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SYSLINUX(1)							   SYSLINUX(1)

       syslinux - install the SYSLINUX bootloader on a FAT filesystem

       syslinux [OPTIONS] device

       Syslinux is a boot loader for the Linux operating system which operates
       off an MS-DOS/Windows FAT filesystem. It is intended to simplify first-
       time  installation  of Linux, and for creation of rescue and other spe‐
       cial-purpose boot disks.

       In order to create a bootable Linux floppy using	 Syslinux,  prepare  a
       normal  MS-DOS formatted floppy. Copy one or more Linux kernel files to
       it, then execute the command:

	      syslinux --install /dev/fd0

       This will alter the boot sector on the  disk  and  copy	a  file	 named
       ldlinux.sys into its root directory.

       On  boot	 time,	by  default,  the kernel will be loaded from the image
       named LINUX on the boot floppy.	This default can be changed,  see  the
       section on the syslinux configuration file.

       If  the	Shift  or  Alt	keys are held down during boot, or the Caps or
       Scroll locks are set, syslinux will display a  lilo(8)  -style  "boot:"
       prompt.	The user can then type a kernel file name followed by any ker‐
       nel parameters. The SYSLINUX bootloader does not need to know about the
       kernel  file  in	 advance;  all	that  is required is that it is a file
       located in the root directory on the disk.

       Syslinux supports the loading of	 initial  ramdisks  (initrd)  and  the
       bzImage kernel format.

       -i, --install
	      Install  SYSLINUX	 on  a	new medium, overwriting any previously
	      installed bootloader.

       -U, --update
	      Install SYSLINUX on a new medium if and only  if	a  version  of
	      SYSLINUX is already installed.

       -s, --stupid
	      Install a "safe, slow and stupid" version of SYSLINUX. This ver‐
	      sion may work on some very buggy BIOSes on which SYSLINUX	 would
	      otherwise fail.  If you find a machine on which the -s option is
	      required to make it boot reliably,  please  send	as  much  info
	      about your machine as you can, and include the failure mode.

       -f, --force
	      Force install even if it appears unsafe.

       -r, --raid
	      RAID mode.  If boot fails, tell the BIOS to boot the next device
	      in the boot sequence (usually the next  hard  disk)  instead  of
	      stopping with an error message.  This is useful for RAID-1 boot‐

       -d, --directory subdirectory
	      Install the SYSLINUX control files in a  subdirectory  with  the
	      specified name (relative to the root directory on the device).

       -t, --offset offset
	      Indicates	 that  the filesystem is at an offset from the base of
	      the device or file.

       --once command
	      Declare a boot command to be tried on the first boot only.

       -O, --clear-once
	      Clear the boot-once command.

       -H, --heads head-count
	      Override the detected number of heads for the geometry.

       -S, --sectors sector-count
	      Override the detected number of sectors for the geometry.

       -z, --zipdrive
	      Assume zipdrive geometry (--heads 64 --sectors 32).

   Configuration file
       All the configurable defaults in SYSLINUX can be changed by  putting  a
       file  called  syslinux.cfg  in  the install directory of the boot disk.
       This is a text file in either UNIX or DOS  format,  containing  one  or
       more of the following items (case is insensitive for keywords).

       This list is out of date.

       In  the configuration file blank lines and comment lines beginning with
       a hash mark (#) are ignored.

       default kernel [ options ... ]
	      Sets the default command line. If syslinux boots	automatically,
	      it  will	act  just  as  if the entries after "default" had been
	      typed in at the "boot:" prompt.

	      If no DEFAULT or UI statement is	found,	or  the	 configuration
	      file  is	missing	 entirely,  SYSLINUX drops to the boot: prompt
	      with an error message (if NOESCAPE is set, it stops with a "boot
	      failed"  message; this is also the case for PXELINUX if the con‐
	      figuration file is not found.)

       NOTE: Until SYSLINUX 3.85, if no configuration file is present, or no
	      "default" entry  is  present  in	the  configuration  file,  the
	      default is "linux auto".

       Even earlier versions of SYSLINUX used to automatically
	      append  the  string  "auto" to whatever the user specified using
	      the DEFAULT command.  As of version  1.54,  this	is  no	longer
	      true,  as	 it caused problems when using a shell as a substitute
	      for "init."  You may want to include this option manually.

       append options ...
	      Add one or more options to the kernel command  line.  These  are
	      added both for automatic and manual boots. The options are added
	      at the very beginning of the kernel command line,	 usually  per‐
	      mitting explicitly entered kernel options to override them. This
	      is the equivalent of the lilo(8)
	       "append" option.

       label label
	 kernel image
	 append options ...
	      Indicates that if label is entered as the kernel to  boot,  sys‐
	      linux  should  instead  boot  image,  and the specified "append"
	      options should be used instead of	 the  ones  specified  in  the
	      global  section  of the file (before the first "label" command.)
	      The default for image is the same as label, and if  no  "append"
	      is  given	 the default is to use the global entry (if any).  Use
	      "append -" to use no options at all.  Up to 128 "label"  entries
	      are permitted.

		     The  "image" doesn't have to be a Linux kernel; it can be
		     a boot sector (see below.)

       implicit flag_val
	      If flag_val is 0, do not load a kernel image unless it has  been
	      explicitly named in a "label" statement.	The default is 1.

       timeout timeout
	      Indicates	 how  long to wait at the "boot:" prompt until booting
	      automatically, in units of 1/10 s. The timeout is	 cancelled  as
	      soon  as the user types anything on the keyboard, the assumption
	      being that the user  will	 complete  the	command	 line  already
	      begun.  A	 timeout  of zero will disable the timeout completely,
	      this is also the default. The maximum possible timeout value  is
	      35996; corresponding to just below one hour.

       serial port [ baudrate ]
	      Enables  a serial port to act as the console. "port" is a number
	      (0 = /dev/ttyS0 = COM1, etc.); if	 "baudrate"  is	 omitted,  the
	      baud rate defaults to 9600 bps.  The serial parameters are hard‐
	      coded to be 8 bits, no parity, 1 stop bit.

	      For this directive to be guaranteed to work properly, it	should
	      be the first directive in the configuration file.

       font filename
	      Load  a font in .psf format before displaying any output (except
	      the copyright line, which is output  as  ldlinux.sys  itself  is
	      loaded.)	syslinux  only	loads the font onto the video card; if
	      the .psf file contains a Unicode table it is ignored.  This only
	      works  on	 EGA  and VGA cards; hopefully it should do nothing on

       kbdmap keymap
	      Install a simple keyboard map. The  keyboard  remapper  used  is
	      very simplistic (it simply remaps the keycodes received from the
	      BIOS, which means that only the key combinations relevant in the
	      default  layout  -  usually  U.S.	  English - can be mapped) but
	      should at least help people with AZERTY keyboard layout and  the
	      locations of = and , (two special characters used heavily on the
	      Linux kernel command line.)

	      The included program from the lilo(8)
	       distribution can be used to create such keymaps.

       display filename
	      Displays the indicated file on the screen at boot	 time  (before
	      the boot: prompt, if displayed). Please see the section below on
	      DISPLAY files. If the file is missing,  this  option  is	simply

       prompt flag_val
	      If  flag_val  is 0, display the "boot:" prompt only if the Shift
	      or Alt key is pressed, or Caps Lock or Scroll lock is set	 (this
	      is  the  default).  If flag_val is 1, always display the "boot:"

       f1 filename
       f2 filename
       f9 filename
       f10 filename
       f11 filename
       f12 filename
	      Displays the indicated file on the screen when a function key is
	      pressed  at  the	"boot:"	 prompt. This can be used to implement
	      pre-boot online help (presumably for  the	 kernel	 command  line

	      When  using  the serial console, press <Ctrl-F><digit> to get to
	      the help screens, e.g. <Ctrl-F>2 to get to the f2	 screen.   For
	      f10-f12,	hit <Ctrl-F>A, <Ctrl-F>B, <Ctrl-F>C.  For compatiblity
	      with earlier versions, f10 can also be entered as <Ctrl-F>0.

   Display file format
       DISPLAY and function-key help files are text files  in  either  DOS  or
       UNIX  format (with or without <CR>). In addition, the following special
       codes are interpreted:

       <FF> = <Ctrl-L> = ASCII 12
	      Clear the screen, home the cursor.   Note	 that  the  screen  is
	      filled with the current display color.

       <SI><bg><fg>, <SI> = <Ctrl-O> = ASCII 15
	      Set  the	display	 colors	 to the specified background and fore‐
	      ground colors, where <bg> and <fg> are hex digits, corresponding
	      to the standard PC display attributes:

	      0 = black		 8 = dark grey
	      1 = dark blue	 9 = bright blue
	      2 = dark green	 a = bright green
	      3 = dark cyan	 b = bright cyan
	      4 = dark red	 c = bright red
	      5 = dark purple	 d = bright purple
	      6 = brown		 e = yellow
	      7 = light grey	 f = white

	      Picking  a  bright color (8-f) for the background results in the
	      corresponding dark color (0-7), with the foreground flashing.

	      colors are not visible over the serial console.

       <CAN>filename<newline>, <CAN> = <Ctrl-X> = ASCII 24
	      If a VGA display is present, enter graphics mode and display the
	      graphic  included	 in the specified file.	 The file format is an
	      ad hoc format called LSS16;  the	included  Perl	program	 "ppm‐
	      tolss16" can be used to produce these images.  This Perl program
	      also includes the file format specification.

	      The image is displayed in 640x480 16-color mode.	Once in graph‐
	      ics  mode,  the  display attributes (set by <SI> code sequences)
	      work slightly differently: the background color is ignored,  and
	      the  foreground  colors are the 16 colors specified in the image
	      file.  For that reason, ppmtolss16 allows you  to	 specify  that
	      certain colors should be assigned to specific color indicies.

	      Color  indicies  0  and  7, in particular, should be chosen with
	      care: 0 is the background color, and 7 is the color used for the
	      text printed by SYSLINUX itself.

       <EM>, <EM> = <Ctrl-U> = ASCII 25
	      If we are currently in graphics mode, return to text mode.

       <DLE>..<ETB>, <Ctrl-P>..<Ctrl-W> = ASCII 16-23
	      These codes can be used to select which modes to print a certain
	      part of the message file in.  Each of these  control  characters
	      select  a	 specific  set of modes (text screen, graphics screen,
	      serial port) for which the output is actually displayed:

	      Character			      Text    Graph   Serial
	      <DLE> = <Ctrl-P> = ASCII 16     No      No      No
	      <DC1> = <Ctrl-Q> = ASCII 17     Yes     No      No
	      <DC2> = <Ctrl-R> = ASCII 18     No      Yes     No
	      <DC3> = <Ctrl-S> = ASCII 19     Yes     Yes     No
	      <DC4> = <Ctrl-T> = ASCII 20     No      No      Yes
	      <NAK> = <Ctrl-U> = ASCII 21     Yes     No      Yes
	      <SYN> = <Ctrl-V> = ASCII 22     No      Yes     Yes
	      <ETB> = <Ctrl-W> = ASCII 23     Yes     Yes     Yes

	      For example:
	      <DC1>Text mode<DC2>Graphics mode<DC4>Serial port<ETB>
	       ... will actually print out which mode the console is in!

       <SUB> = <Ctrl-Z> = ASCII 26
	      End of file (DOS convention).

   Other operating systems
       This version of syslinux supports chain loading of other operating sys‐
       tems (such as MS-DOS and its derivatives, including Windows 95/98).

       Chain  loading requires the boot sector of the foreign operating system
       to be stored in a  file	in  the	 root  directory  of  the  filesystem.
       Because	neither	 Linux	kernels,  nor boot sector images have reliable
       magic numbers, syslinux will look at the file extension. The  following
       extensions are recognised:

       none or other	Linux kernel image
       BSS		Boot sector (DOS superblock will be patched in)
       BS		Boot sector

       For  filenames  given on the command line, syslinux will search for the
       file by adding extensions in the order listed above if the plain	 file‐
       name  is not found. Filenames in KERNEL statements must be fully quali‐

   Novice protection
       Syslinux will attempt to detect if the user is trying to boot on a  286
       or lower class machine, or a machine with less than 608K of low ("DOS")
       RAM (which means the Linux boot sequence cannot complete).   If	so,  a
       message	is  displayed and the boot sequence aborted.  Holding down the
       Ctrl key while booting disables this feature.

       The compile time and  date  of  a  specific  syslinux  version  can  be
       obtained	 by  the  DOS command "type ldlinux.sys". This is also used as
       the signature for the LDLINUX.SYS file, which must match the boot  sec‐

       Any file that syslinux uses can be marked hidden, system or readonly if
       so is convenient; syslinux ignores all file attributes.	 The  SYSLINUX
       installed automatically sets the readonly attribute on LDLINUX.SYS.

   Bootable CD-ROMs
       SYSLINUX can be used to create bootdisk images for El Torito-compatible
       bootable CD-ROMs. However, it appears that many BIOSes are  very	 buggy
       when  it	 comes	to  booting CD-ROMs. Some users have reported that the
       following steps are helpful in making a CD-ROM that is bootable on  the
       largest possible number of machines:

       ·      Use the -s (safe, slow and stupid) option to SYSLINUX

       ·      Put  the	boot  image  as close to the beginning of the ISO 9660
	      filesystem as possible.

       A CD-ROM is so much faster than a floppy that the -s  option  shouldn't
       matter from a speed perspective.

       Of course, you probably want to use ISOLINUX instead.  See the documen‐
       tation file isolinux.doc.

   Booting from a FAT partition on a hard disk
       SYSLINUX can boot from a	 FAT  filesystem  partition  on	 a  hard  disk
       (including  FAT32). The installation procedure is identical to the pro‐
       cedure for installing it on a floppy, and should work under either  DOS
       or  Linux. To boot from a partition, SYSLINUX needs to be launched from
       a Master Boot Record or another	boot  loader,  just  like  DOS	itself
       would. A sample master boot sector (mbr.bin) is included with SYSLINUX.

       I  would	 appreciate hearing of any problems you have with SYSLINUX.  I
       would also like to hear from you if you	have  successfully  used  SYS‐
       LINUX, especially if you are using it for a distribution.

       If  you are reporting problems, please include all possible information
       about your system and your BIOS; the  vast  majority  of	 all  problems
       reported	 turn  out  to	be  BIOS  or hardware bugs, and I need as much
       information as possible in order to diagnose the problems.

       There is a mailing list for discussion among  SYSLINUX  users  and  for
       announcements  of  new  and  test  versions. To join, send a message to with the line:

       subscribe syslinux

       in  the	body  of  the  message.	 The  submission   address   is	  sys‐

       lilo(8),, fdisk(8), mkfs(8), superformat(1).

       This  manual  page is a modified version of the original syslinux docu‐
       mentation by H. Peter Anvin <>. The conversion to  a  man‐
       page was made by Arthur Korn <>.

SYSLINUX			 19 July 2010			   SYSLINUX(1)

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