If you are a Linux user, you should be knowing how fast Linux installs compared to Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X operating systems. If that’s not enough, the future versions of Ubuntu starting from Ubuntu 18.10 will install more quicker compared to the current Ubuntu!
The engine behind this boost in installation speed is the Zstandard decompression algorithm, courtesy of Facebook. Using Zstandard, the Ubuntu installation files will be able to achieve higher decompression speeds than xz or even gzip archive files. Just to let you know if aren’t aware, Linux installation files are compressed using an archive format to reduce the download size. When a user installs the OS, the archive files are decompressed and copied over to computer storage. This is where Zstd speed is coming into picture.
Ubuntu developers ran a Zstandard speed test on the upcoming Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and noticed installation speed boosted by about 10%! The increase in speed causes a installer size increase by about 6%, meaning slightly more download time.
Ubuntu developer, Julian Andres Klode wrote in a message:
In our configuration, we run zstd at level 19. For bionic main amd64, this causes a size increase of about 6%, from roughly 5.6 to 5.9 GB.
Installs speed up by about 10%, or, if eatmydata is involved, by up to 40% – user time generally by about 50%.
Zstd can also offer stronger compression ratios at the cost of compression speed. Obviously, we are looking at some trade-off of Speed vs Compression ratio. But, decompression speed is more or less same at all settings.
Canonical will consider a feature freeze exception to get this new Zstd Apt/Dpkg support in Ubuntu 18.04. What it means is that they would be able to enable Zstd compression for installer packages by default in Ubuntu 18.10 onwards. This comes as a great news for users, as they need to wait less to start using Ubuntu.