Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Linux boots in 2.97 seconds

Eat your heart out, Microsoft

SOFTWARE ENGINEERS at Japan's embedded Linux software vendor Lineo announced technology last week that can boot a low-power computer system within 2.97 seconds, the company claims.

Lineo calls its quick-start software system Warp 2, apparently either never having heard of IBM's ill-fated and abandoned OS/2 Warp operating system or not being particularly superstitious.

The company says Warp 2 consists of a bootloader, a customised Linux software stack, and a 'hibernation driver' similar to familiar suspend-to-disk software. Lineo's innovation is that its hibernation driver writes a snapshot of RAM into flash memory instead of to a hard disk.

The Warp 2 implementation is reportedly able to save multiple alternative system snapshots to enable rebooting either into a clean startup environment or to a previously saved session.

The hibernation driver is also capable of compressing the saved RAM image by about 50 per cent, depending upon what it contains. One of its demonstration tests reduced a 32MB RAM image to 19MB, Lineo claims.

In benchmark tests using an ARM CPU, a small low-power system running Warp 2 – with Linux, an X display subsystem, the tiny window manager twm and three xterm command line shells – booted an uncompressed 18.3MB RAM image in 2.97 seconds. Reportedly the system booted the same test suite from a compressed 6.8MB RAM image in 3.17 seconds.

Nearly instant-on Linux based systems are becoming common throughout the PC industry.

ASUS announced last May that it had begun preloading a BIOS flash embedded Linux and web browser system, called Express Gate, with all of the computer motherboards it ships.

That technology is based on DeviceVM Splashtop, which HP and Lenovo are reportedly also adopting. Dell Latitude On is a Montavista Linux system that runs on a separate ARM CPU. Not to be outdone, Toshiba and Intervideo have Linux based quick-boot systems too.

Moreover, the best-selling segment of the PC market now is netbooks – lightweight, small notebook style PCs that can handle light web browsing, email, photos and even streaming audio and video, practically as well as larger laptop and desktop PCs. Reportedly up to 25 per cent of netbooks run Linux, and Linux based fast-boot technology is ideally suited for the way people use those systems.

After all, no one needs to lug around a bulky laptop loaded down with heavyweight legacy software just to wibble the web, manage their email and photos, use their work-related, cloud-based software applications, and keep up with their social not-working addictions.

Less than two weeks ago Jim Zemlin, the executive director of the Linux Foundation, took note of all these developments and predicted that Linux will outship Windows next year.

That's not only possible but likely, we think, given that it looks like Linux will be shipping on a lot of PCs that are also loaded with Windows, and considering the better reliability and security, ease of use, and lower costs of Linux based systems, especially on netbooks.

The giant Vole of Redmond seems to be turning into an aging, slow dinosaur, surrounded by a quickly growing population of faster, smaller, and more agile little Linux mammals. ยต

No comments: