systemd-boot, sd-boot — A simple UEFI boot manager
systemd-boot (short: sd-boot) is a simple UEFI boot manager. It provides a graphical menu to select the entry to boot and an editor for the kernel command line. systemd-boot supports systems with UEFI firmware only.
systemd-boot loads boot entry information from the EFI system partition (ESP), usually mounted at
/boot/efi during OS
runtime. Configuration file fragments, kernels, initrds and other EFI images to boot generally need to reside on
the ESP. Linux kernels must be built with
CONFIG_EFI_STUB to be able to be directly executed as an
EFI image. During boot systemd-boot automatically assembles a list of boot entries from the following
Boot entries defined with Boot Loader
Specification description files located in
/loader/entries/ on the ESP. These
usually describe Linux kernel images with associated initrd images, but alternatively may also describe
arbitrary other EFI executables.
Unified kernel images following the Boot Loader
Specification, as executable EFI binaries in
/EFI/Linux/ on the ESP.
The Microsoft Windows EFI boot manager, if installed
The Apple MacOS X boot manager, if installed
The EFI Shell binary, if installed
A reboot into the UEFI firmware setup option, if supported by the firmware
kernel-install(8) may be used to copy kernel images onto the ESP and to generate description files compliant with the Boot Loader Specification. bootctl(1) may be used from a running system to locate the ESP, list available entries, and install systemd-boot itself.
The following keys may be used in the boot menu:
Navigate up/down in the entry list
Boot selected entry
Make selected entry the default
Edit the kernel command line for selected entry
Increase the timeout before default entry is booted
Decrease the timeout
Show systemd-boot, UEFI, and firmware versions
Show a help screen
Reprint the screen
The following keys may be used during bootup or in the boot menu to directly boot a specific entry:
In the editor, most keys simply insert themselves, but the following keys may be used to perform additional actions:
Note that unless configured otherwise in the UEFI firmware, systemd-boot will use the US keyboard layout, so key labels might not match for keys like +/-.
The files systemd-boot reads generally reside on the UEFI ESP which is usually mounted to
/boot/efi during OS
runtime. systemd-boot reads runtime configuration such as the boot timeout and default entry from
/loader/loader.conf on the ESP (in combination with data read from EFI variables). See
loader.conf(5). Boot entry
description files following the Boot Loader
Specification are read from
/loader/entries/ on the ESP. Unified kernel boot entries
following the Boot
Loader Specification are read from
/EFI/Linux/ on the ESP.
The following EFI variables are defined, set and read by systemd-boot, under the vendor
4a67b082-0a4c-41cf-b6c7-440b29bb8c4", for communication between the OS and the boot
If boot counting is enabled, contains the path to the file in whose name the boot counters are
encoded. Set by the boot
uses this information to mark a boot as successful as determined by the successful activation of the
boot-complete.target target unit.
The menu timeout in seconds. Read by the boot loader.
is maintained persistently, while
LoaderConfigTimeoutOneShot is a one-time override which is
read once (in which case it takes precedence over
LoaderConfigTimeout) and then
LoaderConfigTimeout may be manipulated with the
t/T keys, see above.)
Contains the partition UUID of the EFI System Partition the boot loader was run from. Set by the boot loader. systemd-gpt-auto-generator(8) uses this information to automatically find the disk booted from, in order to discover various other partitions on the same disk automatically.
A list of the identifiers of all discovered boot loader entries. Set by the boot loader.
The identifier of the default boot loader entry. Set primarily by the OS and read by the boot
LoaderEntryOneShot sets the default entry for the next boot only, while
LoaderEntryDefault sets it persistently for all future
set-oneshot commands make use of these variables. The boot
LoaderEntryDefault on request, when the d key is used, see
The identifier of the boot loader entry currently being booted. Set by the boot loader.
A set of flags indicating the features the boot loader supports. Set by the boot loader. Use bootctl(1) to view this data.
Brief firmware information. Set by the boot loader. Use bootctl(1) to view this data.
The path of executable of the boot loader used for the current boot, relative to the EFI System Partition's root directory. Set by the boot loader. Use bootctl(1) to view this data.
Brief information about the boot loader. Set by the boot loader. Use bootctl(1) to view this data.
systemd-boot implements a simple boot counting mechanism on top of the Boot Loader Specification, for automatic and unattended
fallback to older kernel versions/boot loader entries when a specific entry continously fails. Any boot loader
entry file and unified kernel image file that contains a "
+" followed by one or two numbers (if
two they need to be separated by a "
-"), before the
.efi suffix is subject to boot counting: the first of the two numbers ('tries left') is
decreased by one on every boot attempt, the second of the two numbers ('tries done') is increased by one (if 'tries
done' is absent it is considered equivalent to 0). Depending on the current value of these two counters the boot
entry is considered to be in one of three states:
If the 'tries left' counter of an entry is greater than zero the entry is considered to be in 'indeterminate' state. This means the entry has not completed booting successfully yet, but also hasn't been determined not to work.
If the 'tries left' counter of an entry is zero it is considered to be in 'bad' state. This means no further attempts to boot this item will be made (that is, unless all other boot entries are also in 'bad' state), as all attempts to boot this entry have not completed successfully.
If the 'tries left' and 'tries done' counters of an entry are absent it is considered to be in 'good' state. This means further boot counting for the entry is turned off, as it successfully booted at least once. The systemd-bless-boot.service(8) service moves the currently booted entry from 'indeterminate' into 'good' state when a boot attempt completed successfully.
Generally, when new entries are added to the boot loader, they first start out in 'indeterminate' state, i.e. with a 'tries left' counter greater than zero. The boot entry remains in this state until either it managed to complete a full boot successfully at least once (in which case it will be in 'good' state) — or the 'tries left' counter reaches zero (in which case it will be in 'bad' state).
Example: let's say a boot loader entry file
foo.conf is set up for 3 boot tries. The
installer will hence create it under the name
foo+3.conf. On first boot, the boot loader will
rename it to
foo+2-1.conf. If that boot does not complete successfully, the boot loader will
rename it to
foo+1-2.conf on the following boot. If that fails too, it will finally be renamed
foo+0-3.conf by the boot loader on next boot, after which it will be considered 'bad'. If the
boot succeeds however the entry file will be renamed to
foo.conf by the OS, so that it is
considered 'good' from then on.
The boot menu takes the 'tries left' counter into account when sorting the menu entries: entries in 'bad' state are ordered at the end of the list, and entries in 'good' or 'indeterminate' at the beginning. The user can freely choose to boot any entry of the menu, including those already marked 'bad'. If the menu entry to boot is automatically determined, this means that 'good' or 'indeterminate' entries are generally preferred (as the top item of the menu is the one booted by default), and 'bad' entries will only be considered if there are no 'good' or 'indeterminate' entries left.
The kernel-install(8) kernel
install framework optionally sets the initial 'tries left' counter to the value specified in
/etc/kernel/tries when a boot loader entry is first created.