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Improving the Fedora Boot Experience 109

Posted by timothy
from the sir-the-cats-have-three-non-overlapping-ideas dept.
An anonymous reader writes with a link to a recent post on Red Hat senior interaction designer Máirín Duffy's blog with an illuminating look at Red Hat's design process, and how things like graphic elements, widget behavior, and bootup time are taken into account. It starts: "So I have this thing on my desk at Red Hat that basically defines a simple design process. (Yes, it also uses the word 'ideate' and yes, it sounds funny but it is a real word apparently!) While the mailing list thread on the topic at this point is high-volume and a bit chaotic, there is a lot of useful information and suggestions in there that I think could be pulled into a design process and sorted out. So I took 3 hours (yes, 3 hours) this morning to wade through the thread and attempt to do this."
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Improving the Fedora Boot Experience

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I boot my system maybe twice a year.
    What annoys me is not the graphical appearance during the boot, but the lengthy checks of the filesystems on my 6 disks that are run sequentially instead of parallel.
    That is a better thing to work on than nice pictures, IMHO.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sure buddy; sounds like you're running XP. Fedora has well documented average time between kernel panics of 3.4 days.

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        app server:
        Linux .... 2.6.29.6-213.fc11.x86_64 #1 SMP Tue Jul 7 21:02:57 EDT 2009 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

        14:16:03 up 63 days, 21:19, 1 user, load average: 0.15, 0.10, 0.03

        db server:
        Linux .... 2.6.29.6-213.fc11.x86_64 #1 SMP Tue Jul 7 21:02:57 EDT 2009 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

        14:16:37 up 63 days, 21:20, 1 user, load average: 1.86, 1.51, 1.65

        forced a reboot a couple of months ago due to power outage, before that couple stayed up for 184 days.

        • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by davydagger (2566757) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @06:24PM (#43511965)
          long uptimes...

          I saw this argument in another thread. If you have a modern machine with long uptimes, it means your probably not up ot the latest patch.

          I generally reboot my server only when systemd(init), or the kernel is upgraded

          Thats about once every two weeks to a month TOPS. I wouldn't brag about having an unpatched machine.
          • by roman_mir (125474)

            Yeah, those machines are not patched with 'latest patches', correct, so what is your point? I wouldn't want to upgrade kernel or anything on those machines at all.

    • by wjh31 (1372867)
      If you are so keen on uptime to reboot only twice a year then you should be particularly interested in boot time, shortening the boot time could push you from 3 nines to 4!
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 21, 2013 @06:10AM (#43508521)

        I don't get all the hype about uptime.

        My multi-media server easily gets five nines of uptime.

        In fact, over 2012 it was way better than 9.9999% !

    • by pipatron (966506)

      That's been taken care of by modern file systems.

      Also, do you apply security patches to your kernel on-the-fly somehow, or how come you don't have to reboot?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I don't need security patches, I have McAfee.

      • That's been taken care of by modern file systems.

        Also, do you apply security patches to your kernel on-the-fly somehow, or how come you don't have to reboot?

        What is this bait? I mean, really? Every damn time someone mentions uptime?
        Fine. I'll bite. [ksplice.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kwpolska (2026252)
      If 1 disk = 1 partition, then it would be possible. But if your 6 disks contain more than one partition, you will find out that your time savings per disks will be minimum, none or even negative.
    • Not everyone boots their systems "maybe twice a year." Hell, I leave my system running 24/7 and even I reboot a fair number of times more than that. Even if someone reboots for nothing more than kernel updates and otherwise never shuts down, they'll probably still reboot more than twice.

      That said... while I see why they might want to "polish" the boot process and speed it up, I'm still not really sure it's worth it. Whenever I hear about "improving" the boot screen, I fear removing all the information di

    • by daveime (1253762)
      Unless you had 6 independent disk controllers for those 6 disks, what exactly would be the point ?

      You remind me of the old adage about a PHB who discovers the *nix* priority command, and decides to make everything priority 1, so that "everything will run faster".
    • by dbIII (701233)
      That's what thing like ZFS are for and not trying to get the boot sequence to mark a marginal improvement to a necessary function with the file systems you are using.
  • It just needs to be fast IMHO. Anyone else agree?
    • It just needs to be fast IMHO.

      Anyone else agree?

      'Pretty' itself is largely pointless(and tends to be used to obscure actually useful boot-spew); but the ability to achieve it can be a symptom of good things.

      For instance, if you are on a system where kernel mode setting Isn't Quite There Yet, it is fairly likely that 'pretty' won't even be possible, just because of the amount of flailing between the BIOS and early boot mucking around in some legacy VGA mode, and then a bunch of flickering when things eventually get handed to X. It's not so much that anyt

      • by Anonymous Coward

        'Pretty' itself is largely pointless(and tends to be used to obscure actually useful boot-spew); but the ability to achieve it can be a symptom of good things.

        But 'pretty' is important when trying not to scare new users (aka 'non-professional' users) away.

        • by Cenan (1892902)

          This

          To bad it's AC or I would have spent a mod point on it. There is nothing more scary to a non techie than the boot/kernel puking garbage on the screen. And there is no end to the [what's-it-telling-me-now? | should-I-worry? | what-is-it-counting-up/down-for?] support [calls | yells | screams | cries | sobbing].
          Pretty is step 2 of making it onto the everyday consumer's PC. Step 1 would be "just works".

          • by girlinatrainingbra (2738457) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @08:00AM (#43508797)
            re: There is nothing more scary to a non techie than the boot/kernel puking garbage on the screen.
            .
            You are exactly right. The original Mac OSX boot-up experience is a nice clean boot up screen with a few simple small icons flying by. The original Mac OS7 OS8 and OS9 bootups have a happy mac icon centered on the screen and the small icons for the addons on the bottom of the screen.
            .
            Linux boot-ups should have a simple graphical or text based boot up that says just a very few simple things:
            booting up
            checking drives
            starting network
            starting graphics
            tada!

            and allow for the user to hit one of the function keys or a space bar or something to allow for viewing of the detailed boot-up log. Most people don't really need to see all of the details and would certainly be scared by all of the words and labels that they might not understand. This is one area where OSX actually does a better job.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              Why would they be scared?
              Judged by my experience (somewhat limited, I admit) of other people they aren't even scared of error messages if they recur often enough to be considered standard behaviour.

              • Why would they be scared?
                Judged by my experience (somewhat limited, I admit) of other people they aren't even scared of error messages if they recur often enough to be considered standard behaviour.

                And that's part of the problem. Better to display important information when it's needed - particularly when these are users who may not easily differentiate issues from normal behaviour. It's like having a warning light that flashes red every three seconds to indicate that everything is fine, but will flash red every second when there's an issue.* That's how this crap appears to users, and one reason why users so often click through important dialogue boxes.

                * I absolutely fucking hate flashing LEDs on lapt

            • by armanox (826486)

              Do you remember Red Hat Graphical Boot? That kinda did that.

            • by dbIII (701233)
              Progress bars with no information just replace "is this thing on?" with "WTF is taking it so long, something must be broken."
              Apart from being useful for debugging when there is a problem (and you can tell somebody where it got to or google it), the scrolling text gives feedback that the hamsters are pedalling as fast as they can and there is some actual progress.
            • by cthulhu11 (842924)
              So in other words, it should do what Solaris 10 did years ago?
              • re: So in other words, it should do what Solaris 10 did years ago?
                .
                Yes!!!

                Sure, why not? That's the sad part with too much software. Sometimes, developers add change for the sake of change (or for power trips), rather than for expressly improving the software or its usability. If solaris did it back then that way, then it did it right. Someone else pointed out that for a while redhat bootup did that too. Too bad redhat went away from there. IMHO, a nice clean boot with the option to see details as

                • by cthulhu11 (842924)
                  Solaris 10 introduced both a default quiet startup and SMF. RHEL 7 in 2H2013will have systemd which AIUI at least partly does the parallel startups that SMF did in 2005. No signs of a postbellum filesystem, though - still running Solaris here for ZFS compression.
                  • Are you using Solaris on x86 or on MIPS? My parents actually have an SGI Indy with IRIX 6.x.something which I've played with, and a NeXT cube with NeXT-Step on it, and an old CPM machine. But there are no Solaris pizza boxes here. Is it possible to still download Solaris for x86? They've also got a big blue SGI with an x86 chip in it that's supposed to run windows NT but we've never found disks and drivers that work on it. (this is along with the trs-80 4k level one and the Apple ][+ which I played wit
        • by fnj (64210)

          But 'pretty' is important when trying not to scare new users (aka 'non-professional' users) away.

          Bullshit. Yoiu probably think owners want their cars to play chords, massage their shoulders and emit perfume when they are started. Newsflash: they DON'T CARE.

          • by ceoyoyo (59147)

            I prefer my car to play music and a shoulder massage would be great. Not sure of the last one, but lots of people have air fresheners in their cars.

        • 'Pretty' itself is largely pointless(and tends to be used to obscure actually useful boot-spew); but the ability to achieve it can be a symptom of good things.

          But 'pretty' is important when trying not to scare new users (aka 'non-professional' users) away.

          Arguably, with contemporary hardware, every second between hitting the power button and seeing the login prompt is 'ugly' no matter how attractive the loading animation.

          I certainly won't deny that throwing the results of a confused OpenBSD system, in some ghastly VGA legacy text mode, at the user on every boot is a good strategy; but if the hardware that a normal user is trying to boot(ie. no massive disk arrays or other things that Just Take Time to spin up and check) gives them long enough to start worryi

    • by fnj (64210)

      I don't give a shit what it looks like, and short of extremes I don't care how long it takes, but I care how informative it is. I have the kernel options set to a text mode boot display anyway, which is actually (gasp) useful.

  • by Nivag064 (904744) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @05:50AM (#43508463) Homepage

    The start up graphics is pointless, it is not interesting, nor does it tell you anything useful, and it just makes the boot process seem very slow.

    One of the first things I do with a new fedora system is to disable the start up graphics, and display the boot up messages. So the boot process appears faster (may take exactly the same wall clock time, never measured it), and there is something at least vaguely interesting to look at. Plus, if it freezes for some reason, I've got some hint as to where the problem occurred.

    • by pipatron (966506)

      Scrolling all that text without 2D accelerated hardware (not likely to be in place that early) likely adds more to the startup time than loading and displaying a graphical progress bar, especially considering how any drive will read far more than necessary for booting in one go, so the extra load time will be virtually zero.

      • What kind of acceleration do you think you need for non-antialiased, fixed-width text? A bitblt might speed it up in a framebuffer console, but these days memcpy on the CPU is faster, which is why X11 won't use hardware bitblt anymore. On x86, however, the hardware / BIOS provides a text console, and the GPU is free to accelerate it however it wishes. Given that the XT could scroll text faster than the kernel boot messages appear, I doubt this is a bottleneck on any vaguely modern system. You'll get mor
      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        Scrolling all that text without 2D accelerated hardware (not likely to be in place that early) likely adds more to the startup time than loading and displaying a graphical progress bar.

        If you disable graphical boot, the console doesn't switch to "graphic" mode until fairly late in the boot sequence. It's pretty easy to see this happen as the font visibly changes.

        So, it's all text mode during the most critical time, and only slow on pretty ancient hardware. Any video card even halfway decent (like less than 10 years old) will do just fine in either mode.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      On any machine made this century the boot messages should fly past way, way faster than I can read them. If for some reason it hangs at some point during the boot process, then I guess there should be a button to hit or hold (or boot option if you're not doing this physically) to see it but otherwise its just nerd porn. The rest you can show me in a device manager or whatever after I've booted.

      • by Nivag064 (904744)

        Well I have commissioned at least 3 machines this century, where I had time to read the messages...

        But even whizzing past at speed, like my latest machine with SSD, still beats looking at the fedora logo being filled in - IMHO! :-)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      But with systemd you STILL don't know why it hangs.

      systemd throws everything not explicitly serialized into running at the same time.

      Unfortunately, even the explicitly serialized modules don't necessarily start properly.

      • Unfortunately, even the explicitly serialized modules don't necessarily start properly.

        Systemd is one of the final reasons why I recently dumped Archlinux off my laptop and returned to Slackware after an interval of 3 years. (There are lots of other reasons, but suffice to say that the reason why I liked Arch in the first place was its similarities to Slackware. Those are now pretty much absent.)

        The old BSD-style init scripts still rock after 20 years.

        • Yup. I loved Arch for it's connection to the "Unix way" until they decided to force systemd on us and then basically silenced and/or censored all naysayers. Sure it's their distro, they can do what they like, however silencing dissenting opinions in that fashion just didn't sit right with me, even more so than the systemd decision imo. Rather than Slack, it's been FreeBSD for me, however. Always been a fan of it on servers, and these days it's been good enough for the desktop in my case. :)

      • by fnj (64210)

        But with systemd you STILL don't know why it hangs.

        Yes, but there's nothing that says a distro HAS to use systemd. Maybe GNOME is getting too intertwined with it to allow kicking systemd to the shitter, but there are far batter DEs than GNOME 3 which couldn't care less HOW the system gets booted. Init scripts work as well as ever. The same goes for pulseaudio.

        If Poettering and his ilk turns linux into a piece of shit, the community at large has nobody to blame except their collective selves.

        • by armanox (826486)

          Except nobody wants to listen to our complaints? I don't want systemd or wayland. But they're going to be forced on us. And I'll be expected to support them.

  • was when I reinstalled windows after a hardware upgrade, 3 months ago

    my work laptop gets suspended every night, its been over a year since its "booted"

    and even if I boot a machine from the dead cold, screw it, I go get a cup of coffee and its done before I return

    welcome to 2013, no one cares

    • by Anonymous Coward

      was when I reinstalled windows after a hardware upgrade, 3 months ago

      Considering that any 'critical' Windows update requires a reboot, and every update cycle includes at least one critical update, you haven't been updating your system or you haven't rebooted after updating (which creates a rather unstable environment).

  • I've got a print server that I've haven't to reboot in over a year .. it is running a SuSE version ...
  • As long as 'performant' and 'documentate' are banished.

  • Hmm... look up "ideate" on wikipedia... get a lot of "designer"-y bullshit. Look up "ideation" on wikipedia, I know I've heard that word somewhere before...
    Ideation may refer to:

    -- Ideation (idea generation), the process of creating new ideas

    -- Suicidal ideation, a common medical term for thoughts about suicide

    Suicidal? So is fedora boot going to automatically "kill -9" itself everytime it boots? Has sentience arrived along with french existential angst for the OS? I would have expected french

  • by guacamole (24270) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @07:29AM (#43508675)

    Most of the boot improvements created since then have done nothing but irritate the experienced users. Honestly, I wish some of the "improvements" to GUIs were undone too.

  • Seriously, can we stop referring to booting a computer as an "experience"? It's not like it's a trip to the moon!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you want to see how a system should boot, go check out Haiku or OS X. Hell, even Windows does it fairly well.

    I can't stand Linux boot processes. Typically there is some over complicated piece of shit bootloader that wants to kick my display into graphical mode so it can puke up distro-themed garbage all over my display for 5 seconds... Then things go black, the kernel starts to vomit verbose crap all over my screen in text mode, then the early graphical boot progress thing fires up X.org for a bit until

  • experience? (Score:5, Funny)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @08:38AM (#43508895) Homepage Journal

    Booting Fedora is an "experience"? Who knew?

    Naw, that's not an experience. An experience is being high on some sticky purple bud and driving a Lamborghini Gallardo on the Pacific Coast Highway with CHP on your tail and $7.5million in stolen money in a backpack on the seat next to you and busting through a guard rail, getting thrown 70 feet from the car and watching the Gallardo burst into a fireball while you realize you were only scratched and you somehow grabbed the backpack when you were thrown from the car. And now the police and the guys you stole the money from and your wife all think you're dead.

    Now THAT'S an experience. Booting Fedora is not an experience.

    • Sounds like a "Disney Experience". I can't wait until they make it into a Hookers'N'Blow theme park ride for the MILFs with toddlers, complete with animatronics blaring the "it's a small world" soundtrack.
    • by Kjella (173770)

      I take it you speak from experience?

  • I'm afraid I violated Slashdot rules. Mairin does a very nice job of showing that he's drunk the latest Fedora "electric kool-aid" and has entirely missed the most critical problems.

    * Boot loaders *DO NOT NEED GRAPHICS*. Throwing out the graphics would get rid of most of the "oh, no, my screen resolution is changing and flashing, and I have to load half the graphics libraries to get the trademark image I want, I have the wrong icon, boo-hoo-hoo". Just don't use graphics. booting will be much faster and mor

  • No research necessary here; just make it boot as quickly as Ubuntu. Not much need for fancy graphics when the boot is so fast.

    And for the "I boot once a millenium" crowd: (a) kernel updates are considered a good thing, and (b) some people use laptops.

  • I boot my system maybe twice a year. What annoys me is not the graphical appearance during the boot, but the lengthy checks of the filesystems on my 6 disks that are run sequentially instead of parallel. That is a better thing to work on than nice pictures, IMHO.

    The start up graphics is pointless, it is not interesting, nor does it tell you anything useful, and it just makes the boot process seem very slow. One of the first things I do with a new fedora system is to disable the start up graphics, and display the boot up messages. So the boot process appears faster (may take exactly the same wall clock time, never measured it), and there is something at least vaguely interesting to look at. Plus, if it freezes for some reason, I've got some hint as to where the problem occurred.

    All of this is useful to the average user, how?

  • by davydagger (2566757) on Sunday April 21, 2013 @06:29PM (#43511977)
    They already did the best thing they could....

    systemd. I know many people don't like it, but its awesome. It makes reboots on servers that much faster, cutting the boot time around half from sysvinit, and making the shut off time under 3 seconds.

    in addition, it replaces polkit, and intergrates with acpid, and udev, making it very very solid in keeping track of programs and hardware. None of the glitchyness or sluggesness of initscripts. No more relying on bash scripts to keep track of things like PIDs.

    very eligant modern solution for replacing init with a v

    also replacing consolekit was probably the best thing to happen to linux since HAL was obsoleted by added udev funcitonaility.

    Its very un-UNIX like, but it gives the boot proccess and daemon handling a very very professional unfied method, and speed/agility that linux needs to compete with windows and mac.
    • by lpq (583377)

      "and making the shut off time in under 3 seconds"...

      My server runs squid and transmission and by DEFAULT, both have
      shutdown timeouts around 10-20 seconds which they usually try to take.

      ---
      No more being able to boot single user from the root disk

      No more being able to bring up the system 1 service at a time in
      single-step mode to debug a problem.

      -------
      Yeah systemd was so fast when it tried to boot my system -- it mounted
      the local file systems before running lvm.

      For some reason that didn't work.

      Can't seem to m

  • Beware of issues with non-native filesystem types and processes other than fsck slowing your disks to a crawl.

    I have one big ext4 boot partition with Ubuntu 12.04 and one external NTFS systen. Fsck hasn't given me much problem even if a shutdown left the boot partition dirty and it needs to run on the next boot.

    Dealing with NTFS from linux can be dicey, especially if the hardware does not perform well. I have a slow disk that I have had to umount a couple of times to get through some problems.

    Gnome

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