Man Linux: Main Page and Category List


       lilo - install boot loader


       Main function:

        /sbin/lilo - install boot loader

       Auxiliary uses:

        /sbin/lilo -A - activate/show active partition
        /sbin/lilo -E - edit header or update a bitmap file
        /sbin/lilo -I - inquire path name of current kernel
        /sbin/lilo -M - write a Master Boot Loader on a device
        /sbin/lilo -q - query map
        /sbin/lilo -R - set default command line for next reboot
        /sbin/lilo -T - tell more about specified topic
        /sbin/lilo {-u|-U} - uninstall LILO boot loader


       lilo  installs  a  boot loader that will be activated the next time you
       boot your system. The default configuration  file  /etc/lilo.conf  (see
       ’man  lilo.conf’)  will contain most options, but many, including those
       which override the configuration file, may be specified on the  command

       -A master-device [ N ]
              Used  with  a  single  argument,  inquire of active partition on
              device master-device; e.g., /dev/hda.  With N==0, deactivate all
              partitions  on the device.  With N in the range [1..n], activate
              the specified partition and deactivate  all  others.   Normally,
              only  primary  partitions  [1..4]  may  be activated, but if the
              Extended Master Boot Loader is present on the Master Boot Record
              of  the  device  (see  the -M option), any partition may be made
              active.  Whether the actual OS in the partition will  boot  from
              an  extended partition depends on the characteristics of the OS.
              LILO boot records for Linux  may  be  booted  from  an  extended

       -b bootdev
              Specify  the  boot  device;  i.e., where the boot loader will be
              installed.  "-b /dev/hda" specifies the Master Boot Record;  "-b
              /dev/sdb5"  specifies the first extended partition on the second
              SCSI disk.

       -B bitmap-file
              Specify  a  bitmap  file  for  the  boot-time  graphics  screen,
              preferably one already pre-processed with the ’lilo -E’ command.

       -c     Enable map  compaction.  This  will  merge  read  requests  from
              adjacent   sectors.  Speeds  up  the  booting  (especially  from

       -C config-file
              lilo Specify an alternate pathname for the  configuration  file.
              This option overrides the use of the default configuration file,

       -d delay
              Specifies the delay time in tenths of a  second  (20  =  2  sec)
              before automatically booting the first image.  Gives you time to
              interrupt the automatic boot  process  with  Shift,  Alt,  Ctrl,
              ScrollLock,  or CapsLock.  If interrupted, the ‘boot:’ prompt is
              displayed.  This switch  is  overridden  by  the  appearance  of
              prompt in the configuration file.

       -D label
              Use the kernel with the given label, instead of the first one in
              the list, as the default kernel to boot.

       -E filename.ext
              If .ext is .bmp, then take the file to be a bitmap graphic  file
              for use in the "bitmap=" configuration file directive.  Enter an
              interactive editor  to  create  or  update  the  color/placement
              information  in the bitmap file LILO header.  (see ’bmp-colors’,
              ’bmp-table’,   and   ’bmp-timer’   on   the   man    page    for

              If  .ext  is .dat, then take the file to be a configuration file
              which specifies bitmap graphic parameters, which are transferred
              into the LILO header in the bitmap file of the same name.

              When  a  .bmp  file  is  modified using a graphics editor (e.g.,
              GIMP), the LILO header will be lost.  It can be  restored  using
              the .dat file, which is used as a text-based backup for the LILO
              header information.

       -f disk-tab
              Specify  disk  geometry  parameter   file.   (The   default   is

       -F     Override  boot  sector  check  for filesystems (e.g., swap, XFS,
              ...) which might be destroyed by the installation  of  the  LILO
              boot  sector  on  the  first  sector  of  the  partition.  These
              filesystems use the first sector as a superblock.

              Compare with "-P ignore", which bypasses certain partition table

       -g     Generate   cylinder/head/sector   (geometric)   disk  addresses.
              Limited to cylinders up  to  1023.   Forces  compatibility  with
              older versions of LILO.

       -H     Override  fatal  halt  when a RAID array does not have all disks

       -i boot-loader
              Specify a file to be used as the new boot loader.  (The  default
              is /boot/boot.b.)

       -I label [D|a|i|k|r|R]
              label  is  taken  to  be  the  name of an image specified in the
              configuration file.  This command will print the  path  name  of
              the  corresponding  kernel  file, keytable file, initial ramdisk
              file, root specification, or "append=" string  ("i",  "k",  "r",
              "R",   or  "a"  option).   The  "D"  option  ignores  the  label
              parameter, and prints  the  default  "image="  label,  or  first
              "image=" label if no default image is specified.

       -l     Generate    24-bit    linear   sector   addresses   instead   of
              cylinder/head/sector addresses.

       -L     Generate   32-bit   Logical   Block   Addresses    instead    of
              cylinder/head/sector   addresses,   allowing   access   to   all
              partitions on disks with more than 1024 cylinders.

       -m map-file
              Use specified map file instead of the default.

       -M master-device [mbr|ext]
              Install a Master Boot Record on the device specified as  master-
              device,  selecting  the  Standard or Extended Master Boot Loader
              per the option.  The primary partition table on master-device is
              undisturbed.   If no valid Volume-ID (serial number) is present,
              then generate one and write it to the MBR.  If mbr is specified,
              the  Standard  Master Boot Loader will search partitions 1-4 for
              an active flag, and boot the flagged partition.  Only one active
              flag  is allowed.  If ext is specified, the search for an active
              partition  will  include  extended  partitions  as  well.    The
              presence  of  the Extended Master Boot Loader on the Master Boot
              Record (MBR = sector 0) of a disk affects the operation  of  the
              -A option.

       -p     Require  interactive  entry  of all passwords specified as "" in
              the configuration file.

       -P {fix|ignore|<global-option>}
              Fix or ignore ‘corrupt’ partition tables, i.e., partition tables
              with  linear  and  cylinder/head/sector  addresses  that  do not
              correspond.  Always try -P ignore first, as -P fix will re-write
              the  partition  table, possibly destroying all partitions on the

              -P ignore is also used to bypass the partition table  check  for
              partition types within the partition table which might not allow
              the installation of a LILO boot sector.  Compare with  the  "-F"
              flag, which overrides the check of the actual boot sector.

              -P <global-option> allows the passing of any global option which
              may appear in the global section (top) of the configuration file
              (/etc/lilo.conf).    For  instance,  -P  nowarn  will  pass  the
              "nowarn"  option,  just  as  though  "nowarn"  appeared  in  the
              configuration  file  (same  as  the "-w" switch).  Similarly, -P
              timeout=50 will add or  override  the  "timeout="  line  in  the
              configuration  file.   Note  that the general -P switch actually
              duplicates a number of command line option  switches.   However,
              it  is  not  strictly  the  same as some switches whick cause an
              override of other options; e.g., "-g" (-P geometric),  "-L"  (-P

       -q     List  the  currently  mapped  files.   lilo maintains a file, by
              default /boot/map, containing  the  name  and  location  of  the
              kernel(s)  to  boot.   This  option will list the names therein.
              Use with -v for more detailed information  about  the  installed
              boot loader.

       -r root-directory
              Before  doing  anything  else,  do  a  chroot  to  the indicated
              directory. The new root directory must contain a /dev directory,
              and   may   need   a  /boot  directory.  It  may  also  need  an
              /etc/lilo.conf file.

       -R command line
              This option sets the default command for  the  boot  loader  the
              next  time  it  executes.  The  boot loader will then erase this
              line: this is a once-only  command.  It  is  typically  used  in
              reboot scripts, just before calling ‘shutdown -r’.  Used without
              any arguments, it will cancel  a  lock-ed  or  fallback  command

       -s save-file
              When  lilo  writes  a  new  boot sector, it preserves the former
              contents  of  the  sector  in   a   file,   named   by   default
              /boot/boot.NNNN, where NNNN is the hexadecimal representation of
              the major and minor device numbers of the drive/partition.  This
              option  specifies  the  backup save file in one of three ways: a
              save directory (default is ’/boot’) using the  default  filename
              ’boot.NNNN’  in  the specified directory; a pathname template to
              which ’.NNNN’ is appended (default would  be  ’/boot/boot’);  or
              the  full  pathname  of the file, which must include the correct
              ’.NNNN’ suffix. When used with the  -u  option,  the  full  file
              pathname must be specified.

       -S save-file
              Normally,  lilo  will not overwrite an existing boot sector save
              file. This options says that overwriting is  to  be  forced.  As
              with  -s, the specification may be of a save directory, pathname
              template, or full pathname (which includes the ’.NNNN’  suffix.)

       -t     Test  only.  Do  not really write a new boot sector or map file.
              Use together with -v to find out what lilo is about to do.

       -T option
              Print out system information, some  of  it  extracted  from  the
              system  bios.   This  is  more  convenient than booting the LILO
              diagnostic floppy on problem systems.  option may be any one  of
              the following:

                 help  - print a list of available diagnostics
                 ChRul - list the partition types subject to
                 EBDA  - list Extended BIOS Data Area information
                 geom=<drive> list drive geometry for bios drive;
                         e.g., geom=0x80
                 geom  - list drive geometry for all drives
                 table=<drive> list the primary partition table;
                         e.g., table=/dev/sda
                 video - list graphic modes available to boot

       -u [device-name]
              Uninstall  lilo by copying the saved boot sector back.  The ’-s’
              and ’-C’ switches may be used with this option.  The device-name
              is optional.  A time-stamp is checked.

       -U [device-name]
              Idem, but do not check the time-stamp.

       -v     Increase verbosity. Giving one to five -v options will make lilo
              more verbose, or use, -v n (n=1..5) to set verbosity level  ’n’.

       -V     Print version number.

       -w     Used  as  -w  or  -w-,  suppress warning messages.  Used as -w+,
              override nowarn in the  configuration  file,  and  show  warning

       -x option
              For  RAID  installations  only.   The  option  may be any of the
              keywords none, auto, mbr, mbr-only, or a comma separated list of
              additional boot devices (no spaces allowed in the list).

       -X     Reserved  for  LILO  internal use.  May produce different output
              for different LILO versions. The line beginning  "CFLAGS="  will
              contain  the  compiler  options used to generate this version of

       -z     When used with the -M switch,  clears  the  Volume-ID.   Usually
              used in the following sequence to generate a new Volume-ID:
                   lilo -z -M /dev/hda
                   lilo -M /dev/hda

       -Z option
              Tells  the boot installer whether special precautions need to be
              taken because the BIOS fails to pass the correct device code  in
              DL  (-Z0).  Or  may  specify  that the BIOS always gets DL right
              (-Z1). Corresponds to, and  overrides,  the  configuration  file
              option ’bios-passes-dl=’.

       The  above  command  line  options  correspond  to the key words in the
       config file indicated below.

              -b bootdev       boot=bootdev
              -B file.bmp      bitmap=file.bmp
              -c               compact
              -d dsec          delay=dsec
              -D label         default=label
              -i boot-loader   install=boot-loader
              -f file          disktab=file
              -g               geometric
              -l               linear
              -L               lba32
              -m mapfile       map=mapfile
              -P fix           fix-table
              -P ignore        ignore-table
              -s file          backup=file
              -S file          force-backup=file
              -v [N]           verbose=N
              -w               nowarn
              -x option        raid-extra-boot=option
              -Z option        bios-passes-dl=option


       The options described here may be specified at boot time on the command
       line  when  a  kernel  image is booted.  These options are processed by
       LILO, and are removed from the command line before it is passed to  the
       kernel, unless otherwise noted.

       lock   Locks  the  command line, as though ’lock’ had been specified in

              Specifies the maximum memory in the system in bytes,  kilobytes,
              megabytes,  or  gigabytes.   This option is not removed from the
              command line, and is always passed to the kernel.

       nobd   Suppresses the BIOS data check.  This option is reserved for use
              with non-IBM-compliant BIOS’s which hang with the lines:

                   BIOS data check

              Allows overriding the default video mode upon kernel startup.


       The  boot process takes place in two stages.  The first stage loader is
       a single sector, and is loaded by the BIOS or by the loader in the MBR.
       It  loads  the  multi-sector  second  stage  loader,  but is very space
       limited.  When the first stage loader gets control, it types the letter
       "L"; when it is ready to transfer control to the second stage loader it
       types the letter "I".  If any error occurs, like a disk read error,  it
       will  put  out  a  hexadecimal  error code, and then it will re-try the
       operation.  All hex error codes are BIOS return values, except for  the
       lilo-generated 40, 99 and 9A.  A partial list of error codes follows:

              00  no error
              01  invalid disk command
              02  address mark not found

              03  disk write-protected
              04  sector not found
              06  floppy disk removed
              08  DMA overrun
              0A  bad sector flag
              0B  bad track flag
              20  controller failure
              40  seek failure (BIOS)
              40  cylinder>1023 (LILO)
              99  invalid second stage index sector (LILO)
              9A  no second stage loader signature (LILO)
              AA  drive not ready
              FF  sense operation failed

       Error  code  40  is  generated  by  the  BIOS,  or  by  LILO during the
       conversion of a linear (24-bit) disk address  to  a  geometric  (C:H:S)
       address.   On  older  systems  which  do  not  support  lba32  (32-bit)
       addressing, this error may also be generated.  Errors 99 and 9A usually
       mean the map file (-m or map=) is not readable, likely because LILO was
       not re-run after some system change, or there is a  geometry  mis-match
       between what LILO used (lilo -v3 to display) and what is actually being
       used by the BIOS (one of the lilo diagnostic disks,  available  in  the
       source distribution, may be needed to diagnose this problem).

       When the second stage loader has received control from the first stage,
       it prints the letter "L", and when it has initialized itself, including
       verifying the "Descriptor Table" - the list of kernels/others to boot -
       it will print the  letter  "O",  to  form  the  full  word  "LILO",  in

       All  second  stage  loader  error messages are English text, and try to
       pinpoint, more or less successfully, the point of failure.


       lilo is known to have problems with the reiserfs  introduced  with  the
       2.2.x  kernels,  unless  the  file  system is mounted with the ’notail’
       option.  This incompatibility has been resolved  with  reiserfs  3.6.18
       and lilo 21.6.  reiser4 introduced with the 2.5.x kernels requires lilo
       22.5.2 or later.

       Beginning with version 22.0, RAID installations write the  boot  record
       to  the RAID partition. Conditional writing of MBRs may occur to aid in
       making the RAID set bootable in a recovery situation, but  all  default
       actions  may  be  overridden.  Action  similar  to previous versions is
       achieved using the ‘-x mbr-only’ switch.


       Configuration file options ‘backup’ and ‘force-backup’ should specify a
       backup   directory  or  backup  file  pathname  template  on  all  RAID
       installations. Use of an  explicit  filename  may  not  allow  multiple
       backup  files  to  be  created correctly. It is best to use the default
       mechanism, as it works correctly in all cases.


       fdisk(8), lilo.conf(5), mkrescue(8), mkinitrd(8).

       The lilo distribution  comes  with  very  extensive  TeX  documentation
       through Version 21.  Text file README’s in the source directory provide
       updates   on   more   recent   topics.    This   can   be   found    in
       /usr/share/doc/lilo on Debian systems.


       Werner Almesberger <> (versions 0 to 21)
       John Coffman <> (21.2 to present date)

                                  07 Oct 2005