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How long does the RasPi take to boot when using the standard Debian distribution on a typical SD card? Are we talking less than a second? A couple of seconds? 10 seconds? 100 seconds?

This isn't too important for most users and applications, but could be important for embedded solutions which are not permanently switched on.

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I don't think there is such a thing as a "standard Debian SD card" because cards vary so much. Maybe this would be easier to answer if the foundation started selling preloaded cards (and only if they used the same model consistently.) –  finnw Jun 14 '12 at 21:28
    
I'm one of those awaiting their Raspis - I was under the impression they were intending to sell them; and that there is a standard Debian distribution. I'll reword things a little... –  winwaed Jun 14 '12 at 21:35
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I think it's a perfectly valid question. A simple benchmark might be "dd this debian image to an SD card, boot 3 times and time the fastest one until you get to the logon prompt, and publish your time along with the manufacturer and class of device" –  popey Jun 15 '12 at 9:16
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6 Answers

up vote 14 down vote accepted

This is completely dependant on the Class of SD card you are using.

A Class 4 card, which is the minimum recommended has an average read/write speed of 4 MB/sec.

If you spend a little extra and buy a Class 10 card, you should find that the boot time is approximately 25% of the Class 4, as it should read at 10MB/sec.

Using finnw's estimate that 24 seconds pass while using a Class 6 we can guess this could be reduced to 14.4 seconds with a Class 10 device.

Classes 2-10 will give you boot times something like this:

enter image description here

Update:

With the release of new hard float distributions boot time has been significantly reduced. In addition, Arch Arm Linux is now using systemd instead of init which starts processes in parallel and is considered to be much faster. As a result my Class 10 SD card now boots Arch to a login prompt in about 6-7 seconds.

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It'd be awesome if people would post their boot times & SD card class - we could see how accurate your chart is –  Alex L Jun 15 '12 at 15:35
    
@Alex: I'm just flashing a Class 10. So I'll be able to see what the performance increase is like from my Class 2. I'm expecting a big difference :D –  Jivings Jun 16 '12 at 15:16
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@Alex Confirmed, Class 10 card takes about 15 seconds to boot Arch. –  Jivings Jun 17 '12 at 8:38
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I'm going to mark this as the answer, as it looks like there's a wide range of possibilities and this gives the "Grand Unified Theory" as it were. I would echo @Alex's comment, and I'll Up vote each new answer as it comes in. This should then be a useful set of answers for the future. Moderators could lock the question in a few months to avoid "Me Too" answers. –  winwaed Jun 18 '12 at 13:09
    
@winwaed: Good idea. –  Jivings Jun 18 '12 at 13:35
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I timed it on my Pi, and it took 24 seconds from powerup to login prompt.

This is with a Transcend Class 6 4GB SD card loaded with Debian Squeeze.

This is the card that is recommended by RS for use with the RasPi, so this may qualify as "typical" as many users will probably have this type of card.

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So there's a good chance it will be the card I end up on - I'm on RS's US division's waiting list; but haven't paid much attention to cases, card types, etc. until I have a confirmed order... –  winwaed Jun 18 '12 at 13:11
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My Kingston 4gb class 4 loaded with Debian Squeeze took 40 seconds from power up to login prompt

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Patriot class 10 32Gb with nothing connected but the hdmi took 30s from power up to login prompt

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For better boot times, update the firmware (with rpi-update), install the system with hard-floats and keep it updated.

Older firmware are usually slower, hard-floats increase a lot the system speed, every day there are more optimization for arm, specially for rpi

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Transcend 32GB class 10 needs 30 seconds. I don't think that older and newer images boot for the same time, so results should mention image version. Mine was 2012-10-28-wheezy-raspbian.zip.

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