Which Linux for fast booting
I am considering making an "emulator-box" in a mediacenter casing. I have the hardware (some parts from my old computer), and want it to run Linux since it is free and I like Linux very much (mostly the last one :) ).
However I am in doubt which distro I should choose... The main requirement of the Linux is that the boot time should be very fast. This could be acheived either with a low actual boot time or some kind of suspend function so it can just resume from harddrive.
The box is supposed to run X on a Geforce 6600, and run a number of emulators (Snes, MegaDrive, PS1, etc.) no user applications are needed just the emulators. For other apps I intend to make a dual-boot so I can just load another Linux for that.
Just the final info for the curious, I intend to let the Linux boot directly into a custom fullscreen UI where the user can choose his game and the relevant emulator is then run fullscreen. The interaction is going to be done with either keyboard and mouse (if the user wishes) or just a USB gamepad. Addition of ROMs will probably be automated in some way so that the user can insert a USB-pen SD-card or CD and then tell the system to copy the files.
Any ideas to other features which would be nice you are free to tell me. Also, if the project actually reaches a usable state I will make a webpage where I tell how I set up the Linux and make available the source for the UI (unless there are legal issues, it will be GPL). Of course I cannot make ROMs and Console BIOS's available, those the users will have to get themselves. I have no intension of getting lawyers thrown at me ;)
Anyway, you can make any distro boot fast, but if you need the basic uninstall everything and install just these:
If internet is needed: a browser, probably firefox
A light GUI, window manager. Fluxbox, XFCE, or Enlightenment
Install your drivers, etc. Uninstall anything else. The less you have installed, the faster your boot will be.
Recommended distros for this:
Fedora, DSL, Slackware, Debian, Gentoo, Puppy
First of all, thanks for your reply.
With "the last one" I meant the second reason for using Linux (that I like using it), reading the line again I can see that it is not clear what I meant.
And to your actual advise, it seems like it may be a good approach to simply choose a distro I like and stripping the parts I do not need. I think that is what I am going to do. The solution will probably end up being either Debian or Ubuntu since I really like the Debian package system. Guess I could just as well just develop the app on a different linux machine and then decide on distro later...
About window managers, yes I am going to use a very light-weight one (probably fluxbox) since I intend all UI to run fullscreen so hardly any WM functionality is really needed.
Yes, thats probably a good approach. For boot time, you also need to consider which services gets started (chkconfig --list is the command I think). If there are things you only use very occationaly, you can switch them off from the boot and start them manually when needed.
Also an idea to remove the graphical boot. Fedora has one of those (its called RHxx something, forgotten exactly what it was, the one that draw those spinning dots instead of showing the console). I guess Ubuntu has a similar one, not sure. You can check the boot process and what takes time with this tool http://www.bootchart.org/
I guess also, you should compile your own kernel and remove modules/drivers you dont need.
Thanks monsm. All of that sound like really good ideas, and I will start looking into it this weekend. Though I may not sound it, I have been a Linux user / sparetime developer (just tools for myself) since 1998 and have a reasonable understanding of how Debian works since that is the one I used until recently. Still I have never actually tried minimizing a Linux install so that will be a good test of my skills :) The bootchart tool I did not know, but it looks really useful for this project. Compiling kernels should also be doable, I used to do that every time a new one came out on my celeron 266.
In my research to find a linux distro for non computer literate Windows users, I have come across a distribution/WM combination that is blazingly fast on boot and Extremely fast after boot.
What is more, you can boot from a USB, (faster even huh)
use enlightenment on puppy.
It takes getting used to.
If you want to get really good, I think you can configure the background to be interactive (nice idea for a menu)
I personally would set up a solar system with each planet being a game system ....
Do a debian netinst with a bare minimum installation, about 600mb installed, and then add whatever else you need from there. There are other distros similar such as Archlinux, Crux, & Sourcemage.
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