CloudBook Takes Almost 3 Minutes to Boot

Boot Screen on CloudBookI have to admit I don’t have a lot of patience. Maybe it’s the 8 cans of diet coke I drink a day, but I can’t stand sitting and waiting for a computer to do anything. So slow boot times drive me crazy. I have a dream that someday all computers will have instant on. I used to have an IBM Workpad z50 PDA which looked like a miniature Thinkpad and ran Windows CE 2.11. The operating system was too lame to use for long, but the thing gave you control of your desktop the second you hit the on button. Of course, any real PC takes a while to boot up and, if you count logging in and watching the hard drive whir, it can be a good minute or two from the time you hit the start button to the time you can start using the computer. Even in a world where every computer starts too slowly, the CloudBook stands out. I filmed the machine cold booting to get an accurate read of how long this system takes before it gives you control of the desktop. If you have some time, take a look at the video below and tell me whether I’m just impatient or whether you’d tear your hair out waiting for this too. In case, you didn’t sit there counting or just gave up watching the video before it ended, here’s a summary.

  • 1:48 from hitting the on-button to getting the login prompt. BTW, the login is required (unlike the Eee PC).
  • 0:43 from entering the password to seeing the wallpaper and icons
  • Another several seconds (maybe 10 to 20) of the hard drive spinning and loading things in the background (not shown in the video b/c I got tired of waiting).

I can only hope that this is a software issue and that the version of gOS consumers are receiving doesn’t have these problems. As of this writing, I haven’t been able to reach the folks at gOS or Everex to find out whether maybe we got a bum operating system. At some point, we’ll install other operating systems on this unit and see how quickly they boot. On another note, the log in screen is an enormous pain. I consider myself a good touch typist and, most of the time, it takes me three or more attempts to correctly enter my simple password. This adds yet another layer or time-consuming frustration to the startup process.

AUTHOR BIO
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
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  1. Bri Says:

    Ouch, that is terrible. I hope it fairs better from suspend mode. I hope that is just GOS
    making it that slow, I wonder if it was checking hard drive for errors (I doubt its been mounted
    30 times already). Keep up the good work. I like reading the reports, good or bad

  2. MikeZ Says:

    Sounds like more installation fine tuning required.
    Not a bum operating system, just a bum setup.
    More of the same of what you have already found, it came out half-tuned.

  3. Mike Cane Says:

    Is there a hibernation or suspend mode?

    If not, yet another reason to dump gOS and put XP on when I get mine.

    Thanks for keeping us all posted!

  4. oldhand Says:

    Sounds like an incredibly slow hard drive!!!
    I don’t think it will improve that much even if you optimize the OS.
    A 1.8 inch 4200RPM hard drive is slow. gOS (ubuntu) doesn’t check the hard drive for errors every boot so it’s just plain slow.

    SSDs are the future.

  5. vrzone24hrs Says:

    I have been using gOS(discontinued Enlightenment version) from a kingston 1gb SD card for the past 3 weeks on my Eee..as you can see from my youtube video my boot took 70-90secs max..I believe the differences is the Intel chip and networking was hassle free with the previous network manager.I am just shocked to see from your reviews the apparent hardware/gOS(gnome) conflicts.To date I have not had any problems with the older gOS having spend at least 2hrs/day for youtube/google maps/google docs/facebook/blogging..

    I wish thinkOS would release via their website the actual gOS you are using for ppl like me to test out
    (1)Eee booting gOS directly from SDHC
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTUagY1Ndv8

    (2)Asus Eee+gOS=Oh My gOS(h)..it’s`so eeeasy to use-Part 1 of 2
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPf3P57DEoo

    (3)Asus Eee+gOS=Oh My gOS(h)..it’s`so eeeasy to use-Part 2of 2
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-mXCnhrFLA

  6. Patrick Says:

    “At some point, we’ll install other operating systems on this unit and see how quickly they boot.”

    Yes!! The wait is unbearable! XP the beast!

  7. pim Says:

    One of the main attractions to buy my eee was it short boot time. About 20 seconds to full functionality! I might even put a splash OS on an SD card and enable 5 second booting just for skype / the internet.

  8. mahjongg Says:

    Some technical backgrounds why the hard disk load times are this dismal are now discovered.

    First, probably due to a last minute kernal change, the CloudBook now suffers from a hardware bug in VIA’s IDE hardware, causing massive data loss problems during high data traffic situations.
    This means that gOS needs to re-read the same data many times causing the extreme delays.
    A work around is already written to fix this problem.

    see: http://article.gmane.org/gmane.linux.kernel/641355/match=cloudbook

    another problem is that the booting code seems to be far from optimised, one problem is that gOS boots at half the CPU speed (600MHz) ! There are also lots of other speed limiting snags. Also there are appear to be problems in the initialisation code of the WifI module.
    So there are stil LOTS of optimalisations that can be done!

    See http://forum.cloudbooker.com/viewtopic.php?pid=1775#p1775

    The good news is that all this seems to have been caused by the extremely short development time of this version of gOS, and as it’s just software it can be easily fixed.

  9. Quinn Storm Says:

    Actually, that article is about a 2.6.24 kernel, the cloudbook still ships with and uses a 2.6.22 kernel that *does not* have the data loss bug (which does not cause retries, it causes total system failure)

    The half speed cpu issue appears to be real, I’m looking into ways to move the loading of e_powersaver and the switching of the governor to performance up to the top of init, one issue btw being that changing rates during the runtime currently can hardlock the system, so it has to be set to performance basically from the beginning

    As for the wifi module, as I believe I commented on that thread, there is no problem there, that is the code from ubuntu (on which gOS is based) trying to hardware probe and load a module for a different wifi card that is not present on the cloudbook. The cloudbook has a ralink card, the iwlwifi has nothing to do with that.

  10. bill Says:

    “On another note, the log in screen is an enormous pain. I consider myself a good touch typist and, most of the time, it takes me three or more attempts to correctly enter my simple password. This adds yet another layer or time-consuming frustration to the startup process.”

    Say what? Type in your username, press enter, type in your password, press enter. It’s the same as nearly every other Linux login screen.

    And if you don’t like logging in, turn on auto-login.

  11. Anthony Rasat Says:

    Notice that this is a reply of post more than one year and a half later.

    Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope brought new Linux filesystem – ext4 – that pretty much ease the pain of booting a Cloudbook. And since Jaunty is a boot-optimized out-from-oven Ubuntu version, well, you probably looking at a normal boot time of 60 seconds.

    Cloudbook also notoriously known to frequently random freeze. Here you must add to the kernel line (or permanently add them to file /boot/grub/menu.lst):
    io_delay=none idle=halt acpi_osi=”!Windows 2006″ pci=routeirq

    Well, the rest of the problem (low power wifi, undetected video driver, etc) are remedied by Jaunty’s newer kernel. As far as I can see there is only two problem remains:
    1. No higher screen resolution than 800×480 pixel. I managed to customise window manager to optimise for small screen. Pretty good result, I can say.
    2. No sound from headphone jack. There are workaround though, I have no time to do it just yet.

    So, from my point of view, this article is getting irrelevant. Oh, by the way, at this time I wrote this post, Microsoft Windows 7 is on sale but I definitely not want to install it to a Cloudbook.

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