For months now I’ve had an annoying problem with Ubuntu. It boots to Gnome login in less than 30 seconds, but then pauses for a long time before showing the desktop. Through tweaking and fixing I’ve got this down to something reasonable – another 30-40 seconds, but it’s still too long. I’d narrowed the problem down to an error message with PulseAudio, but figured a full reinstall was the only way to fix the machine (and undo all the other bits I’ve fiddled with and lost track of). Not having the time to do that recently, I’d filed it under ‘Things to do’ at some random point in the future.
Except I don’t need to any more. After months of occassional searches, yesterday finally threw up the solution. In order not to trigger a time out error during login, both your user and root apparently need to be members of the groups pulse, pulse-access and pulse-rt. But, for some reason, they’re not by default. At some point in the past I’d added my user to one of these, but not completed the whole set.
Anyway, the upshot is that now everything is working smoothly and perfectly and I’m happy. Anyone else who’s having problems can find a much more detailed troubleshooting guide here.