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CHAPTER 31 OPTIMIZING YOUR SYSTEM
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Figure 31-1. The scripts for each run level are contained in the /etc/rcX.d directories, where X is the run-level number. Once all that has finished, you can use the computer! Because so much must take place for your system to come to life, booting Ubuntu can take some time. On my test system, it averaged between one and two minutes. Certainly, you can shave some time from this.
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Reducing the Boot Menu Delay
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Getting rid of the GRUB boot menu delay can save some waiting around in the early stages of the boot process. The delay can be reduced to a second, or even eradicated completely. Of course, in such a case, you won t be able to choose which operating system you want to load if you re dual-booting with Windows. Even if Ubuntu is the only operating system on your computer, without the boot delay, you won t have the chance to boot into recovery mode, as offered on the GRUB menu. So you need to consider whether this is a worthwhile time-saving measure. The boot menu delay is stated in the /boot/grub/menu.lst file. You can load this into the Gedit text editor by typing the following: sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst Look for the line that begins with timeout, as shown in Figure 31-2, and change the value to whatever you wish. The units are counted in seconds, so a value of 3 equates to three seconds. A value of zero (0) will mean the boot menu won t appear at all. Generally speaking, a delay of a second (1) gives you just enough time to hit a key at the appropriate time, and this will then cancel the countdown, meaning the boot menu will stay on your screen until you select an option. When you ve finished, save the file and quit Gedit.
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Figure 31-2. You can stop the GRUB menu hanging around for so long by changing the timeout value in its configuration file.
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Perhaps it goes without saying that the majority of bootup time is spent starting the run-level scripts. This is when the entire system comes to life hardware and essential software services are activated. But this isn t to say that all run-level scripts are essential.
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Note A service is a piece of background software that provides something that you, the user, need on a day-to-day basis. Some services manage hardware, such as the graphical interface, printing services, and networking. Some services provide software services, such as logging files or checking the system clock against a time server.
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The one-size-fits-all approach of Ubuntu means that some services that are started up aren t always necessary. A good example is the Bluetooth service. This is started up on every single Ubuntu system, yet only a fraction of users will ever use it. Therefore, if you don t use Bluetooth hardware (and are certain you never will), you can safely disable it and retrieve the chunk of memory it uses, as well as the amount of time it takes to start during bootup. Approximately 60 run-level scripts start on a typical boot. By selective pruning, you can easily remove around a quarter or even a third of these, but caution is advised. You re altering a fundamental aspect of your system configuration, and one simple mistake can make the difference between a system that works and one that is no longer able to boot.
Disabling Run-Level Scripts
You can use the Services Settings program (System Administration Services) to control which run-level scripts start at bootup, but, sadly, it doesn t allow the enabling/disabling of initialization (run level S) scripts. It allows you to edit only certain numbered run-level scripts. Therefore, you need to download a command-line program called SysV Runlevel Config that can do the job. It offers a pseudo-graphical interface by which services can be activated and deactivated on all run levels, including S. To obtain the SysV Runlevel Config program, use the Synaptic Package Manager. (If you haven t already set up the Synaptic Package Manager to use online repositories, see 8.) Select System Administration Synaptic Package Manager, click Search, and search for sysv-rc-conf. Mark it for installation, and then click Apply. Open a GNOME Terminal window (Applications Accessories Terminal), and then maximize it to the full size of the screen. Then type the following to start the SysV Runlevel Config program: sudo sysv-rc-conf s 2S This command runs SysV Runlevel Config showing only run levels 2 and S, to remove potential confusion between run levels. The program s interface, shown in Figure 31-3, is simple. On the left, you see a list of the various scripts that are contained in the /etc/init.d directory and are therefore available for use during bootup (both initialization scripts and numbered run-level scripts). Not all of them are used. Those that aren t used are there in case they will be needed in future, or are provided for legacy reasons so that some software will work correctly. Along the top of the program window are the run levels you re going to edit: 2 and S. If the check box next to a service has an X in it, that script is run on that particular run level. You can change this by navigating to the check box with the cursor keys and pressing the spacebar. You can scroll through the list of services by moving the cursor down to the bottom of the screen, or by pressing Ctrl+N to scroll down a page. Ctrl+P will move you up a page.
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