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Welcome to the FreeBSD Architecture Handbook. This manual is a <emphasis>work in progress</emphasis> and is the work of many individuals. Many sections do not yet exist and some of those that do exist need to be updated. If you are interested in helping with this project, send email to the <link xlink:href="http://lists.FreeBSD.org/mailman/listinfo/freebsd-doc">FreeBSD documentation project mailing list</link>.
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Kernel
Bootstrapping and Kernel Initialization
<personname> <firstname>Sergey</firstname> <surname>Lyubka</surname> </personname> <contrib>Contributed by </contrib>
<personname> <firstname>Sergio Andrés</firstname> <surname> Gómez del Real</surname> </personname> <contrib>Updated and enhanced by </contrib>
Synopsis
<primary>BIOS</primary>
<primary>firmware</primary>
<primary>POST</primary>
<primary>IA-32</primary>
<primary>booting</primary>
<primary>system initialization</primary>
This chapter is an overview of the boot and system initialization processes, starting from the <acronym>BIOS</acronym> (firmware) <acronym>POST</acronym>, to the first user process creation. Since the initial steps of system startup are very architecture dependent, the IA-32 architecture is used as an example.
The FreeBSD boot process can be surprisingly complex. After control is passed from the <acronym>BIOS</acronym>, a considerable amount of low-level configuration must be done before the kernel can be loaded and executed. This setup must be done in a simple and flexible manner, allowing the user a great deal of customization possibilities.
Overview
The boot process is an extremely machine-dependent activity. Not only must code be written for every computer architecture, but there may also be multiple types of booting on the same architecture. For example, a directory listing of <filename>/usr/src/sys/boot</filename> reveals a great amount of architecture-dependent code. There is a directory for each of the various supported architectures. In the x86-specific <filename>i386</filename> directory, there are subdirectories for different boot standards like <filename>mbr</filename> (Master Boot Record), <filename>gpt</filename> (<acronym>GUID</acronym> Partition Table), and <filename>efi</filename> (Extensible Firmware Interface). Each boot standard has its own conventions and data structures. The example that follows shows booting an x86 computer from an <acronym>MBR</acronym> hard drive with the FreeBSD <filename>boot0</filename> multi-boot loader stored in the very first sector. That boot code starts the FreeBSD three-stage boot process.
The key to understanding this process is that it is a series of stages of increasing complexity. These stages are <filename>boot1</filename>, <filename>boot2</filename>, and <filename>loader</filename> (see <citerefentry><refentrytitle>boot</refentrytitle><manvolnum>8</manvolnum></citerefentry> for more detail). The boot system executes each stage in sequence. The last stage, <filename>loader</filename>, is responsible for loading the FreeBSD kernel. Each stage is examined in the following sections.
Here is an example of the output generated by the different boot stages. Actual output may differ from machine to machine:
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Source string comment
(itstool) path: authorgroup/author
Flags
read-only
Source string location
book.translate.xml:265
String age
a year ago
Source string age
a year ago
Translation file
books/arch-handbook.pot, string 20