Chapter 1. Boot Process, Init, and Shutdown
An important and powerful aspect of Red Hat Linux is the open, user-configurable
method it uses for starting the operating system. Users are free to
configure many aspects of the boot process, including specifying the
programs launched at boot-time. Similarly, system shutdown gracefully
terminates processes in an organized and configurable way, although
customization of this process is rarely required.
Understanding how the boot and shutdown processes work not only allows
customization of Red Hat Linux, but also makes it easier to troubleshoot problems
related to starting or shutting down the system.
1.1. The Boot Process
Below are the basic stages of the boot process for an x86 system:
The system BIOS checks the system and launches the first stage
boot loader on the MBR of the primary hard disk.
The first stage boot loader loads itself into memory and launches the second
stage boot loader from the /boot/
The second stage boot loader loads the kernel into memory, which in turn
loads any necessary modules and mounts the root partition
The kernel transfers control of the boot process to
the /sbin/init program.
The /sbin/init program loads all services and
user-space tools, and mounts all partitions listed in
The user is presented with a login prompt for the freshly booted
Because configuration of the boot process is more common than the
customization of the shutdown process, the remainder of this chapter
discusses in detail how the boot process works and how it can be
customized to suite specific needs.