Understanding the Linux startup process

Boot Camp

Article from Issue 269/2023

If you want to troubleshoot startup issues, you need a clear understanding of how Linux boots.

This article explains the process through which the Linux kernel loads. In a more technical sense, it explains how the kernel gets into memory and what it actually does until the first user process begins its execution.

Boot Processes

At a very high level, the Linux boot processes pass through the five steps described below. Some texts can describe it in four or six steps; however, the basic mechanism remains the same. The boot process starts at the moment either when you start a shutdown system or restart an already running system.

Irrespective of the computer or OS standard ("IBM-compatible"), computer systems use either the classic BIOS/MBR [1] boot process or the modern UEFI/GPT boot process. UEFI firmware and conventional BIOS both manage system boot, but the boot method and settings differ for each.


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