The snow-shoveling I’ve been taking part in over the last couple of weeks is best described with a set of graphs:
So far, we’ve been able to lop about 23 seconds - or 48% - off the time it takes to boot openSUSE 11.1 on this particular netbook, without sacrificing much in the way of functionality. It boots straight into GNOME and its usual trappings, including the panel, Nautilus, “slab” main menu, nm-applet, PackageKit updater, printing applet (written in Python…), CUPS, etc.
It’s important to note that this time is measured from the moment bootchart starts until everything settles and is ready to use, easily identified in the chart as the moment where CPU activity falls to the baseline of noise from bootchartd itself.
It’s also important to note that this is on a netbook with a slow CPU, slow-to-init X driver/graphics hardware and fast SSD I/O. I’m hearing a lot of numbers being bandied about these days, e.g. “distribution Foo boots in 10 seconds”, and these numbers are meaningless without hardware specifications and a list of features you get. GNOME delivers a different feature set from Xfce, and netbooks and workstations usually perform very differently. Then there are questions of flexibility; is the system open-ended? Can you get server features by just installing packages and configuring them?
IMO, openSUSE has had unacceptable boot times on workstations for a long time now. Hopefully these changes will make it into future releases, upstream where possible.
For more details, see the wiki page. Note that for various reasons I haven’t been able to keep the text up to date. The graphs are representative, though.