Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.
It took me a long time, but I finally managed to get a default Ubuntu 8.04 system to boot in under a minute on a 1Ghz Pentium III, with an accelerated desktop and all the frills.
Generally speaking, my Ubuntu systems are among the slowest I tolerate. I installed the full 8.04 suite this time because I wanted to playtest VICE 2.0 against Hardy, which works fine as you can see. After that, it was a long and arduous wrestling match to get a sparse 2.6.26 kernel in place, as well as the packaged Nvidia driver. But as you can see, it works.
Really the only “tweaks” in place there are the customized kernel — a spitting image of my regular Crux kernels, with hardware allowances of course — and the 96xx proprietary driver from Nvidia, compiled fresh from the installation script. Nothing yet in place from my world-famous Hardy tweak collection.
My only suggestions right now: If you do try this stunt, don’t disable inotify or dnotify, since it makes HAL go crazy (pun intended). Since removing HAL will play havoc with the entire Gnome confabulation, it might be easier timewise to just compile those features, rather than play games with Ubuntu’s dependencies.
A minute, of course, is still a sluggish toad compared to an Openbox Crux system on this machine, which goes from 0 to 60 in 14 seconds for me (in this case, 0 to 60 is Grub to desktop ) and I don’t have to play games with dependencies.
I think when I have another 20 minutes or so to spare (like tonight, after work), I’ll add a few more little tweaks and see what bootchart says when it’s all said and done. It’s an interesting experiment, even if it’s so far behind what I usually use that I wouldn’t ever consider it.
Edit: After a few of the applicable tweaks I know were in place, bootchart put the start timeat 24 seconds, at least to gdm and X.
Of course, it’s another 30 seconds (sometimes more) before gdm and the rest of Gnome gets itself up and working. And it seems that inotify/dnotify also screws with readahead and a few other processes, so I think for Ubuntu systems it’s probably a good idea to keep it in your kernel.
After that though, Ubuntu can, and probably is, just as fast as most other Linux system when the guts are stripped. Gnome will probably never be a winner in my book, but at least you can carve away at its innards and make it something usable.