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what's the processing sequence for initramfs during boot?

  i've asked about this on the kernel newbies list, but i want to ask
it here in a slightly different, fedora-centric way.

  the short form:  what is the precise sequence of kernel boot
regarding the initramfs (both the internal and external

  the long form:  i'm reading the docs and trying to understand the
intricacies of the boot sequence regarding how the kernel deals with
the initramfs.  first, AIUI, every built kernel has an *internal*
compressed cpio initramfs image although, by default, it's "empty."

  now, i opened up one of the internal cpio initramfs images that's
generated when i do my own kernel build, and it contained;

drwxr-xr-x   2 root     root            0 Sep  7 16:14 /dev
crw-------   1 root     root       5,   1 Sep  7 16:14 /dev/console
drwx------   2 root     root            0 Sep  7 16:14 /root

so it's not truly "empty" but it's pretty close.  anyway, onward.

  based on my reading, it appears that, when the (2.6) kernel starts
to run, it allocates a tmpfs-based "rootfs" (always, without
exception) and copies into it the contents of the internal initramfs
image (again, without excepton).  is this correct so far?

  once that's done, what happens if there's an executable "init" file
in the rootfs?  does the kernel simply pass control to that
executable?  if that's true, that means that there would be no way to
process regular kernel command-line parameters so, despite what the
documentation seems to suggest, i can't believe that's what's

  on the other hand, let's say there's no "init" in that internal
initramfs.  then, AIUI, the kernel will check whether it's been passed
a second initramfs image (that would be the one identified in
/etc/grub.conf via the "initrd" directive).  and in the case of
fedora, that's the one created by running "mkinitrd" during the kernel
installation process, which *does* have an "init" script which fires
up "nash" and takes over, etc, etc.

  but, once again, even if that happens, at what point in all of that
would a kernel boot-time parameter of, say, "root=" be processed?
surely *something* has to deal with that but in all of the above,
where is that being done?  and do i have the order even remotely

  yes, i'm RTFS.  but a quick clarification never hurts.  thanks.


p.s.  once i figure it out, i'll be happy to summarize.

Robert P. J. Day
Linux Consulting, Training and Annoying Kernel Pedantry
Waterloo, Ontario, CANADA


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