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Moblin 2 First Impressions 100

Posted by kdawson
from the fast-boot-coming-to-a-distro-near-you dept.
nerdyH notes a DesktopLinux.com first look at the alpha of Intel's Moblin 2 toolkit for Linux distributors to create distributions for netbooks and other Atom-based kit. "A lot of notebooks and even netbooks these days run Windows, but also offer a minimalist Linux environment that boots in seconds. Now, with the Intel-sponsored Moblin project's alpha release of Moblin 2 Monday, it looks like insanely fast boots will become a standard feature of full-featured Linux desktops, too. Some of the quick-booting environments out there are enough to give anyone a lasting hatred of Linux. Like those free bicycles that liberal, well-intentioned municipalities release into the wild from time to time, hoping to get drivers out of their cars, fast-boot Linux is probably doing more to harm than help the cause. But pretty soon, even full-featured Linux will boot in seconds. That's because Intel's built some mighty whizzy read-ahead boot technology into Moblin 2."
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Moblin 2 First Impressions

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  • Bicycles what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bodrius (191265) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @09:19PM (#26681197) Homepage

    Like those free bicycles that liberal, well-intentioned municipalities release into the wild from time to time, hoping to get drivers out of their cars, fast-boot Linux is probably doing more to harm than help the cause.

    Uh? Can we moderate the story itself as Off-Topic?

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Are you kidding? This bicycle bit is very on topic. I used to live in a town with those green bicycles, and I'd often arrive at my destination with a seat stem up my ass. Granted, I tended to chose bicycles with no seat, and I blamed George Bush for this at the time, but not I realize that it was probably Rush Limbaugh. Now, this is exactly how people feel when they boot an a poorly implemented Linux fast-boot netbook, except they probably blame gnus or eunuchs.

      • by asdfx (446164)

        that rant was rant-tastic. i give you a gold-rant-star and offer you my con-rant-ulations for your rant-fullness.

    • by rolfwind (528248) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @10:13PM (#26681449)

      You obviously don't understand the nuance of the story's analogy. Well-intentioned liberals often want to release bicycles in the wild so that the bike population breeds and grows over time; it's a well-known fact that bicycles don't breed in captitivity. However, bikes will start breeding too fast, and before you know it they'll start having more and more encounters with humans to catastrophic effect - in the denser areas of bicycle territory, you'll even see people get so desperate as to try to ride them, in a manner similiar to a horse, in order to tame them. This is obviously the law of unintended consequences.

      Compare this to Linux. Right now, it's slow to wake up. Well-intentioned liberals see this lethargy as another sign of Linux captivity. They also want to see the population of linux grow. So, they come up with the bright idea to make linux less lethargic: if they wake up faster it means they'll have more energy. If they have more energy, linuxes will breed more often. Thus, it seems to the liberal, that fast boot up is desirable as to achieve this similiar end goal.

      But the law of unintended consequences strike again! Many linuxes are in family homes, and their owners don't want to them to breed more. There'd be all types of trouble: imagine if the linux was at home and all it could breed with in its harmonal state was a Windows? Remember the Lindows travesty of years past?

  • OpenedHand (Score:5, Informative)

    by camcorder (759720) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @09:20PM (#26681199)
    Maybe it's better to note that Intel recently acquired OpenedHand [o-hand.com] and OpenedHand developers joined Intel Open Source Labs in order to work on Moblin platform. This looks like the first fruit of this acquisition.
  • X windows (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hal_Porter (817932) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @09:29PM (#26681233)

    http://lwn.net/Articles/299483/ [lwn.net]

    X is still problematic. "We had to do a lot of damage to X," Arjan said. Some of the work involved eliminating the C compiler run by re-using keyboard mappings, but other work was more temporary. The current line of X development, though, puts more of the hardware detection and configuration into the kernel, which should cut the total startup time. Since part of the kernel's time budget is already spent waiting for hardware to initialize, and it can initialize more than one thing at a time, it's a more efficient use of time to have the kernel initialize the video hardware at the same time it does USB and ATA. X developer Keith Packard, in the audience and also an Intel employee, offered help. Setting the video mode in the kernel would not let the kernel initialize it at the same time as the rest of the hardware, as shown in figure 3. The fast-booting system does not use GDM but boots straight to a user session, running the XFCE desktop environment. Instead of GDM, Arjan said later, a distribution could boot to the desktop session of the last user, but start the screensaver right away. If a different user wanted to log in, he or she could use the screensaver's "switch user" button.

    C Compiler? WTF?

    • Re:X windows (Score:4, Informative)

      by bitMonster (189384) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @09:35PM (#26681261) Homepage
      That should say C preprocessor, I believe.
    • by wtarreau (324106)

      echo -e 'global _start \n _start: \n mov eax, 2 \n int 80h \n jmp _start' > a.asm; nasm a.asm -f elf; ld a.o -o a;

      I like this one, I'm sure there are people who try it from time to time... It's very tempting to say what syscall #2 is, but it would remove temptation :-)

      • echo -e 'global _start \n _start: \n mov eax, 2 \n int 80h \n jmp _start' > a.asm; nasm a.asm -f elf; ld a.o -o a;

        I like this one, I'm sure there are people who try it from time to time... It's very tempting to say what syscall #2 is, but it would remove temptation :-)

        He should have checked the system call return value... it's good programming habit even if it's a prank ;-)

      • by Anonymous Coward
        echo -e 'global _start \n _start: \n mov eax, 2 \n int 80h \n jmp _start' > a.asm; nasm a.asm -f elf; ld a.o -o a;

        I like this one, I'm sure there are people who try it from time to time... It's very tempting to say what syscall #2 is, but it would remove temptation :-)


        You sir, are a forking bastard!
  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @09:45PM (#26681299)

    Being able to boot quickly really, really sucks. It's so much better when you have to wait 10 minutes for your box to boot.

    Wait, what?

    • I don't know about you, but most of my boot time is spent waiting for it to POST and get to the boot menu.

      I've tried Asus boards with ExpressGate, and unfortunately, the POSTing seems to take even longer!

      Of all the computers in my home, the one that boots the fastest is a 1.2ghz VIA Eden Nano-ITX board. Takes about 14-15 seconds to reach the desktop from Power-ON, compared to 30-35 seconds for my other systems. It seems to have quite efficient BIOS code; the POST is done before my LCD monitors flick on, rat

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        My eeePC has something called Boot Booster. I leave a 16mb EFI partition (type code 'ef') as the first partition on my first drive, and the BIOS somehow uses that to skip POST and jump right into the boot loader.

        Your boards MIGHT have something like that, see if adding such a partition (remember has to be partition 1...) does any good.

        That said, this makes getting into the BIOS or boot menu a PITA button mashing fest to try and squeeze the keypress in at just the right moment.

        • Keyboards are meant to be mashed! I pick mine up off woot for $10 per bundle! :P

        • by PReDiToR (687141)
          I can't be bothered getting round the junk filter to list the whole 'fdisk -l /dev/sda' so this is just the last line.

          My 701 (EEE 4G) has the EFI partition as the 4th primary on the SSD.
          /dev/sda4 - - 486 - 486 - 8032+ - ef - EFI - (FAT-12/16/32)
          A lot smaller than 16MB too.

          I don't know if other implementations need it to be #1, but the EEE certainly doesn't.
          • by X0563511 (793323)

            I have an EEE 1000. Mine must be on the first.

            So, I guess that means it's entirely arbitrary.

            Note that 16m is the smallest chunk I can partition on my SSD - exactly one block - I only "need" an 8m partition however.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by tlhIngan (30335)

              I have an EEE 1000. Mine must be on the first.

              So, I guess that means it's entirely arbitrary.

              Note that 16m is the smallest chunk I can partition on my SSD - exactly one block - I only "need" an 8m partition however.

              It depends highly on the BIOS. Some BIOSes like their partition tables to be laid out in a paricular format and sorted in a particular way (there is no standard - some fdisk programs do it first-last, others last-first, others sort them beginning-end, etc). Others check to see if the first partit

        • by hairyfeet (841228)
          Most FoxConn motherboards have a similar feature called "SuperBoot" which does the same trick. That is one of the reasons I have been using their motherboards in my builds. Folks really like that super fast boot up. Can't say that I blame them, because after seeing it in action a couple of times I replaced mine and my oldest Abit boards with new Foxconns. It really is a shame more companies don't offer that feature as it is really nice.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kombipom (1274672)

      I'm pretty sure what they mean is that minimal fast booting distros dished out with netbooks are crap and people equate them to linux and so think linux is crap. Clearly if you can make a full distro boot quickly that's a good thing.

      I've never used a netbook so I can't comment on their distros.

      • Fast booting minimal distros aren't a feature of netbooks; for instance, I don't think any of the EEEs has one, in fact I don't think any of the netbooks released in 2008 does. (Note that some of those come with a full-fledged Linux distribution. This is different from having a secondary "fast-boot" OS.) A few of the upcoming netbooks do. But they're really more of a feature of some high end desktop mainboards and, I think, a couple of normal consumer laptops.

    • Thats why some of us just use suspend. I'm pretty sure that is what it was meant for. The only reason I see this catching on in mainstream distro's is because suspend/hibernate are perpetually too flakey to be relied on.
      • by PiSkyHi (1049584)

        suspend2 on kernel 2.6.24 hit the spot - weeks of daily hibernation no problem - even using ndiswrapper out and in each time. I avoid OpenGL on this machine though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Given I reboot my laptop about once a month, I really wouldn't care if it took my linux forever to load. Though it's only like a minute or so.

      Suspend to disk/ram are useful

    • by dbcad7 (771464)

      Well, I understand your sarcasm.. but the 10 minute thing is a little harsh

      Ahhh the old days, when you measured your penis size by how fast the Doom demo ran.. I am sure that all this boot speed is life or death to the laptop guys.. although I can't imagine how an extra 30 sceonds boot is more important than the speed of the system once it has booted.

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @09:50PM (#26681337) Homepage

    I'm ... confused. From the article:

    fast-boot Linux is probably doing more to harm than help the cause.

    Yeah, because I and everyone I know hates nothing more than being able to boot quickly.

    almost anything would be an improvement over Network Manager.

    What?? Personally, I prefer Network Manager to Vista's networking UI any day.

    In fairness, Network Manager has actually done an amazing job

    Oh, never mind then.

    Yet, what really won me over, in playing around with the Moblin 2 alpha, was the insanely fast boots.

    Wait, are you trying to help or harm the cause?

    Fast boots could be a true advance in the history of computing.

    Oh, I don't know. My Apple ][ booted into the Basic ROM quickly enough.

    Having two OSes, one fast-booting and one slow-booting, is a horrible kludge. It's like a car with two steering wheels, one only for parking.

    Actually it sounds more like having two cars, one that's moving fast and one that's moving slow. But these car analogies always confuse me.

    I think Microsoft may have to really re-think a few things if they are going to compete on boot time with the Linux distros of tomorrow.

    You might be right...

    I don't know how fast Windows 7 is booting

    Oh, never mind then.

    I have a feeling that those declaring it's "mission accomplished" for Windows on netbooks may be getting ahead of themselves just a bit.

    In fact, you could even say they're doing more to harm the cause than help it ... oh I give up.

    • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @10:03PM (#26681393)

      fast-boot Linux is probably doing more to harm than help the cause.

      Yeah, because I and everyone I know hates nothing more than being able to boot quickly.

      I think what the author was trying to say was something like: "The fast-booting versions of Linux are all stripped-down toy systems, thereby giving people the impression that Linux is an immature and feature-limited OS. Thus even though fast-booting Linux is exposing people to Linux, it is doing more harm than good to the overall image/reputation of Linux."

      The wording is confusing, and the point being made (if I understand it correctly) isn't much better.

      • by Mana Mana (16072)
        > I think what the author was trying to say was something like ...

        As of the time of my reply there were 3 "Score:5" replies that all arrived at the same conclusion above.

        Tangentially, I had added for amusement, as I frequently do lately, a keyword. My kw's are understood/popular rarely, that's fine. I do find the winning? kw's tiresome. Hence I have a feature request for the next /. version: (alternative) keyword (sub)set selection.

        I dig when rarely I see someone's offbeat thinking (e.g., donttaste
    • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @10:24PM (#26681491)

      Having two OSes, one fast-booting and one slow-booting, is a horrible kludge. It's like a car with two steering wheels, one only for parking.

      Actually it sounds more like having two cars, one that's moving fast and one that's moving slow.

      The problem the author is incompetantly attempting to define is that the fast booting Linux is often feature limited and that you must reboot into a real linux in order to use real applications.

      It would be like having to pull off to the side of the road shut off the engine, flip a switch to Engine B and then start back up again in order to drive above 40mph in a hybrid. A sacrifice some are willing to make no doubt but like first generation electric cars give the user a bad taste in their mouth and misrepresents the potential of the system.

      • by Larryish (1215510)

        Now they need a hard drive installer for everything that is not included in the boot process, for a single os with the tasty bits loading very fast and the rest on the backend.

        I would pay good money for a fast-booting basic Debian GNU/Linux system with the option to put the rest of the distro on a slice of hard drive for use after boot.

        • I would pay good money for a fast-booting basic Debian GNU/Linux system with the option to put the rest of the distro on a slice of hard drive for use after boot.

          To some degree that's what windows 7 does.

          It boots to desktop and then sets the additional services and applications as low priority processes.

          You can still launch IE, word etc but if you watch the process list it's still often loading low priority features in the background.

          • by Larryish (1215510)

            To some degree that's what windows 7 does.

            Yeah, but I won't pay good money for that.

          • by ikono (1180291)
            So W7 is going to be using something like Start-up Delayer, only (hopefully) doing something with the shitload of svchosts?
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        With lots of RAM and fast multi-core processors, why not start services in parallel?

        Why not make some assumptions during boot? USB printer and Ethernet cable are probably still connected since last time. Probe for them, yes, but get to the desktop right away--- by the time the user prints a document or opens a web browser, DHCP server and printer will have responded.

      • by Raenex (947668)

        The problem the author is incompetantly attempting to define

        You spelled "incompetently" wrong :)

    • by eddy (18759) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @10:26PM (#26681499) Homepage Journal

      Oh, crap. I now get to read articles on computing technology which were written by people who aren't even aware that, once upon a not-so-distant time, you could turn on your computer and be greeted with a cool blue-on-blue READY.-prompt within a second.

      I'm ancient, credz nuked :-(

      On the upside, I did get a cool new .sig:

      --
      "Fast boots could be a true advance in the history of computing."
      -- Henry Kingman, 2009-01-28

      • by Talisman (39902) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @12:02AM (#26681923) Homepage

        "Fast boots could be a true advance in the history of computing."

        -- Henry Kingman, 2009-01-28

        Not to mention footwear.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by smussman (1160103)

        On the upside, I did get a cool new .sig:

        -- "Fast boots could be a true advance in the history of computing." -- Henry Kingman, 2009-01-28

        Fast boots? Haven't we had those for a while [wikipedia.org]?

        • by silanea (1241518)

          Haven't we had those for a while [wikipedia.org]?

          Yeah, but they are not distributed under the GPL, which makes them unusable for Linux, and they are not patentable, which makes them unusable for Microsoft.

          BSD's, give it a shot!

      • Oh, crap. I now get to read articles on computing technology which were written by people who aren't even aware that, once upon a not-so-distant time, you could turn on your computer and be greeted with a cool blue-on-blue READY.-prompt within a second.

        I'm ancient, credz nuked

        On the other hand, us real oldies can remember the time it took to IPL a /360...

  • by tenco (773732) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @10:01PM (#26681387)
    An extrovert which just dumps his stream of consciousness on a webpage. And he even fails to include a link to the project's page he's talking about. Argh! This makes me pulling my hair out.
  • My experiences (Score:5, Informative)

    by HRbnjR (12398) <chris@hubick.com> on Saturday January 31, 2009 @10:18PM (#26681477) Homepage

    I tried to get Moblin working on my MID.

    I couldn't even get the installer to boot (kernel panic).

    I filed a bug ( http://bugzilla.moblin.org/show_bug.cgi?id=197 [moblin.org] ) which, despite being a critical issue, hasn't had so much as a peep out of a developer yet (after several months).

    And just three articles back ( http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/01/31/1859200 [slashdot.org] ) Slashdot is discussing the "Bloody Mess" that is the Intel Poulsbo driver, which it's worth noting, is provided as part of the Moblin project.

    I'm thinking Moblin may need quite some more polish, and that perhaps they may be a little under-staffed?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Omg r u payed bye Micro$uck$ 2 poest dis??????

    • by pembo13 (770295)

      Pity they don't even seem interested with working with Fedora.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I have Fedora (10) on my PC and even I'm not interested in working with it!

        The so-called "glitch-free audio" glitches so bad I have to mute the sound. The "flicker-free video" causes flickers on my screen whenever I scroll a document or even move the mouse. Suspend/hibernate doesn't work reliably. Both Windows XP and OpenSuse work just fine on the machine. It's not just me, check out the Fedora forums.

        Seriously, their QA department has been AWOL for the last couple of releases.

  • Grumble Grumble... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Flakeloaf (321975) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @10:26PM (#26681501) Homepage

    Initially, reviewers met the new technology with a blank stare. One expensive piece of meat later, and they were so happy they could've flickered and vanished right there on the spot.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Seems like the author is not actually aware of how Linux works. Read-ahead has been implemented for a while (there's even a post-boot component similar to Superfetch on Windows).

    This is more likely the continuation of http://lwn.net/Articles/299483/ [lwn.net], where they improved read-ahead with some kernel-based patches among other things, rearranged the process initialization order, etc.

    Also, what's with the wordf**k the author created that I (and I'm pretty sure a lot of other people) had to re-read 5 times befor

    • yeah there are a lot of fastboot patches that got into .28 (unfortunately some did not because despite working they were not elegant enough for linus, but will be reworked for .29/.30, hopefully)

      I think Xorg is the chokepoint in your average distro now, but i hear the intel guess did some work there too :D

  • My experience (Score:5, Informative)

    by erikina (1112587) <eri.kina@gmail.com> on Saturday January 31, 2009 @11:40PM (#26681831) Homepage
    I just have installed and tested the distro with my Acer Aspire One (a supported computer).

    (In dot format here is my experience)
    • Being only 264MB it was quick to download.
    • Transferring to USB was painless, why can't all distros be like this?
    • The "Boot and install" menu was broken. Had to use just the "boot" (and double click later to install)
    • Install was quick and easy
    • Little laptop takes 15 seconds to boot from grub. Which is about half the speed of Ubuntu/Fedora/OpenSUSE
    • New network manager worked very well
    • Limited software choices, but 98% of the stuff you need
    • No proprietary codecs, and not sure how to install (yet)
    • Devel version of firefox (which works really well)

    8/10 Best distro I've tested so far for my notebood

    • Re:My experience (Score:5, Informative)

      by erikina (1112587) <eri.kina@gmail.com> on Saturday January 31, 2009 @11:43PM (#26681851) Homepage
      Oh, one other thing. When installing you need root password. It's "moblin". I spent 10 minutes trying to find out what it was.
      • by Nethead (1563)

        Oh, one other thing. When installing you need root password. It's "moblin". I spent 10 minutes trying to find out what it was.
        Damn! Now I'm going to have to change it.

    • by qw0ntum (831414)
      Not to be pedantic, but just to clarify:

      # Little laptop takes 15 seconds to boot from grub. Which is about half the speed of Ubuntu/Fedora/OpenSUSE

      Do you mean that Ubuntu/Fedora/OpenSUSE boot in 30 seconds, or in 7.5? I think I know the answer, but I just want to be sure.

    • 15 seconds isn't really that fast. My Hackintosh boots from Apple logo to desktop in 20 seconds, and it's full featured.
      • The idea of this project is that 'full featured' Linux, (not some stripped-down, crippled horror) can be made to boot faster, so I'm not sure your comparison is valid.

        • by soleblaze (628864)
          I've gotten a nice, full featured arch install from grub to quiet X in about 8 seconds. Unfortunately the BIOS POST crap takes 9 on my laptop.
    • I installed it on my Dell Mini 9 and agree that the boot times are amazing. Only deal-killer for me was no wi-fi. Went to Ubuntu UMPC for now. Looking forward to when the kinks are ironed out...
    • by renoX (11677)

      15s to boot up to what?

      Linux users tend to measure their boot time when the login prompt comes up and then you have to wait that KDE|Gnome starts for real..

  • Linux DEs (desktop environments) should be made easily scalable for any resolution. Duplicating a completely new DE just for smaller devices seems like a big wasted effort when all you should need perhaps is a pre-configuration option for it, if that (be nicest if it was done automatically).

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