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 {-u|-U}
− uninstall lilo


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


Increase verbosity. Giving one or more -v options will make lilo more verbose.


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.

−m map-file

Use specified map file instead of the default.

−C config-file

lilo reads its instructions about what files to map from its config file, by default /etc/lilo.conf. This option can be used to specify a non-default config file.

−d delay

If you have specified several kernels, and press Shift at boot-time, the boot loader will present you with a choice of which system to boot. After a timeout period the first kernel in the list is booted. This option specifies the timeout delay in deciseconds.

−D label

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

−r root-directory

Before doing anything else, do a chroot to the indicated directory. Used for repairing a setup from a boot floppy.


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.


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

−f disk-tab

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

−i boot-sector

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


Generate linear sector addresses instead of sector/head/cylinder addresses.

−P {fix|ignore}

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

−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.

−u device-name

Uninstall lilo, by copying the saved boot sector back. A time-stamp is checked.

−U device-name

Idem, but do not check the time-stamp.

−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’.

−I label

The label of the running kernel can be found in the environment variable BOOT_IMAGE after startup. This command will print the corresponding path name on stdout.


Print version number.

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


The lilo distribution comes with very extensive documentation.


Werner Almesberger (