lilo - install boot loader


Main function:

/sbin/lilo - install boot loader

Auxiliary uses:

/sbin/lilo -q - query map /sbin/lilo -R - set default command line for next reboot /sbin/lilo -I - inquire path name of current kernel /sbin/lilo -A - activate a partition / show active partition /sbin/lilo -M [-z? - write a Master Boot Record on a device - or clear the device serial number /sbin/lilo -T - tell more about specified topic /sbin/lilo {-u|-U} - uninstall lilo


lilo installs a boot loader that will be activated next time you boot. It has lots of options.

-A master-device [ N?

Inquire of active partition on device master-device; e.g., ''

-b bootdev

Specify the boot device; i.e., where the boot loader will be installed.


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

-C config-file

lilo reads its instructions about what files to map from the specified configuration file. This option overrides the use of the default config file, /etc/lilo.conf.

-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 overriden by the appearance of prompt in the config-file.

-D label

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

-f disk-tab

Specify disk geometry parameter file. (The default is /etc/disktab.)


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

-i boot-loader

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

-I label

The label of the running kernel can be found in the environment variable BOOT_IMAGE after startup, or in the pseudo-file `/proc/cmdline'. This command will print path name of the corresponding kernel file, or of any initial ramdisk file (


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


Generate 32-bit Logical Block Addresses instead of C:H:S 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-file?

Install a Master Boot Record on the device specified as master-device. The new MBR is copied by default from master-device is undistrubed. If no device serial number is present, then generate one and write it to the MBR.


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

-P {fix|ignore}

Fix (or ignore) `corrupt' partition tables, i.e., partition tables with linear and sector/head/cylinder addresses that do not correspond.


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.

Used by the mkbootdisk shell script for creating a bootable floppy.

-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 line.

-s save-file

When lilo overwrites the boot sector, it preserves the old contents in a file, by default /boot/boot.NNNN where NNNN depends on the device. This option specifies an alternate save file for the boot sector. (Or, together with the -u option, specifies from where to restore the boot sector.)

-S save-file

Normally, lilo will not overwrite an existing save file. This options says that overwriting is allowed.


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

Change-Rules EBDA - list Extended BIOS Data Area information geom=

-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.


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'.


Print version number.


Suppress warning messages.

-x option

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


When used with the -M switch, clears the device serial number. Usually used in the following sequence to generate a

new device serial number
lilo -z -M /dev/hda

lilo -M /dev/hda

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


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


Locks the command line, as though 'lock' had been specified in 'lilo.conf.'


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


Suppresses collection of BIOS data. This option is reserved for use with non-IBM-compliant BIOS's which hang up with an



Allows overriding the default video mode upon kernel startup.


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 incompatibilty has been resolved with reiserfs 3.6.18 and lilo 21.6.

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' are not yet correctly implemented for RAID installations. Use of the default boot record backup mechanism seems to work okay, and should be used.


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

The lilo distribution comes with very extensive documentation. This can be found in /usr/share/doc/lilo on Debian systems. (lilo 22.1)


Werner Almesberger John Coffman

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