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You have to remeber that with a standard install, you are installing a lot of software with the OS. You normally get replacements for office, photoshop, winamp, and nero. Just think about the time involved in installing all that stuff after a windows install.
To speed up the boot process, you can turn off unneeded services. Open the mandrake control center and select "system" then "drakxservices". You will be able to read descriptions of services and uncheck anything you don't want to load at boot time. The boot process generally is a little slower than windows, but another thing to remember is that windows continues to load things after you see the desktop. In linux, when the boot prompt or graphical environment appears, it is ready to go.
Another thing is to try IceWM for your graphical environment. It mimicks windows 98 and loads very fast. It isn't as easy to configure as KDE or Gnome, but I like it.
Try to recompile the kernel, mkae it as small as posable, if it can be, set it as a module. Remember, anything that is compiled into the kernel stays in RAM, that means less RAM can be used by the system.