including network, and a bash prompt, even if the hard disk fails.

Use your imagination!

Re:Sounds great! (1)

giberti (110903) | more than 13 years ago | (#386766)

Gotta start somewhere, its usually some random thing that we discover how to do first, then we take a step back look at it... think, man thats cool, but what if it could _________ and then we make that work. That's how most technology has gotten to where it is now anyway. So think of this as step 1, a working prototype, showing us a window of things to come.

Re:What's the point? (1)

Fjodor42 (181415) | more than 13 years ago | (#386767)

Well, living in a flat with a most bizarre electrical circuit (we hired an electrician to just tell us, how it was set up, and he looked, laughed, shook his head and said "no way") sometimes means "rebooting" (does anyone have a cheap UPS or three for sale? I'm a student). Also, the AC outlet in the Danish trains flicker, if the train brakes or accelerate too hard. Not good on an old laptop with no more battery (yes, I know fsck takes some time after that).
Am I wrong, or does Linux not depend on the bios detection for hardware (it could be only HDD geometry, that's where I read it)?
But in the end, yes, you could deem it useless, but never underestimate the argument "because we can, damn it" :-)

Of course ... (2)

taniwha (70410) | more than 13 years ago | (#386768)

But why use hibernate - that still has to read all the memory off the disk - since it's done in the BIOS it's OS independant - while I could use it my 3 yr old DELL/redhat/KDE system just suspends - virtual instant-on - batterys last days in suspend state (but it lives in the dock anyway when I don't use it) - only time I ever truely hibernate it is when I'm oing on a plane

Re:Useful for Windows, maybe... (3)

FFFish (7567) | more than 13 years ago | (#386769)

I figure turning the computer off is the worst thing you can do to it.

When does a lightbulb burn out?

When you turn it on, of course. They seldom burn out when they're up to, ah, speed.

Same thing with electronic gear. That first millisecond of power-on is a bit of a strain on everything, and the first few minutes of getting everything up to running temperatures is another stressor.

Might as well leave the poor thing running...

[he says, thinking that perhaps his ACPI thingamagummy is probably actually powering off the drives (they spin down, fer sure) and putting the CPU into a heavy-duty sleep cycle... and the monitor power-saving feep probably lets it all cool down a heckuva lot, too...)


Possible improvement (1)

The Man (684) | more than 13 years ago | (#386770)

While this is a cool idea, I think I'd rather have an OpenBoot implementation. That would take a nice chunk out of the suckiness of peecees. Unfortunately it also requires duplicating a good portion of the work that has already been done in linux - ie writing drivers for the various bootable devices, since unlike in a real OBP system they will not have their own fcode drivers and must be emulated. Still, the knowledge they are building for this could later be used for something like that. Basically instead of booting linux, they would bring up an ok prompt. Alternately, I suppose, one could simply write a userland OBP emulator and run that as init. Then much of the work could be eliminated. Why OBP? It's a nice environment, and a familiar one for many people.

We need something like this. (1)

jregel (39009) | more than 13 years ago | (#386774)

Perhaps this is the first step in geting something like OpenFirmware running on a PC. My only experience with this sort of thing is with the PROM on SPARC hardware - very powerful and flexible. Having the ability to perform all sorts of queries and tuning before the OS even boots is a great asset.

Even if it got around the legacy 1024 cyliner limit etc that the BIOS imposes, then it's worth having IMHO.

linuxbios not the only guys that can do this. (2)

ppetrakis (51087) | more than 13 years ago | (#386777)

API Networks ( has built this same capibility for their dual 833 Alpha CS20 1 U server. Which includes a flash managment/failsafe/diagnostics firmware (that fits in under 200k) called "Alpha Diagnostics Environment" or ADE for short. So for example if you say burn a bad kernel you can still just start your system and enter ADE and flash in a new one. You can also write to flash from Linux. Makes firmware upgrades and kernel changes alot more convenient. Average boot time on a box that doesnt have to do a VGA bios init is under 10 secs. From power on to login prompt.

Palm starts fast? What about Macintosh circa 1990? (1)

allotrope (307167) | more than 13 years ago | (#386787)

I've read that a Mac Classic had 512Kb of ROM. If one held down certain keys on POST it would boot system 6 in a couple seconds. Does anyone know if this is really true? If it is it must have been the only Mac that could perform this feat.

Re:Useful for Windows, maybe... (1)

Skyfire (43587) | more than 13 years ago | (#386788)

or theirs the problem that i sleap in the same room with my computer, makes it really noisy to try to go to sleep...

Re:why use linux? (1)

fliplap (113705) | more than 13 years ago | (#386789)

Because no one is just going to GIVE me a consumer device just to play mp3s, someone will on the other hand GIVE me an old P233 that i can stick behind the stereo and control from a couple cgi-scripts

Re:Useful for Windows, maybe... (3)

ocie (6659) | more than 13 years ago | (#386790)

That may be true, but I found that in my apartment, leaving the computer on 24/7 accounts for a full 1/3 of my power usage. No reason to waste that power.

Re:Sounds great! (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 13 years ago | (#386791)

The problem, as I see it, is that this BIOS can *ONLY* boot Linux, since you flash the kernel image into the boot ROM. This would mean you couldn't dual boot (even different versions of Linux) without reflashing your BIOS every time.

And people think MS clobbering the MBR is bad...

Re:Useful for Windows, maybe... (1)

rtscts (156396) | more than 13 years ago | (#386792)

Why would you need it for Linux, though

How about just for being "pure"? As it says, PC BIOS' do so much bullshit that's only relevant for real mode DOS, we don't need that shit, so piss it off.

Re:Useful for Windows, maybe... (2)

einstein (10761) | more than 13 years ago | (#386793)

I can't sleep without my computer on. the noise is so comforting. once, during a power outage, I just tossed and turned, without falling asleep due to the lack of noise. perhaps running a fairly noise machine in my room since high school and having 2 servers in my living room, and sitting in front of a computer at work has made me so used to the noise that the lack of it just drives me batty

Re:Useful for Windows, maybe... (2)

eXtro (258933) | more than 13 years ago | (#386794)

It depends on the efficiency of the devices. A lightbulb isn't designed to radiate infrared energy, its designed to radiate energy in the visible light spectrum. Yes, infrared energy is radiated, but thats waste energy (which could be put to use).

A furnace is designed to be most efficient at radiating infrared energy. Other wavelengths are emitted but again they're just waste.

If you really believe that the amount of energy used by leaving on a lightbulb (or computer, or blender etc) continuously is offset by the furnace being operated on a lower duty cycle you're wrong. Just as wrong as if you insisted you don't need lights in the winter since the furnace is on and emitting visible light radiation.

If this ever becomes untrue I'll fully expect to live in an EZ-bake house.

I don't believe you! (1)

BlowCat (216402) | more than 13 years ago | (#386795)

I doubt that you are really talking about hibernation. Where on the disk does your system save the memory? Is it a separate partition? Or is your BIOS supposed to restore memory by reading files from an ext2 partition?

Sleeping with computers.... (1)

TheOnlyCoolTim (264997) | more than 13 years ago | (#386796)

The noise doesn't bother me, its all the damn LEDS...

With all the stuff in my room, there will be 3 LEDs from my DSL modem, 5 on my Linksys Router (more if other people have their computers on), and 1 from my NIC (my box's power and HDD LEDs are disconnected.. who needs them when you can tell by the sound of the fans or the Hard disks?)... Which makes that corner of my room relatively bright, it gets annoying sometimes....


Re:Any Linux have hybernate? (3)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 13 years ago | (#386797)

Linux doesn't need to hibernate if the machine's BIOS supports it. My vaio ran Slackware Linux for almost a year and I used the hibernate feature all the time. I simply invoked the key combo for suspend-to-disk and all was well.

Beyond that, there is a patch for the 2.2 kernel called "swsusp" IIRC. It allows the kernel to suspend itself to disk by flushing all its buffers and writing process memory out to the swap file. When the machine reboots, the kernel recognizes a special signature on the swap file and reinitializes from where it was suspended. Last I checked, this hadn't been ported to 2.4 yet.

Yes, this is nice. (1)

Kev Vance (833) | more than 13 years ago | (#386798)

I run this on my old NEC Versa laptop. As long as you make the hibernation partition before you setup your linux partition, it works just fine. In the BIOS setup, I have hibernation as the default suspend. Linux behaves very nicely, shutting down and restoring PCMCIA, sound, etc. I even got around to setting up a default action for the gkrellm [] battery monitor that runs "xscreensaver --activate && apm --suspend" when you click on it. This way, the next time someone pops open the laptop, X will be locked.

Re:Useful for Windows, maybe... (4)

istartedi (132515) | more than 13 years ago | (#386812)

It sounds like you're coming from a server mentality, where uptime is a big concern. Most home users treat their computers like their TVs.

Todays computers are, with regards to starting, where the old black-n-white vacuum tube Philco TVs were. They took a while to warm up.

At some point in the future, people will reminisce over how computers used to take a minute to "boot up". Actually, as computing has progressed, boot times have been an on and off problem (no pun intended). The old 8-bit home machines loaded the OS from ROM and booted up virtually in an instant. In an ironic twist, the introduction of inexpensive hard drives for home PCs probably caused a big step backwards in terms of boot up time. It became cheaper to just load the OS from the HD. At some point, we'll figure out a way to have our cake and eat it too. I'm thinking that cheap, fast solid-state hard drives would be a great thing.

By then, computers will be so established that nobody will talk about operating systems anymore. What OS you run will matter as much as the details of the circuits in your TV. They will all perform about the same, and everybody will know how to build them so that they run with approximately the same reliability. That kind of puts the whole "free vs. proprietary" software debate in perspective. Given time, it simply won't matter because all technology tends to march slowly towards commoditization anyway.

This is really useful. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#386813)

You can actually fit a complete OS into a 2MB compressed filesystem. It would be great if I could boot strait to a rescue mode in the case of hardware failure and still have access to basic UNIX commands.

Not to mention the ability to boot from any device connected to the computer / any network protocol.

I can see a lot of uses for fast booting with inexpensive motherboards in appliances. I simply don't want my washing machine or digital VCR or even my own workstation to take 30 seconds before it is ready. When I sit down at my workstation and press the on button I want the computer to be sitting at an X windows prompt by the time the monitor warms up.

I installed Linux to an HP server that had a 2 minute install, funky scsi devices and a bad CDROM drive and it took hours to get it all debugged thanks to the agonizingly slow BIOS.

Re:Palm starts fast? What about Macintosh circa 19 (1)

buysse (5473) | more than 13 years ago | (#386814)

Mac Classics, I think it was Command-Option-N-O... or something like that. Apple's original idea was for this to be used in labs and such, never needing hard drives... it loaded the appletalk stack and a System 6 derivative from ROM.

Kinda cool to do, though. It did only take about 5 seconds to boot to that... then again, loading System 6.0.7 from the hd would only take a few seconds with almost no extensions anyway.

Yes, I used to be a Macintosh user. Now I'm a UNIX user who's posting this from a Winblows box. I miss my Mac.

Re:Any Linux have hybernate? (2)

swillden (191260) | more than 13 years ago | (#386815)

I love the fast boot from hibernation, especially when battery time is already less than a transcontinental flight.

You must not have much memory in your laptop <grin>. Mine has 512MB of RAM and it takes W2K much longer to read/write that half gig that it does just to boot normally. Think about it, it's common for drives to deliver 3-4 MB per second of throughput. Divide 512 by that and you get 2-3 minute boot times. Not fast.

Oh, and yes I do need that much RAM.

Re:Whats the point. (1)

Zebbers (134389) | more than 13 years ago | (#386816)

i highly doubt the code is gone...just buried deeper.

Re:What's the point? (1)

theMAGE (51991) | more than 13 years ago | (#386817)

How successful do you think a modern TV would be if it took 20-30 seconds before the user could do anything?

Very successful, I can assure you. I know some people with higher uptimes on their TV's that their Windows boxen :)

Re:I don't believe you! (1)

taniwha (70410) | more than 13 years ago | (#386818)

My Dell does it in the Dos partition - I left a mimimal DOS partition around for this and made a big save-to-disk file in it - that's all you need for older BIOS's

Re:Palm starts fast? What about Macintosh circa 19 (2)

green pizza (159161) | more than 13 years ago | (#386819)

I've got my old Mac 512K (1985) in the closet these days... pull it out every now and then to show off boot times. My MacWrite/MacPaint floppy (which also has a System Folder on it) boots to fully functional Finder (the Mac desktop) in about 7 seconds after the power switch is flicked on. Not too shabby.

Re:Is this useful for us regular Linux users? (1)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 13 years ago | (#386820)

I DID read the article. Yes, the BIOS boots in 3 seconds. However, that doesn't mean that the computer is up and running in 3 seconds! You must still load up your bootloader and boot your regular OS, just like you usually do. I'll admit that's a pretty fast BIOS, however, that's all it is. It won't make the Windows or Linux boot process go faster. If you have a good fast BIOS already, it won't even provide much benefit in terms of startup time. These guys are doing it because of the flexibility it offers in terms of boot-time configuration, although they do like the increased speed.

[me@localhost]$ prolog
| ?- god.
! Existence error in god/0

Usefulness... (2)

Will The Real Bruce (235478) | more than 13 years ago | (#386821)

Certainly this is cool, and I'm sure it would be very useful for some embedded applications.

However, most serious linux users would gain much more time by switching to reiserfs, or any other journalling filesystem, instead of waiting for ext2 to take an interminable amount of time to fsck its drives, and possibly lose data...

I know. Ask anyone who, say, had a SCSI card go bad on them.

PC Chips motherboards?!? (1)

Knunov (158076) | more than 13 years ago | (#386825)

"We are using PCCHIPS M810LMR mainboard as the development platform."

That figures. The one motherboard I wouldn't recommend to my worst enemy is the one they have this working on. Anyone familiar with hardware can tell you what complete pieces of crap PC Chips motherboards are. Hopefully they'll get the BIOS working on ASUS boards soon.

How about... (4)

silent_poop (320948) | more than 13 years ago | (#386826)

...WinBIOS? "Boot in 3 hours!"


Boot PROM (2)

brad3378 (155304) | more than 13 years ago | (#386828)

Might be cool to see a special boot PROM on a network card. Fool the computer into booting off a chip, but make it think it's booting off another computer on the network.

Might be a tough hack, but it sure would be cool

Thanks (1)

Anusmouth_Cowherd (321219) | more than 13 years ago | (#386830)

Looks like your hard thinking really payed off. Thanks.

© 2001 Anusmouth_Cowherd.

Imagine a beowulf cluster of these! (1)

tobyjaffey (132850) | more than 13 years ago | (#386833)

No, seriously.....
Instant startup, netbooting over virtually any protocol/system, no floppies/hard disks.
Time to flash my BIOS.

Re:Palm starts fast? What about Macintosh circa 19 (2)

IronChef (164482) | more than 13 years ago | (#386837)

I forget which old Mac is was, but you could boot from a system image in ROM with the right kind of Vulcan nerve pinch.

Those PR440FX motherboards they used... (1)

Chagrin (128939) | more than 13 years ago | (#386838)

The ironic part of that writeup was that they used a large chunk of the BIOS memory previously used for an on-screen graphic for the code for their BIOS. Tends to show you how these BIOS-writers prioritize things - so good to hear that open source will help improve the BIOS situation.

I actually purchased two (one went bad) of the PR440FX motherboards like the ones they used. The strange thing is, my BIOS version on bootup is 1.00.01.DI0.T*. It was an auctioned factory pull from a Gateway 2000 computer. Wouldn't I feel like a sucker buying from directly from them?

* Intel docs [] that support this claim

Re:I don't believe you! (1)

daveman_1 (62809) | more than 13 years ago | (#386839)

It has a separate partition. I have a new Thinkpad that came preconfigured with caldera's E-desktop 2.4, which allows hibernating just fine. However, it would appear to be supported by the bios on this machine as well, not just the os.

Reminds me.. (1)

kaoshin (110328) | more than 13 years ago | (#386840)

I read a Linux Journal article a couple of years ago about speeding up the booting process which described some computer that used ROM instead of a hard drive. If I remember correctly, the whole purpose behind that project was using a fast rebooting linux system in aeronautics for situations involving frequent and intermittent power loss.

Hmm.. California also comes to mind :)

Things to Work on. (1)

allknowing (304084) | more than 13 years ago | (#386841)

1. Figure out how to write to NVRAM from Linux on the L440GX. 2. Get SCSI up. 3. Getting CirrusFB to work without a VGA BIOS on the L440GX. 4. Get the Alpha DS10 up. 5. Get the ServerWorks (Dell PowerEdge 2450) board up. This is actually more a ServerWorks NDA issue than a real technical problem. Get these things done, and it'll be set. Any takers?

Do you want all 512M to be saved? (1)

BlowCat (216402) | more than 13 years ago | (#386842)

You probably don't need to save the OS buffers. The cache could (and should!) be flushed before hibernation. But I understand you have no control over the sources of the OS you are running.

Great! Apple in trouble again. Sorry! (1)

RottenApple (10663) | more than 13 years ago | (#386843)

Well, I've read an article which mentioned about Apple's fast boot feature in MacOS X.
They want to have their OS on instantly.( after sleep? )

But this Linux BIOS looks a little better to me.
It's aiming for quick boot.
Am I wrong?

Try Linux on a PC/104 (2)

ddstreet (49825) | more than 13 years ago | (#386844)

I want it to work like my CD and DVD player - turn it on, and a few seconds later it is ready to go.

I set up a PC/104 with Linux, it booted (from its Solid State disc) in about 10-15 seconds.

Check out the PC/104 website [] .

Re:I don't believe you! (1)

mattdm (1931) | more than 13 years ago | (#386845)

What's not to believe? This works fine with Toshiba laptops too. (They use unpartitioned space at the end of the drive.)


MRAM? (2)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 13 years ago | (#386846)

Isn't MRAM (Magnetic RAM) supposed to do away with the booting procedure? From what I understand, you turn off the computer and whatever's in memory stays there, as it is magnetically. Which would (I assume), reduce the booting time to damn near nothing. Can anyone verify this?

Re:Useful for Windows, maybe... (1)

bigbadwlf (304883) | more than 13 years ago | (#386847)

I wish I could only reboot every kernel upgrade... my power goes out more often than that

Chip Sets (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#386848)

This looks fascinating. To fully appreciate it, I would proabably need to read lots of stuff with incredibly tiny print. I can feel the headache coming on now ;-)

Seriously, I wonder how this would handle all of the various chip sets out there. There are enough variations in hardware configs that I wonder how much of it needs to be handled in the bios, and how much can be set aside until you start loading drivers?

Whats the point. (1)

robert-porter (309405) | more than 13 years ago | (#386849)

This would alot cooler for windows, it would actulay be used alot.

Possible App... (1)

TeldakSS (265917) | more than 13 years ago | (#386850)

Cheap notebooks with even cheaper batteries only used to take notes and stuff. I wonder if the shutdown time would be quick enough. Run bash, and Vi or emacs.

Is this useful for us regular Linux users? (1)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 13 years ago | (#386851)

Maybe I'm missing something, but what is the point of replacing your BIOS with Linux? My BIOS already works fine. That is to say, it boots. What more do you need from a BIOS?
There might be specialized applications where this is useful, but is there any reason why us normal Linux users should care?

[me@localhost]$ prolog
| ?- god.
! Existence error in god/0

3 seconds?... (2)

SpanishInquisition (127269) | more than 13 years ago | (#386852)

But I want it now!


Any Linux have hybernate? (5)

Speare (84249) | more than 13 years ago | (#386853)

Maybe I've been out of the Linux distro comparison charts, but do any of the Linux kernels or distributions have hibernate support?

(Hibernate: all power goes off, and the hard drive's boot sector is set to load memory and processor state directly from a memory mapped chunk of the disk, avoiding all the individual component loading time.)

My laptop's now a few months old, and I have never truly rebooted it: every day I just open the lid and up pops Windows 2000, right where I left it. It's never bluescreened(*). I use a 11Mbps wireless LAN to read in bed. I love the fast boot from hibernation, especially when battery time is already less than a transcontinental flight.

(*) It's the drivers that'll kill Windows 95/98/NT/2K. The system isn't well-written to deal with shitty third parties like ATI, but a laptop's setup is pretty simple and doesn't depend on flaky bizarre upgrades of drivers all the time. Months of uptime (minus hibernate at night and driving), no bluescreen.

3 second boot (3)

ultrapenguin (2643) | more than 13 years ago | (#386854)

I have a old ppro200 server which uses MrBios, and it takes approximately 0.5 seconds to go through post and start booting. Linux kernel takes another few seconds. This is not much of an improvement. Most BIOS's that come with new computers these days are too slow and show a lot of crap during post, which can't be disabled. Check out [] , they make replacement bioses for a lot of different motherboards, and they usually have a lot more options to tune for a particular chipset, etc

Re:Sleeping with computers.... (1)

PSUdaemon (204822) | more than 13 years ago | (#386858)

My girlfriend got my one of those cool windows and blue neon lights from think geek [] for my computer. Now at night the whole corner of the room just glows blue. I recomend getting one of these for every computer...

That and I have 6 fans in the case, and one of them has a bad bearing I think.

Re:Useful for Windows, maybe... (1)

Roblimo (357) | more than 13 years ago | (#386859)

An "instant boot" in Linux combined with a journaling file system would be perfect for laptops.

- Robin

Re:Is this useful for us regular Linux users? (1)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 13 years ago | (#386862)

Well, if you were booting Linux anyway, I suppose you wouldn't need the bootloader step. However, if you weren't, you would still need the bootloader. And it STILL doesn't provide a gigantic speedup unless you have a slow BIOS to start with. Why? Because the bootloader step is fast anyway! 1-2 seconds! This doesn't get around the fact that you still need to mount your filesystems, load drivers, start cron, apache, X, etc. THAT's the time-consuming part of booting your computer.

Also, there are good reasons to boot a seperate kernel from the hard drive even if you're going into Linux anyway. If you plan to upgrade your kernel sometimes, it might not be a good idea to keep flashing your BIOS all the time. Flash memory has a limited number of writes before it wears out. Keeping the kernel on the hard drive and using a bootloader would probably be a good idea in this case.

I don't know how much room there is in BIOS memory, either. The kernel booted from the BIOS might not have all the options compiled in that you'd want in order to keep size down. Then you'd have to boot a seperate kernel as well.

Once again, I don't see how this would provide a really significant speedup. 5-8 seconds shaved off, maybe, but this is NOT instant booting.

[me@localhost]$ prolog
| ?- god.
! Existence error in god/0

VCR, Microwave, oven, linux boxen, washing machine (1)

manplusdog (145050) | more than 13 years ago | (#386863)

I _never_ turn them off, why would you?

Re:Useful for Windows, maybe... (1)

am 2k (217885) | more than 13 years ago | (#386866)

When does a lightbulb burn out?
When you turn it on, of course.

Hrm... My last one burnt out while it was turned on. Began to blink, and then it was dark...

But turning on is a strain for a power supply, because the capacitors are a short circuit for a few msec, that's true.

Re:Useful for Windows, maybe... (1)

Halcyon-X (217968) | more than 13 years ago | (#386867)

Why just make it easier for Windows to reboot? If you truly wanted to improve things for Windows users, you would make it so they didn't have to reboot.

However, you're right, it would be useful for Windows users as, on average, most of them don't keep their systems running. I doubt a normal family computer would stay on 24/7.

Re:Any Linux have hybernate? (2)

Fervent (178271) | more than 13 years ago | (#386868)

I've got around 256MB for my Windows 2000 box, and hibernate comes up about twice as fast as a normal boot.

It depends, too, if you change the hardware configuration while the machine is hibernating. I'm under the understanding that Windows 2000 resolves all hardware issues (like a removed PCMCIA card or DVD-ROM drive) while it's coming out of hibernation, which adds a few seconds.

Re:Useful for Windows, maybe... (2)

LinuxGeek (6139) | more than 13 years ago | (#386869)

LinuxBIOS is much more than just a fast way to get through the boot process. Much work has been put into supporting the 8meg Disk-on-Chip flash technology. You can have a nice Linux router that uncompresses the kernel and minimal filesystem into ramdisk. Bingo, linux router with no moving parts other than fans.

SiS has been very helpful with information without pounding on the NDAs. The 630 and 730 are very well supported chipsets and would make very nice platforms for things like a MP3 player for my car. I was thinking about one that had two or three CD readers as the only fragile storage medium.

Re:How about... (2)

mdw2 (122737) | more than 13 years ago | (#386870)

shouldn't that be "WinBIOS, boots every 3 hours, whether you want it or not" :-)

Re:Useful for Windows, maybe... (3)

Sabalon (1684) | more than 13 years ago | (#386871)

Why would you need it for Linux, though? I mean, who reboots more than once every major kernel upgrade?

I've been wanting to make a few projects based around linux, such as home mp3 player, car mp3 player, xxxxxx mp3 player - get the idea :)

These components would not always be on. The only thing that has kept me from doing it, other than laziness, is the fact that I don't wanna wait forever to start using the device. I want it to work like my CD and DVD player - turn it on, and a few seconds later it is ready to go.
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