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Linux: Init Process and PC Boot Procedure Page 1 of 6

PC Boot and Linux Init Process:

1. BIOS: The Basic Input/Output System is the lowest level interface between the computer and peripherals.
The BIOS performs integrity checks on memory and seeks instructions on the Master Boor Record (MBR) on the floppy drive or hard drive.
2. The MBR points to the boot loader (GRUB or LILO: Linux boot loader).
3. Boot loader (GRUB or LILO) will then ask for the OS label which will identify which kernel to run and where it is located (hard drive and partition
specified). The installation process requires to creation/identification of partitions and where to install the OS. GRUB/LILO are also configured during
this process. The boot loader then loads the Linux operating system.
 See the YoLinux tutorial on creating a boot disk for more information on GRUB and LILO and also to learn how to put the MBR and boot loader
on a floppy for system recovery.
4. The first thing the kernel does is to execute init program. Init is the root/parent of all processes executing on Linux.
5. The first processes that init starts is a script /etc/rc.d/rc.sysinit
6. Based on the appropriate run-level, scripts are executed to start various processes to run the system and make it functional.

The Linux Init Processes:

The init process is the last step in the boot procedure and identified by process id "1". Init is responsible for starting system processes as defined in
the /etc/inittab file. Init typically will start multiple instances of "getty" which waits for console logins which spawn one's user shell process. Upon
shutdown, init controls the sequence and processes for shutdown. The init process is never shut down. It is a user process and not a kernel system process
although it does run as root.

System Processes:

Process ID Description
0 The Scheduler
1 The init process
2 kflushd
3 kupdate
4 kpiod
5 kswapd
6 mdrecoveryd

Init config file (Red Hat 7.3-9.0, Fedora Core 1-3): /etc/inittab

# Author: Miquel van Smoorenburg,
# Modified for RHS Linux by Marc Ewing and Donnie Barnes


# System initialization.

l0:0:wait:/etc/rc.d/rc 0
l1:1:wait:/etc/rc.d/rc 1
l2:2:wait:/etc/rc.d/rc 2
l3:3:wait:/etc/rc.d/rc 3
l4:4:wait:/etc/rc.d/rc 4
l5:5:wait:/etc/rc.d/rc 5
l6:6:wait:/etc/rc.d/rc 6

# Things to run in every runlevel. This line is only in Red Hat 7.X Used to flush disk buffers.

ca::ctrlaltdel:/sbin/shutdown -t3 -r now

# When our UPS tells us power has failed, schedule a shutdown for 2 minutes from now.
pf::powerfail:/sbin/shutdown -f -h +2 "Power Failure; System Shutting Down"

# If power was restored before the shutdown kicked in, cancel it.
pr:12345:powerokwait:/sbin/shutdown -c "Power Restored; Shutdown Canceled"

# Run gettys in standard runlevels
1:2345:respawn:/sbin/mingetty tty1
2:2345:respawn:/sbin/mingetty tty2
3:2345:respawn:/sbin/mingetty tty3
4:2345:respawn:/sbin/mingetty tty4
5:2345:respawn:/sbin/mingetty tty5
6:2345:respawn:/sbin/mingetty tty6

# Run xdm in runlevel 5
x:5:respawn:/etc/X11/prefdm -nodaemon

Note that this config file directs the init process to run the shell script /etc/rc.d/rc.sysinit. This script should be used as is and NOT changed. Extend
rc.local and NOT this script. This will (not in exact order):

 Run /sbin/initlog
 Run devfs to generate/manage system devices
 Run network scripts: /etc/sysconfig/network
 Start graphical boot (If so configured): rhgb
 Start console terminals, load keymap, system fonts and print console greeting: mingetty, setsysfonts
The various virtual console sessions can be viewed with the key-stroke: ctrl-alt-F1 through F6. F7 is reserved for the GUI screen invoked in run level
 Mount /proc and start device controllers.
 Done with boot configuration for root drive. (initrd) Unmount root drive. 03/14/08
Linux: Init Process and PC Boot Procedure Page 2 of 6

 Re-mount root file system as read/write
 Direct kernel to load kernel parameters and modules: sysctl , depmod, modprobe
 Set up clock: /etc/sysconfig/clock
 Perform disk operations based on fsck configuration
 Check/mount/check/enable quotas non-root file systems: fsck, mount, quotacheck, quotaon
 Initialize logical volume management: vgscan, /etc/lvmtab
 Activate syslog, write to log files: dmesg
 Configure sound: sndconfig
 Activate PAM
 Activate swapping: swapon

Local system boot processes can be placed in file: /etc/rc.d/rc.local

The system will then boot to the runlevel set by the directive initdefault.

Also see:

 init man page
 inittab man page

Linux init Run Levels:

LINUX has six states of operation of which "0" is the shutdown state and "3" and above are fully operational with all essential processes running for user
interaction. Upon system boot the LINUX system /sbin/init program starts other processes by performing the following:

 Init will bring up the machine by starting processes as defined in the /etc/inittab file.

 The computer will be booted to the runlevel as defined by the initdefault directive in the /etc/inittab file.

In this example a runlevel of "5" is chosen. Runlevel "5" will boot the system into GUI mode using XDM and X-Windows. Booting to runlevel "3" (often
called console mode) is often used by servers which do not need a graphical user interface. If booted to init level "3" one can promote the run level with
the command [root prompt]# init 5. See the more detailed explanation of run levels below.

The inittab file will allow you to capture key sequences (ctrl-alt-del), start dial in internet connections etc.

 One of these process started by init is /sbin/rc. This script runs a series of scripts in the
directories /etc/rc.d/rc0.d/, /etc/rc.d/rc1.d/, /etc/rc.d/rc2.d/, etc

 Scripts in these directories are executed for each boot state of operation until it becomes fully operational. Scripts beginning with S denote startup
scripts while scripts beginning with K denote shutdown (kill) scripts. Numbers follow these letters to denote the order of execution. (lowest to highest)

Runlevel "3" will boot to text or console mode and "5" will boot to the graphical login mode ( "4" for slackware)

Runlevel Scripts Directory State
(Red Hat/Fedora Core)
0 /etc/rc.d/rc0.d/ shutdown/halt system
1 /etc/rc.d/rc1.d/ Single user mode
2 /etc/rc.d/rc2.d/ Multiuser with no network services exported
3 /etc/rc.d/rc3.d/ Default text/console only start. Full multiuser
4 /etc/rc.d/rc4.d/ Reserved for local use. Also X-windows (Slackware/BSD)
5 /etc/rc.d/rc5.d/ XDM X-windows GUI mode (Redhat/System V)
6 /etc/rc.d/rc6.d/ Reboot
s or S Single user/Maintenance mode (Slackware)
M Multiuser mode (Slackware)

One may switch init levels by issuing the init command with the appropriate runlevel. Use the command "init #" where # is one of s,S,0,1,3,5,6. The
command telinit does the same.

The scripts for a given run level are run during boot and shutdown. The scripts are found in the directory /etc/rc.d/rc#.d/ where the symbol # represents
the run level. i.e. the run level "3" will run all the scripts in the directory /etc/rc.d/rc3.d/ which start with the letter "S" during system boot. This starts the
background processes required by the system. During shutdown all scripts in the directory which begin with the letter "K" will be executed. This system
provides an orderly way to bring the system to different states for production and maintenance modes.

If you installed all demons (background processes), Linux will run them all. To avoid slowing down your machine, remove unneeded services from the start-
up procedure. You can start/stop individual demons by changing to the directory:

 /etc/rc.d/init.d/ (Red Hat/Fedora )
 /etc/init.d/ (S.u.s.e.)
 /etc/init.d/ (Debian)

and issuing the command and either the start, stop, status, restart or reload option i.e. to stop the web server:

 cd /etc/rc.d/init.d/
(or /etc/init.d/ for S.u.s.e. and Debian) 03/14/08
Linux: Init Process and PC Boot Procedure Page 3 of 6

 httpd stop

Use the command ps -aux to view all process on your machine.

TIP: List state and run level of all services which can be started by init: chkconfig --list
service --status-all | grep running (Red Hat/Fedora Core based systems)

GUI tool: /usr/X11R6/bin/tksysv

Run Level Commands:

 init 0
 shutdown -h now
 -a: Use file /etc/shutdown.allow
 -c: Cancel scheduled shutdown.
 halt -p
 -p: Turn power off after shutdown.
 init 6
 shutdown -r now
 Enter single user mode:
 init 1

Init Script Activation:

Adding a script to the /etc/rc.d/rc#.d/ directory with either an S or K prefix, adds the script to the boot or shutdown process. The scripts are run in
numerical order. S20abc is run before S30xyz. The extensibility to the boot and shutdown procedures of the operating system is one of the strengths of
UNIX. The orderly sequential initiation of processes can be coordinated for dependent processes. The orderly shutdown of processes is often required of
complex programs such as databases. This is how it is done. Individual processes may be monitored, shutdown and started at any time using these scripts.
i.e. /etc/rc.d/rc2.d/httpd start. The modifiers start, stop or status may be used.

The start/stop/status scripts actually reside in the directory:

 /etc/rc.d/init.d/ (Red Hat/Fedora)
 /etc/init.d/ (S.u.s.e. and Debian)

and are linked to the appropriate directories. These links may be created or destroyed using the chkconfig command. i.e. chkconfig --del httpd will
remove the web server from the startup and shutdown process. Inversely chkconfig --add httpd will add it to the startup/shutdown process by generating
links from the script in /etc/rc.d/init.d/ to the appropriate /etc/rc.d/rc#.d/ directory. For more information see the LINUX manual page on init.

Basic services include:

System Service Description
anacron Run jobs which were scheduled for execution while computer was turned off. Catch up with system duties.
arpwatch Keeps track of IP address to MAC address pairings
atd Run scheduled batch jobs.
autofs automounts file systems on demand.
crond Job sheduler for periodic tasks.
gpm Allows console terminal cut and paste. (Non X-window consoles)
https Apache web server.
iptables Firewall rules interface to kernel.
keytable Loads selected keyboard map as set in /etc/sysconfig/keyboard
kudzu New hardware probe/detection during system boot.
lpd Network printer services.
microcode_ctl Uploads microcode to kernel and ultimately to the Intle Pentium processor. (Hardware specific.)
mysqld Database services
named DNS name services (Bind)
network Active network services during system boot.
nfs Network file system. Unix file sharing services.
nscd Password and group lookup services for use with network authentication (NIS, LDAP,...).
ntpd Network Time Protocol time synchronization services.
random Random number generation tool used for encryption.
rawdevices Enables raw IO. Useful for Oracle and software which utilizes this for high speed disk access.
smb SAMBA: MS/Windows PC file sharing services
syslog System log file facility.
ypbind NIS file sharing/authentication infrastructure service.
yppasswd NIS file sharing/authentication infrastructure service.
ypserv NIS file sharing/authentication infrastructure service. 03/14/08
Linux: Init Process and PC Boot Procedure Page 4 of 6

xfs X-Windows font server.

Recommended basic services: anacron, ard, autofs, crond, gpm, iptables, keytable, kudzu, microcode_ctl (Intel32 hardware only), network,
random. syslog
Graphics Workstation - add: xfs
File Server for PC clients - add: smb
Print Server - add: lpd or cups
File server Linux/Unix clients - add: nfs, netfs, nfslock, portmap, ypbind, yppasswd, ypserv
Web Server - add: httpd, tux, xinetdi, sshd

GUI configuration tools:

GUI tools can help you configure the appropriate services to start and provide a description of each service available:

 Red Hat 8.0/9.0: /usr/bin/redhat-config-services
 Fedora/RHEL: /usr/bin/system-config-services
(Also /usr/sbin/serviceconf)
 Ubuntu 6 / Debian:
 bum (Boot Up Manager)

Red Hat / Fedora Core GUI: system-config-services (and redhat-config-services)

Red Hat/Fedora Core text console services selection tool: /usr/sbin/ntsysv 03/14/08
Linux: Init Process and PC Boot Procedure Page 5 of 6

Init Script:

A single copy of the script is located in the directory: /etc/rc.d/init.d/script-name (Red Hat/Fedora) or /etc/init.d/script-name (Debian).
Use the command chkconfig to generate soft links to the appropriate directories for the various run levels.

# Startup script for program
# chkconfig: 345 85 15 - This statement tells the chkconfig command how to add or delete this process to the boot process
# description: Description of program
# processname: process-name
# pidfile: /var/run/
# Source function library. This creates the operating environment for the process to be started
. /etc/rc.d/init.d/functions

case "$1" in
echo -n "Starting process-name: "
daemon process-name - Starts only one process of a given name.
touch /var/lock/subsys/process-name
echo -n "Shutting down process-name: "
killproc process-name
rm -f /var/lock/subsys/process-name
rm -f /var/run/ - Only if process generates this file
status process-name
$0 stop
$0 start
echo -n "Reloading process-name: "
killproc process-name -HUP
echo "Usage: $0 {start|stop|restart|reload|status}"
exit 1
exit 0

The bash script functions daemon, killproc and status can all be found in the script /etc/rc.d/init.d/functions. (Red Hat/Fedora distributions)

The script must be executable to work. (chmod +x script-name).

The script may be used to start and stop processes. i.e.:

 /etc/rc.d/init.d/httpd restart
(S.u.s.e.: /etc/init.d/apache2 restart)
 /etc/rc.d/init.d/httpd stop
 /etc/rc.d/init.d/httpd start

OR use the Red Hat/Fedora core based service command: 03/14/08
Linux: Init Process and PC Boot Procedure Page 6 of 6

 service httpd restart
 service httpd stop
 service httpd start

Note that two lines in the script enable the chkconfig command to control the script for the boot and shutdown process.

# chkconfig: 345 85 15
# description: Description of program

When added to the boot process using the "chkconfig --add script-name" command the start order/priority will be set to 80 while the stop/shutdown order
will be set to 15. The process will be added to runlevels 3, 4 and 5. This is enabled by generating links from the location of the script (/etc/rc.d/init.d/) to
the directory for the appropriate run level: /etc/rc.d/rc#.d/. The file name in the run level directory will reflect if it is used for boot (starts with an "S") or
shutdown (starts with a "K")


The (Red Hat/Fedora/IRIX) chkconfig command generates and breaks links between the directory /etc/rc.d/init.d/ and the appropriate run level
directory: /etc/rc.d/rc[0-6].d/ to control boot process initiation and process shutdown.

chkconfig [--level ] on | off | reset >
chkconfig --list
chkconfig --list
chkconfig --add

chkconfig --del
chkconfig --level 0123456 off


 chkconfig --level 345 httpd on - forces apache to be invoked for run levels 3, 4 and 5.
 chkconfig --add httpd - Start the web server daemon upon system boot.
 chkconfig --del sendmail - Do not start the sendmail daemon upon system boot.
 chkconfig --list - List all services and init levels.
 chkconfig --list | grep on - List all services to be started upon system boot.

Using chkconfig to administer xinetd processes.

 chkconfig wu-ftpd on - Turn on FTP service managed by xinetd.
 chkconfig ipop3 off - Turn off POP3 service managed by xinetd.

This will reconfigure the appropriate xinetd file (in directory /etc/xinetd.d/) and restart the xinetdprocess.

Also see: chkconfig - Linux man page.

Related Commands:

service Display status of system services.
Example: service --status-all
Help: service --help 03/14/08