Welcome to Linux Knowledge Base and Tutorial
"The place where you learn linux"
Linux Magazine

 Create an AccountHome | Submit News | Your Account  

Tutorial Menu
Linux Tutorial Home
Table of Contents

· Introduction to Operating Systems
· Linux Basics
· Working with the System
· Shells and Utilities
· Editing Files
· Basic Administration
· The Operating System
· The X Windowing System
· The Computer Itself
· Networking
· System Monitoring
· Solving Problems
· Security
· Installing and Upgrading
· Linux and Windows

Man Pages
Linux Topics
Test Your Knowledge

Site Menu
Site Map
Copyright Info
Terms of Use
Privacy Info
Masthead / Impressum
Your Account

Private Messages

News Archive
Submit News
User Articles
Web Links


The Web

Who's Online
There are currently, 80 guest(s) and 0 member(s) that are online.

You are an Anonymous user. You can register for free by clicking here



Current HOWTO: Linux 2.4.x Initialization for IA-32 HOWTO

Linux 2.4.x Initialization for IA-32 HOWTO: Linux architecture-independent initialization Next Previous Contents

5. Linux architecture-independent initialization

(from "linux/init/main.c")

"linux/init/main.c" begins execution with the start_kernel() function, which is called from "linux/arch/i386/kernel/head.S". start_kernel() never returns to its caller. It ends by calling the cpu_idle() function.

5.1 start_kernel:

Interrupts are still disabled. Do necessary setups, then enable them.

Lock the kernel (BKL: big kernel lock).

Print the linux_banner string (this string resides in "linux/init/version.c") using printk(). NOTE: printk() doesn't actually print this to the console yet; it just buffers the string until a console device registers itself with the kernel, then the kernel passes the buffered console log contents to the registered console device(s). There can be multiple registered console devices.

********** printk() can be called very early because it doesn't actually print to anywhere. It just logs the message to "log_buf", which is allocated statically in "linux/kernel/printk.c". The messages that are saved in "log_buf" are passed to registered console devices as they register. **********

More architecture-specific init

Call setup_arch(&command_line):

This performs architecture-specific initializations (details below). Then back to architecture-independent initialization....

The remainder of start_kernel() is done as follows for all processor architecures, although several of these function calls are to architecture-specific setup/init functions.

Continue architecture-independent init

Print the kernel command line.

Parsing command line options

parse_options(command_line): Parse the kernel options on the command line. This is a simple kernel command line parsing function. It parses the command line and fills in the arguments and environment to init (thread) as appropriate. Any command-line option is taken to be an environment variable if it contains the character '='. It also checks for options meant for the kernel by calling checksetup(), which checks the command line for kernel parameters, these being specified by declaring them using "__setup", as in:

__setup("debug", debug_kernel);

This declaration causes the debug_kernel() function to be called when the string "debug" is scanned. See "linux/Documentation/kernel-parameters.txt" for the list of kernel parameters.

These options are not given to init -- they are for internal kernel use only. The default argument list for the init thread is {"init", NULL}, with a maximum of 8 command-line arguments. The default environment list for the init thread is {"HOME=/", "TERM=linux", NULL}, with a maximum of 8 command-line environment variable settings. In case LILO is going to boot us with default command line, it prepends "auto" before the whole cmdline which makes the shell think it should execute a script with such name. So we ignore all arguments entered _before_ init=... [MJ]


(in linux/arch/i386/kernel/traps.c)

Install exception handlers for basic processor exceptions, i.e., not hardware device interrupt handlers.

Install the handler for the system call software interrupt.

Install handlers for lcall7 (for iBCS) and lcall27 (for Solaris/x86 binaries).

Call cpu_init() to do:

  • initialize per-CPU state
  • reload the GDT and IDT
  • mask off the eflags NT (Nested Task) bit
  • set up and load the per-CPU TSS and LDT
  • clear 6 debug registers (0, 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7)
  • stts(): set the 0x08 bit (TS: Task Switched) in CR0 to enable lazy register saves on context switches


(in linux/arch/i386/kernel/i8259.c)

Call init_ISA_irqs() to initialize the two 8259A interrupt controllers and install default interrupt handlers for the ISA IRQs.

Set an interrupt gate for all unused interrupt vectors.

For CONFIG_SMP configurations, set up IRQ 0 early, since it's used before the IO APIC is set up.

For CONFIG_SMP, install the interrupt handler for CPU-to-CPU IPIs that are used for the "reschedule helper."

For CONFIG_SMP, install the interrupt handler for the IPI that is used to invalidate TLBs.

For CONFIG_SMP, install the interrupt handler for the IPI that is used for generic function calls.

For CONFIG_X86_LOCAL_APIC configurations, install the interrupt handler for the self-generated local APIC timer IPI.

For CONFIG_X86_LOCAL_APIC configurations, install interrupt handlers for spurious and error interrupts.

Set the system's clock chip to generate a timer tick interrupt every HZ Hz.

If the system has an external FPU, set up IRQ 13 to handle floating point exceptions.


(in linux/kernel/sched.c)

  • Set the init_task's processor ID.
  • Clear the pidhash table. TBD: Why? isn't it in BSS?
  • call init_timervecs()
  • call init_bh() to init "bottom half" queues for timer_bh, tqueue_bh, and immediate_bh.


(in linux/arch/i386/kernel/time.c)

Initialize the system's current time of day (xtime) from CMOS.

Install the irq0 timer tick interrupt handler.


(in linux/kernel/softirq.c)


(in linux/drivers/char/tty_io.c)

HACK ALERT! This is early. We're enabling the console before we've done PCI setups etc., and console_init() must be aware of this. But we do want output early, in case something goes wrong.


(in linux/kernel/module.c)

For CONFIG_MODULES configurations, call init_modules(). This initializes the size (or number of symbols) of the kernel symbol table.

Profiling setup

if profiling ("profile=#" on the kernel command line): calculate the kernel text (code) profile "segment" size; calculate the profile buffer size in pages (round up); allocate the profile buffer: prof_buffer = alloc_bootmem(size);


(in linux/mm/slab.c)


********** Interrupts are now enabled. **********
This allows "calibrate_delay()" (below) to work.


Calculate the "loops_per_jiffy" delay loop value and print it in BogoMIPS.

INITRD setup


        if (initrd_start && !initrd_below_start_ok &&
                        initrd_start < (min_low_pfn << PAGE_SHIFT)) {
                printk("initrd overwritten (initrd_start < (min_low_pfn << PAGE_SHIFT)) - disabling it.\n");
                initrd_start = 0;       // mark initrd as disabled



(in linux/arch/i386/mm/init.c)

  • Clear the empty_zero_page.
  • Call free_all_bootmem() and add that released memory to totalram_pages.
  • Count the number of reserved RAM pages.
  • Print the system memory sizes (free/total), kernel code size, reserved memory size, kernel data size, kernel "init" size, and the highmem size.
  • For CONFIG_SMP, call zap_low_mappings().

********** get_free_pages() can be used after mem_init(). **********


(in linux/mm/slab.c)

Set up remaining internal and general caches. Called after the "get_free_page()" functions have been enabled and before smp_init().

********** kmalloc() can be used after kmem_cache_sizes_init(). **********


(in linux/fs/proc/root.c)

For CONFIG_PROC_FS configurations:

  • call proc_misc_init()
  • mkdir /proc/net
  • for CONFIG_SYSVIPC, mkdir /proc/sysvipc
  • for CONFIG_SYSCTL, mkdir /proc/sys
  • mkdir /proc/fs
  • mkdir /proc/driver
  • call proc_tty_init()
  • mkdir /proc/bus

mempages = num_physpages;


(in linux/kernel/fork.c)

The default maximum number of threads is set to a safe value: the thread structures can take up at most half of memory.


(in linux/kernel/fork.c)

Call kmem_cache_create() to create slab caches for signal_act (signal action), files_cache (files_struct), fs_cache (fs_struct), vm_area_struct, and mm_struct.


(in linux/fs/dcache.c)

Call kmem_cache_create() to create slab caches for buffer_head, names_cache, filp, and for CONFIG_QUOTA, dquot.

Call dcache_init() to create the dentry_cache and dentry_hashtable.


(in linux/fs/buffer.c)

Allocate the buffer cache hash table and init the free list.
Use get_free_pages() for the hash table to decrease TLB misses; use SLAB cache for buffer heads.
Setup the hash chains, free lists, and LRU lists.


(in linux/mm/filemap.c)

Allocate and clear the page-cache hash table.


(in linux/fs/iobuf.c)

Call kmem_cache_create() to create the kernel iobuf cache.


(in linux/kernel/signal.c)

Call kmem_cache_create() to create the "sigqueue" SLAB cache.


(in linux/fs/block_dev.c)

Initialize the bdev_hashtable list heads.

Call kmem_cache_create() to create the "bdev_cache" SLAB cache.


(in linux/fs/inode.c)

  • Allocate memory for the inode_hashtable.
  • Intialize the inode_hashtable list heads.
  • Call kmem_cache_create() to create the inode SLAB cache.


(in linux/ipc/util.c)

For CONFIG_SYSVIPC configurations, call ipc_init().

The various System V IPC resources (semaphores, messages, and shared memory) are initialized.


(in linux/fs/dquot.c)

For CONFIG_QUOTA configurations, call dquot_init_hash().

  • Clear dquot_hash. TBD: Why? Is it in BSS? Yes.
  • Clear dqstats. TBD: Why? Is it in BSS? Yes.


(in linux/include/asm-i386/bugs.h)

  • identify_cpu()
  • For non-CONFIG_SMP configurations, print_cpu_info()
  • check_config()
  • check_fpu()
  • check_hlt()
  • check_popad()
  • Update system_utsname.machine{byte 1} with boot_cpu_data.x86

Start other SMP processors (as applicable)

smp_init() works in one of three ways, depending upon the kernel configuration.

For a uniprocessor (UP) system without an IO APIC (CONFIG_X86_IO_APIC is not defined), smp_init() is empty -- it has nothing to do.

For a UP system with (an) IO APIC for interrupt routing, it calls IO_APIC_init_uniprocessor().

For an SMP system, its main job is to call the architecture-specific function "smp_boot_cpus()", which does the following.

  • For CONFIG_MTRR kernels, calls mtrr_init_boot_cpu(), which must be done before the other processors are booted.
  • Stores and prints the BSP CPU information.
  • Saves the BSP APIC ID and BSP logical CPU ID (latter is 0).
  • If an MP BIOS interrupt routing table was not found, revert to using only one CPU and exit.
  • Verify existence of a local APIC for the BSP.
  • If the "maxcpus" boot option was used to limit the number of CPUs actually used to 1 (not SMP), then ignore the MP BIOS interrupt routing table.
  • Switch the system from PIC mode to symmetric I/O interrupt mode.
  • Setup the BSP's local APIC.
  • Use the CPU present map to boot the APs serially. Wait for each AP to finish booting before starting the next one.
  • If using (an) IO APIC {which is True unless the "noapic" boot option was used}, setup the IO APIC(s).

Start init thread

We count on the initial thread going OK.

Like idlers, init is an unlocked kernel thread, which will make syscalls (and thus be locked).

kernel_thread(init, NULL, CLONE_FS | CLONE_FILES | CLONE_SIGNAL);

{details below}


Release the BKL.

current->need_resched = 1;


This function remains as process number 0. Its purpose is to use up idle CPU cycles. If the kernel is configured for APM support or ACPI support, cpu_idle() invokes the supported power-saving features of these specifications. Otherwise it nominally executes a "hlt" instruction.

{end of start_kernel()}

5.2 setup_arch

(in "linux/arch/i386/kernel/setup.c")

Copy and convert system parameter data

Copy and convert parameter data passed from 16-bit real mode to the 32-bit startup code.

For RAMdisk-enabled configs (CONFIG_BLK_DEV_RAM)

Initialize rd_image_start, rd_prompt, and rd_doload from the real-mode parameter data.


Use the BIOS-supplied memory map to setup memory regions.

Set memory limits

Set values for the start of kernel code, end of kernel code, end of kernel data, and "_end" (end of kernel code = the "brk" address).

Set values for code_resource start and end and data_resource start and end.


Parse any "mem=" parameters on the kernel command line and remember them.

Setup Page Frames

Use the BIOS-supplied memory map to setup page frames.

Register available low RAM pages with the bootmem allocator.

Reserve physical page 0: "it's a special BIOS page on many boxes, enabling clean reboots, SMP operation, laptop functions."

Handle SMP and IO APIC Configurations

For CONFIG_SMP, reserve the page immediately above page 0 for stack and trampoline usage, then call smp_alloc_memory() to allocate low memory for AP processor(s) real mode trampoline code.

For CONFIG_X86_IO_APIC configurations, call find_smp_config() to find and reserve any boot-time SMP configuration information memory, such as MP (Multi Processor) table data from the BIOS.


paging_init() sets up the page tables - note that the first 8 MB are already mapped by head.S.

This routine also unmaps the page at virtual kernel address 0, so that we can trap those pesky NULL-reference errors in the kernel.

Save the boot-time SMP configuration

For CONFIG_X86_IO_APIC configurations, call get_smp_config() to read and save the MP table IO APIC interrupt routing configuration data.

For CONFIG_X86_LOCAL_APIC configurations, call init_apic_mappings().

Reserve INITRD memory

For CONFIG_BLK_DEV_INITRD configurations, if there is enough memory for the initial RamDisk, call reserve_bootmem() to reserve RAM for the initial RamDisk.

Scan for option ROMs

Call probe_roms() and reserve their memory space resource(s) if found and valid. This is done for the standard video BIOS ROM image, any option ROMs found, and for the system board extension ROM (space).

Reserve system resources

Call request_resource() to reserve video RAM memory.

Call request_resource() to reserve all standard PC I/O system board resources.

{end of setup_arch()}

5.3 init thread

The init thread begins at the init() function in "linux/init/main.c". This is always expected to be process number 1.

init() first locks the kernel and then calls do_basic_setup() to perform lots of bus and/or device initialization {more detail below}. After do_basic_setup(), most kernel initialization has been completed. init() then frees any memory that was specified as being for initialization only [marked with "__init", "__initdata", "__init_call", or "__initsetup"] and unlocks the kernel (BKL).

init() next opens /dev/console and duplicates that file descriptor two times to create stdin, stdout, and stderr files for init and all of its children.

Finally init() tries to execute the command specified on the kernel parameters command line if there was one, or an init program or script if it can find one in {/sbin/init, /etc/init, /bin/init}, and lastly /bin/sh. If init() cannot execute any of these, it panics ("No init found. Try passing init= option to kernel.")

5.4 do_basic_setup {part of the init thread}

The machine is now initialized. None of the devices have been touched yet, but the CPU subsystem is up and running, and memory and process management works.

Be the reaper of orphaned children

The init process handles all orphaned tasks.


// SMP init is completed before this.
For CONFIG_MTRR, call mtrr_init() [in linux/arch/i386/kernel/mtrr.c].


For CONFIG_SYSCTL configurations, call sysctl_init() [in linux/kernel/sysctl.c].

Init Many Devices

 * Ok, at this point all CPU's should be initialized, so
 * we can start looking into devices..


For CONFIG_PCI configurations, call pci_init() [in linux/drivers/pci/pci.c].

Micro Channel

For CONFIG_MCA configurations, call mca_init() [in linux/arch/i386/kernel/mca.c].


For CONFIG_ISAPNP configurations, call isapnp_init() [in linux/drivers/pnp/isapnp.c].

Networking Init

        /* Networking initialization needs a process context */
[in linux/net/socket.c]

Initial RamDisk


        real_root_dev = ROOT_DEV;
        real_root_mountflags = root_mountflags;
        if (initrd_start && mount_initrd)
                root_mountflags &= ~MS_RDONLY;      // change to read/write
                mount_initrd =0;


Start the kernel "context" thread (keventd)

[in linux/kernel/context.c]


Call all functions marked as "__initcall":

[in linux/init/main.c]

This initializes many functions and some subsystems --- in no specific or guaranteed order unless fixed in their Makefiles --- if they were built into the kernel, such as:

  • APM: apm_init() {in linux/arch/i386/kernel/apm.c}
  • cpuid: cpuid_init() {in linux/arch/i386/kernel/cpuid.c}
  • DMI: dmi_scan_machine() {in linux/arch/i386/kernel/dmi_scan.c}
  • microcode: microcode_init() {in linux/arch/i386/kernel/microcode.c}
  • MSR: msr_init() {in linux/arch/i386/kernel/msr.c}
  • partitions: partition_setup() {in linux/fs/partitions/check.s}
  • file systems, pipes, buffer and cache management, various binary format loaders, NLS character sets: too numerous to list {in linux/fs/*}
  • user cache (for limits): uid_cache_init() {in linux/kernel/user.c}
  • kmem_cpu_cache: kmem_cpucache_init() {in linux/mm/slab.c}
  • shmem: init_shmem_fs() {in linux/mm/shmem.c}
  • kswapd: kswapd_init() {in linux/mm/vmscan.c}
  • networking, TCP/IP, IPv6, sockets, 802.2, SNAP, LLC, X.25, AX.25, IPX, kHTTPd, ATM LAN emulation (LANE), IP chains/forwarding, NAT/masquerading, packet matching/filtering/logging, firewalling, DECnet, bridging, and other networking protocols too numerous to list {in linux/net/*}
  • drivers, some of which are not exactly device drivers, but help out with bus/device enumeration and initialization, such as:
  • ACPI: acpi_init() {in linux/drivers/acpi/*}
  • PCI: pci_proc_init() {in linux/drivers/pci/*}
  • PCMCIA controllers {in linux/drivers/pcmcia/*}
  • and...
  • atm drivers {in linux/drivers/atm/*}
  • block drivers {in linux/drivers/block/*}
  • CD-ROM drivers {in linux/drivers/cdrom/*}
  • character drivers {in linux/drivers/char/*}
  • I2O drivers {in linux/drivers/i2o/*}
  • IDE drivers {in linux/drivers/ide/*}
  • input drivers (keyboard/mouse/joystick) {in linux/drivers/input/*}
  • ISDN drivers {in linux/drivers/isdn/*}
  • md, LVM, and RAID drivers {in linux/drivers/md/*}
  • radio drivers {in linux/drivers/media/radio/*}
  • video drivers {in linux/drivers/media/video/*}
  • MTD drivers {in linux/drivers/mtd/*}
  • network drivers, including PLIP, PPP, dummy, Ethernet, bonding, Arcnet, hamradio, PCMCIA, Token Ring, and WAN
  • SCSI logical and physical drivers {in linux/drivers/scsi/*}
  • sound drivers {in linux/drivers/sound/*}
  • telephony drivers {in linux/drivers/telephony/*}
  • USB host controllers and device drivers {in linux/drivers/usb/*}
  • video frame buffer drivers {in linux/drivers/video/*}


Call filesystem_setup():

  • init_devfs_fs(); /* Header file may make this empty */
  • For CONFIG_NFS_FS configurations, call init_nfs_fs().
  • For CONFIG_DEVPTS_FS configurations, call init_devpts_fs().
[in linux/fs/filesystems.c]


For CONFIG_IRDA configurations, call irda_device_init().
/* Must be done after protocol initialization */
[in linux/net/irda/irda_device.c]


/* Do this last */
For CONFIG_PCMCIA configurations, call init_pcmcia_ds().
[in linux/drivers/pcmcia/ds.c]

Mount the root filesystem

[in linux/fs/super.c]

Mount the dev (device) filesystem

        mount_devfs_fs ();
[in linux/fs/devfs/base.c]

Switch to the Initial RamDisk


        if (mount_initrd && MAJOR(ROOT_DEV) == RAMDISK_MAJOR && MINOR(ROOT_DEV) == 0) {
                // Start the linuxrc thread.
                pid = kernel_thread(do_linuxrc, "/linuxrc", SIGCHLD);
                if (pid > 0)
                        while (pid != wait(&i));
                if (MAJOR(real_root_dev) != RAMDISK_MAJOR
                     || MINOR(real_root_dev) != 0) {
                        error = change_root(real_root_dev,"/initrd");
                        if (error)
                                printk(KERN_ERR "Change root to /initrd: "
                                    "error %d\n",error);


See "linux/Documentation/initrd.txt" for more information on initial RAM disks.

{end of do_basic_setup()}

Next Previous Contents

The Linux Tutorial completely respects the rights of authors and artists to decide for themselves if and how their works can be used, independent of any existing licenses. This means if you are the author of any document presented on this site and do no wish it to be displayed as it is on this site or do not wish it to be displayed at all, please contact us and we will do our very best to accommodate you. If we are unable to accommodate you, we will, at your request, remove your document as quickly as possible.

If you are the author of any document presented on this site and would like a share of the advertising revenue, please contact us using the standard Feedback Form.


More information about the site can be found in the FAQ



Security Code
Security Code
Type Security Code

Don't have an account yet? You can create one. As a registered user you have some advantages like theme manager, comments configuration and post comments with your name.

Help if you can!

Amazon Wish List

Did You Know?
You can help in many different ways.


Tell a Friend About Us

Bookmark and Share

Web site powered by PHP-Nuke

Is this information useful? At the very least you can help by spreading the word to your favorite newsgroups, mailing lists and forums.
All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner. The comments are property of their posters. Articles are the property of their respective owners. Unless otherwise stated in the body of the article, article content (C) 1994-2013 by James Mohr. All rights reserved. The stylized page/paper, as well as the terms "The Linux Tutorial", "The Linux Server Tutorial", "The Linux Knowledge Base and Tutorial" and "The place where you learn Linux" are service marks of James Mohr. All rights reserved.
The Linux Knowledge Base and Tutorial may contain links to sites on the Internet, which are owned and operated by third parties. The Linux Tutorial is not responsible for the content of any such third-party site. By viewing/utilizing this web site, you have agreed to our disclaimer, terms of use and privacy policy. Use of automated download software ("harvesters") such as wget, httrack, etc. causes the site to quickly exceed its bandwidth limitation and are therefore expressly prohibited. For more details on this, take a look here

PHP-Nuke Copyright © 2004 by Francisco Burzi. This is free software, and you may redistribute it under the GPL. PHP-Nuke comes with absolutely no warranty, for details, see the license.
Page Generation: 0.50 Seconds