OpenSuse 10.3 Beta 1 was released recently. Now first results of the boot time improvements are available.
Earlier this year OpenSuse’s Boot Time group was formed to improve the boot time of future OpenSuse versions. Quite soon they developed the plan to not rework the basic system like Ubuntu does it with Upstart but to introduce parallelization and improved scripts. And the results look pretty nice: with 27 seconds instead of 55 seconds OpenSuse now boots almost twice as fast as previous versions.
Stephan Kulow, one of the main forces behind this development, said that main time improvements were done by dropping zmd, moving the firewall configuration to the time were you really need it and improved pre-load lists:
I also optimized the preload lists so that we only preload stuff that specifically improves the boot time
However, future improvements will only be able with non-trivial changes because all trivial things are done by now. The next step will be to introduce a process which makes clear that all important boot data are neatly lined up after each other physically on the hard disk – in other words, OpenSuse will introduce a defragmenting process. According to Stephan Kulow the boot time is delayed by up to 30 seconds after a couple of system updates, making it necessary to reorder the files again.
Funny to see that OpenSuse will get defragmentation, something which was always laughed at in the Linux world 😉
But to be honest this should be done by the file system itself, not by a user space program, and that is the core of the problem: there is no file system available at the moment which can really handle such tasks on the fly. So defragmentation should only be a solution for the short term, in the long term the file system (here: ext3) should be replaced by something new (think of ZFS or Btrfs here).