bootparam(7) — Linux manual page


BOOTPARAM(7)              Linux Programmer's Manual             BOOTPARAM(7)

NAME         top

       bootparam - introduction to boot time parameters of the Linux kernel

DESCRIPTION         top

       The Linux kernel accepts certain 'command-line options' or 'boot time
       parameters' at the moment it is started.  In general, this is used to
       supply the kernel with information about hardware parameters that the
       kernel would not be able to determine on its own, or to
       avoid/override the values that the kernel would otherwise detect.

       When the kernel is booted directly by the BIOS, you have no
       opportunity to specify any parameters.  So, in order to take
       advantage of this possibility you have to use a boot loader that is
       able to pass parameters, such as GRUB.

   The argument list
       The kernel command line is parsed into a list of strings (boot
       arguments) separated by spaces.  Most of the boot arguments have the


       where 'name' is a unique keyword that is used to identify what part
       of the kernel the associated values (if any) are to be given to.
       Note the limit of 10 is real, as the present code handles only 10
       comma separated parameters per keyword.  (However, you can reuse the
       same keyword with up to an additional 10 parameters in unusually com‐
       plicated situations, assuming the setup function supports it.)

       Most of the sorting is coded in the kernel source file init/main.c.
       First, the kernel checks to see if the argument is any of the special
       arguments 'root=', 'nfsroot=', 'nfsaddrs=', 'ro', 'rw', 'debug' or
       'init'.  The meaning of these special arguments is described below.

       Then it walks a list of setup functions to see if the specified argu‐
       ment string (such as 'foo') has been associated with a setup function
       ('foo_setup()') for a particular device or part of the kernel.  If
       you passed the kernel the line foo=3,4,5,6 then the kernel would
       search the bootsetups array to see if 'foo' was registered.  If it
       was, then it would call the setup function associated with 'foo'
       (foo_setup()) and hand it the arguments 3, 4, 5, and 6 as given on
       the kernel command line.

       Anything of the form 'foo=bar' that is not accepted as a setup func‐
       tion as described above is then interpreted as an environment vari‐
       able to be set.  A (useless?) example would be to use 'TERM=vt100' as
       a boot argument.

       Any remaining arguments that were not picked up by the kernel and
       were not interpreted as environment variables are then passed onto
       PID 1, which is usually the init(1) program.  The most common argu‐
       ment that is passed to the init process is the word 'single' which
       instructs it to boot the computer in single user mode, and not launch
       all the usual daemons.  Check the manual page for the version of
       init(1) installed on your system to see what arguments it accepts.

   General non-device-specific boot arguments
              This sets the initial command to be executed by the kernel.
              If this is not set, or cannot be found, the kernel will try
              /sbin/init, then /etc/init, then /bin/init, then /bin/sh and
              panic if all of this fails.

              This sets the NFS boot address to the given string.  This boot
              address is used in case of a net boot.

              This sets the NFS root name to the given string.  If this
              string does not begin with '/' or ',' or a digit, then it is
              prefixed by '/tftpboot/'.  This root name is used in case of a
              net boot.

              This argument tells the kernel what device is to be used as
              the root filesystem while booting.  The default of this set‐
              ting is determined at compile time, and usually is the value
              of the root device of the system that the kernel was built on.
              To override this value, and select the second floppy drive as
              the root device, one would use 'root=/dev/fd1'.

              The root device can be specified symbolically or numerically.
              A symbolic specification has the form /dev/XXYN, where XX des‐
              ignates the device type (e.g., 'hd' for ST-506 compatible hard
              disk, with Y in 'a'–'d'; 'sd' for SCSI compatible disk, with Y
              in 'a'–'e'), Y the driver letter or number, and N the number
              (in decimal) of the partition on this device.

              Note that this has nothing to do with the designation of these
              devices on your filesystem.  The '/dev/' part is purely con‐

              The more awkward and less portable numeric specification of
              the above possible root devices in major/minor format is also
              accepted.  (For example, /dev/sda3 is major 8, minor 3, so you
              could use 'root=0x803' as an alternative.)

              This parameter sets the delay (in seconds) to pause before
              attempting to mount the root filesystem.

              This parameter sets the mount option string for the root
              filesystem (see also fstab(5)).

              The 'rootfstype' option tells the kernel to mount the root
              filesystem as if it where of the type specified.  This can be
              useful (for example) to mount an ext3 filesystem as ext2 and
              then remove the journal in the root filesystem, in fact
              reverting its format from ext3 to ext2 without the need to
              boot the box from alternate media.

       'ro' and 'rw'
              The 'ro' option tells the kernel to mount the root filesystem
              as 'read-only' so that filesystem consistency check programs
              (fsck) can do their work on a quiescent filesystem.  No pro‐
              cesses can write to files on the filesystem in question until
              it is 'remounted' as read/write capable, for example, by
              'mount -w -n -o remount /'.  (See also mount(8).)

              The 'rw' option tells the kernel to mount the root filesystem
              read/write.  This is the default.

              This tells the kernel the location of the suspend-to-disk data
              that you want the machine to resume from after hibernation.
              Usually, it is the same as your swap partition or file.  Exam‐


              This is used to protect I/O port regions from probes.  The
              form of the command is:


              In some machines it may be necessary to prevent device drivers
              from checking for devices (auto-probing) in a specific region.
              This may be because of hardware that reacts badly to the prob‐
              ing, or hardware that would be mistakenly identified, or
              merely hardware you don't want the kernel to initialize.

              The reserve boot-time argument specifies an I/O port region
              that shouldn't be probed.  A device driver will not probe a
              reserved region, unless another boot argument explicitly spec‐
              ifies that it do so.

              For example, the boot line

                  reserve=0x300,32  blah=0x300

              keeps all device drivers except the driver for 'blah' from
              probing 0x300-0x31f.

              By default, the kernel will not reboot after a panic, but this
              option will cause a kernel reboot after N seconds (if N is
              greater than zero).  This panic timeout can also be set by

                  echo N > /proc/sys/kernel/panic

              Since Linux 2.0.22, a reboot is by default a cold reboot.  One
              asks for the old default with 'reboot=warm'.  (A cold reboot
              may be required to reset certain hardware, but might destroy
              not yet written data in a disk cache.  A warm reboot may be
              faster.)  By default, a reboot is hard, by asking the keyboard
              controller to pulse the reset line low, but there is at least
              one type of motherboard where that doesn't work.  The option
              'reboot=bios' will instead jump through the BIOS.

       'nosmp' and 'maxcpus=N'
              (Only when __SMP__ is defined.)  A command-line option of
              'nosmp' or 'maxcpus=0' will disable SMP activation entirely;
              an option 'maxcpus=N' limits the maximum number of CPUs acti‐
              vated in SMP mode to N.

   Boot arguments for use by kernel developers
              Kernel messages are handed off to a daemon (e.g., klogd(8) or
              similar) so that they may be logged to disk.  Messages with a
              priority above console_loglevel are also printed on the con‐
              sole.  (For a discussion of log levels, see syslog(2).)  By
              default, console_loglevel is set to log messages at levels
              higher than KERN_DEBUG.  This boot argument will cause the
              kernel to also print messages logged at level KERN_DEBUG.  The
              console loglevel can also be set on a booted system via the
              /proc/sys/kernel/printk file (described in syslog(2)), the
              syslog(2) SYSLOG_ACTION_CONSOLE_LEVEL operation, or dmesg(8).

              It is possible to enable a kernel profiling function, if one
              wishes to find out where the kernel is spending its CPU
              cycles.  Profiling is enabled by setting the variable
              prof_shift to a nonzero value.  This is done either by speci‐
              fying CONFIG_PROFILE at compile time, or by giving the 'pro‐
              file=' option.  Now the value that prof_shift gets will be N,
              when given, or CONFIG_PROFILE_SHIFT, when that is given, or 2,
              the default.  The significance of this variable is that it
              gives the granularity of the profiling: each clock tick, if
              the system was executing kernel code, a counter is incre‐

                  profile[address >> prof_shift]++;

              The raw profiling information can be read from /proc/profile.
              Probably you'll want to use a tool such as readprofile.c to
              digest it.  Writing to /proc/profile will clear the counters.

   Boot arguments for ramdisk use
       (Only if the kernel was compiled with CONFIG_BLK_DEV_RAM.)  In gen‐
       eral it is a bad idea to use a ramdisk under Linux—the system will
       use available memory more efficiently itself.  But while booting, it
       is often useful to load the floppy contents into a ramdisk.  One
       might also have a system in which first some modules (for filesystem
       or hardware) must be loaded before the main disk can be accessed.

              In Linux 1.3.48, ramdisk handling was changed drastically.
              Earlier, the memory was allocated statically, and there was a
              'ramdisk=N' parameter to tell its size.  (This could also be
              set in the kernel image at compile time.)  These days ram
              disks use the buffer cache, and grow dynamically.  For a lot
              of information on the current ramdisk setup, see the kernel
              source file Documentation/blockdev/ramdisk.txt (Documenta‐
              tion/ramdisk.txt in older kernels).

              There are four parameters, two boolean and two integral.

              If N=1, do load a ramdisk.  If N=0, do not load a ramdisk.
              (This is the default.)

              If N=1, do prompt for insertion of the floppy.  (This is the
              default.)  If N=0, do not prompt.  (Thus, this parameter is
              never needed.)

       'ramdisk_size=N' or (obsolete) 'ramdisk=N'
              Set the maximal size of the ramdisk(s) to N kB.  The default
              is 4096 (4 MB).

              Sets the starting block number (the offset on the floppy where
              the ramdisk starts) to N.  This is needed in case the ramdisk
              follows a kernel image.

              (Only if the kernel was compiled with CONFIG_BLK_DEV_RAM and
              CONFIG_BLK_DEV_INITRD.)  These days it is possible to compile
              the kernel to use initrd.  When this feature is enabled, the
              boot process will load the kernel and an initial ramdisk; then
              the kernel converts initrd into a "normal" ramdisk, which is
              mounted read-write as root device; then /linuxrc is executed;
              afterward the "real" root filesystem is mounted, and the ini‐
              trd filesystem is moved over to /initrd; finally the usual
              boot sequence (e.g., invocation of /sbin/init) is performed.

              For a detailed description of the initrd feature, see the ker‐
              nel source file Documentation/admin-guide/initrd.rst (or Docu‐
              mentation/initrd.txt before Linux 4.10).

              The 'noinitrd' option tells the kernel that although it was
              compiled for operation with initrd, it should not go through
              the above steps, but leave the initrd data under /dev/initrd.
              (This device can be used only once: the data is freed as soon
              as the last process that used it has closed /dev/initrd.)

   Boot arguments for SCSI devices
       General notation for this section:

       iobase -- the first I/O port that the SCSI host occupies.  These are
       specified in hexadecimal notation, and usually lie in the range from
       0x200 to 0x3ff.

       irq -- the hardware interrupt that the card is configured to use.
       Valid values will be dependent on the card in question, but will usu‐
       ally be 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 15.  The other values are usually
       used for common peripherals like IDE hard disks, floppies, serial
       ports, and so on.

       scsi-id -- the ID that the host adapter uses to identify itself on
       the SCSI bus.  Only some host adapters allow you to change this
       value, as most have it permanently specified internally.  The usual
       default value is 7, but the Seagate and Future Domain TMC-950 boards
       use 6.

       parity -- whether the SCSI host adapter expects the attached devices
       to supply a parity value with all information exchanges.  Specifying
       a one indicates parity checking is enabled, and a zero disables par‐
       ity checking.  Again, not all adapters will support selection of par‐
       ity behavior as a boot argument.

              A SCSI device can have a number of 'subdevices' contained
              within itself.  The most common example is one of the new SCSI
              CD-ROMs that handle more than one disk at a time.  Each CD is
              addressed as a 'Logical Unit Number' (LUN) of that particular
              device.  But most devices, such as hard disks, tape drives and
              such are only one device, and will be assigned to LUN zero.

              Some poorly designed SCSI devices cannot handle being probed
              for LUNs not equal to zero.  Therefore, if the compile-time
              flag CONFIG_SCSI_MULTI_LUN is not set, newer kernels will by
              default probe only LUN zero.

              To specify the number of probed LUNs at boot, one enters
              'max_scsi_luns=n' as a boot arg, where n is a number between
              one and eight.  To avoid problems as described above, one
              would use n=1 to avoid upsetting such broken devices.

       SCSI tape configuration
              Some boot time configuration of the SCSI tape driver can be
              achieved by using the following:


              The first two numbers are specified in units of kB.  The
              default buf_size is 32k B, and the maximum size that can be
              specified is a ridiculous 16384 kB.  The write_threshold is
              the value at which the buffer is committed to tape, with a
              default value of 30 kB.  The maximum number of buffers varies
              with the number of drives detected, and has a default of two.
              An example usage would be:


              Full details can be found in the file Documenta‐
              tion/scsi/st.txt (or drivers/scsi/ for older kernels)
              in the Linux kernel source.

   Hard disks
       IDE Disk/CD-ROM Driver Parameters
              The IDE driver accepts a number of parameters, which range
              from disk geometry specifications, to support for broken con‐
              troller chips.  Drive-specific options are specified by using
              'hdX=' with X in 'a'–'h'.

              Non-drive-specific options are specified with the prefix
              'hd='.  Note that using a drive-specific prefix for a non-
              drive-specific option will still work, and the option will
              just be applied as expected.

              Also note that 'hd=' can be used to refer to the next unspeci‐
              fied drive in the (a, ..., h) sequence.  For the following
              discussions, the 'hd=' option will be cited for brevity.  See
              the file Documentation/ide/ide.txt (or Documentation/ide.txt
              in older kernels, or drivers/block/README.ide in ancient ker‐
              nels) in the Linux kernel source for more details.

       The 'hd=cyls,heads,sects[,wpcom[,irq]]' options
              These options are used to specify the physical geometry of the
              disk.  Only the first three values are required.  The cylin‐
              der/head/sectors values will be those used by fdisk.  The
              write precompensation value is ignored for IDE disks.  The IRQ
              value specified will be the IRQ used for the interface that
              the drive resides on, and is not really a drive-specific

       The 'hd=serialize' option
              The dual IDE interface CMD-640 chip is broken as designed such
              that when drives on the secondary interface are used at the
              same time as drives on the primary interface, it will corrupt
              your data.  Using this option tells the driver to make sure
              that both interfaces are never used at the same time.

       The 'hd=noprobe' option
              Do not probe for this drive.  For example,

                  hdb=noprobe hdb=1166,7,17

              would disable the probe, but still specify the drive geometry
              so that it would be registered as a valid block device, and
              hence usable.

       The 'hd=nowerr' option
              Some drives apparently have the WRERR_STAT bit stuck on perma‐
              nently.  This enables a work-around for these broken devices.

       The 'hd=cdrom' option
              This tells the IDE driver that there is an ATAPI compatible
              CD-ROM attached in place of a normal IDE hard disk.  In most
              cases the CD-ROM is identified automatically, but if it isn't
              then this may help.

       Standard ST-506 Disk Driver Options ('hd=')
              The standard disk driver can accept geometry arguments for the
              disks similar to the IDE driver.  Note however that it expects
              only three values (C/H/S); any more or any less and it will
              silently ignore you.  Also, it accepts only 'hd=' as an argu‐
              ment, that is, 'hda=' and so on are not valid here.  The for‐
              mat is as follows:


              If there are two disks installed, the above is repeated with
              the geometry parameters of the second disk.

   Ethernet devices
       Different drivers make use of different parameters, but they all at
       least share having an IRQ, an I/O port base value, and a name.  In
       its most generic form, it looks something like this:


       The first nonnumeric argument is taken as the name.  The param_n val‐
       ues (if applicable) usually have different meanings for each differ‐
       ent card/driver.  Typical param_n values are used to specify things
       like shared memory address, interface selection, DMA channel and the

       The most common use of this parameter is to force probing for a sec‐
       ond ethercard, as the default is to probe only for one.  This can be
       accomplished with a simple:


       Note that the values of zero for the IRQ and I/O base in the above
       example tell the driver(s) to autoprobe.

       The Ethernet-HowTo has extensive documentation on using multiple
       cards and on the card/driver-specific implementation of the param_n
       values where used.  Interested readers should refer to the section in
       that document on their particular card.

   The floppy disk driver
       There are many floppy driver options, and they are all listed in Doc‐
       umentation/blockdev/floppy.txt (or Documentation/floppy.txt in older
       kernels, or drivers/block/README.fd for ancient kernels) in the Linux
       kernel source.  See that file for the details.

   The sound driver
       The sound driver can also accept boot arguments to override the com‐
       piled-in values.  This is not recommended, as it is rather complex.
       It is described in the Linux kernel source file Documenta‐
       tion/sound/oss/README.OSS (drivers/sound/Readme.linux in older kernel
       versions).  It accepts a boot argument of the form:


       where each deviceN value is of the following format 0xTaaaId and the
       bytes are used as follows:

       T - device type: 1=FM, 2=SB, 3=PAS, 4=GUS, 5=MPU401, 6=SB16,

       aaa - I/O address in hex.

       I - interrupt line in hex (i.e., 10=a, 11=b, ...)

       d - DMA channel.

       As you can see, it gets pretty messy, and you are better off to com‐
       pile in your own personal values as recommended.  Using a boot argu‐
       ment of 'sound=0' will disable the sound driver entirely.

   The line printer driver


              You can tell the printer driver what ports to use and what
              ports not to use.  The latter comes in handy if you don't want
              the printer driver to claim all available parallel ports, so
              that other drivers (e.g., PLIP, PPA) can use them instead.

              The format of the argument is multiple port names.  For exam‐
              ple, lp=none,parport0 would use the first parallel port for
              lp1, and disable lp0.  To disable the printer driver entirely,
              one can use lp=0.

SEE ALSO         top

       klogd(8), mount(8)

       For up-to-date information, see the kernel source file

COLOPHON         top

       This page is part of release 5.08 of the Linux man-pages project.  A
       description of the project, information about reporting bugs, and the
       latest version of this page, can be found at

Linux                            2017-09-15                     BOOTPARAM(7)

Pages that refer to this page: reboot(2)boot(7)kernel-command-line(7)