Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.
You could knock me over with a feather right now, as my American friends used to say, because that obnoxious little laptop makes the leap from the Grub boot screen to the Debian Sarge Gnome desktop in one minute, 43 seconds. And again: That’s a Gnome desktop, just so you don’t think that’s a typo.
I’m shocked, horrified, mystified and bewildered all at once. GDM starts at the 1:04 mark, and the last desktop pieces appear at 1:40. Drive light stops flickering at 1:43. No tweaks, no funky command-line acrobatics. Straight and fresh, downloaded from servers in Tokyo.
I’ve installed Debian before, but not on a machine this old. And never the full Gnome setup, just because I always assumed it to be as bloated and slow as the Ubuntu version, and didn’t see any need to torture myself.
Of course, some of this is due to the new hard drive. The jump from 4200rpm to 5400rpm plus 8Mb of cache is considerable. But it’s all there — all the Gnome goodies, and the desktop is fairly responsive too, so I know it’s not just the hard drive. I’m not going to label it as my newfound fave-rave desktop environment, but it does an amazing job, considering.
Well, what this means right now is that I need to take one step backward and reinstall the Hardy beta, so I have something to compare it against. If I’m still getting start times in the 2+ minutes range, I will need to reconsider some other things. I also want to check the newer version, since this is technically out-of-date, if I understand correctly.
Still, for what I’ve seen so far, I’m getting the speed and performance of some other “faster” distros, with the familiarity of Ubuntu. It’s worth investigating further.