LILO (boot loader)

LILO redirects here, for uses other than the boot loader, see Lilo

LILO (LInux LOader) is a generic boot loader for Linux.


LILO was originally developed by Werner Almesberger, while its current developer is John Coffman.

LILO does not depend on a specific file system, and can boot an operating system (e.g., Linux kernel images) from floppy disks and hard disks. One of up to sixteen different images can be selected at boot time. Various parameters, such as the root device, can be set independently for each kernel. LILO can be placed either in the master boot record (MBR) or the boot sector of a partition. In the latter case something else must be placed in the MBR to load LILO.

At system start, only the BIOS drivers are available for LILO to access hard disks. For this reason, with very old BIOS, the accessible area is limited to cylinders 0 to 1023 of the first two hard disks. For later BIOS, LILO can use 32-bit "logical block addressing" (LBA) to access practically the entire storage of all the harddisks that the BIOS allows access to.

LILO was the default bootloader for most Linux distributions in the years after the popularity of loadlin. Today, most distributions use GRUB as the default bootloader.


The lilo.conf file is typically located at /etc/lilo.conf. Within lilo.conf there are typically two section types. The first section, which defines the global options, contains parameters which specify boot location attributes. The second section(s) contain parameters associated with the operating system images to be loaded. The section type can be repeated for up to 16 different boot selections.

Definition information can be found in the LILO Manpage.

Master boot record

LILO can write a Master Boot Record on a device:

/sbin/lilo -M


When LILO loads itself it displays the word “LILO”. Each letter is printed before or after some specific action. If LILO fails at some point, the letters printed so far can be used to identify the problem. (nothing):No part of LILO has been loaded. LILO either isn't installed or the partition on which its boot sector is located isn't active. You have probably not booted from the correct device or the media you've booted from is faulty. L:The first stage boot loader has been loaded and started, but it can't load the second stage boot loader. The two-digit error codes indicate the type of problem. This condition usually indicates a media failure or bad disk parameters in the BIOS. LI:The first stage boot loader was able to load the second stage boot loader, but has failed to execute it. This can be caused by bad disk parameters in the BIOS. LIL:The second stage boot loader has been started, but it can't load the descriptor table from the map file. This is typically caused by a media failure or by bad disk parameters in the BIOS. LIL?:The second stage boot loader has been loaded at an incorrect address. This is typically caused by bad disk parameters in the BIOS. LIL-:The descriptor table is corrupt. This can be caused by bad disk parameters in the BIOS. LILO:All parts of LILO have been successfully loaded.

Error Codes

eg: L 01 01 01, L 07 07 07 etc..

Error code Name Description
0x00 Internal Error This code is generated by the sector read routine of the LILO boot loader whenever an internal inconsistency is detected. This might be caused by corrupt files. Try re-building the map file. Another possible cause for this error are attempts to access cylinders beyond 1024 while using the LINEAR option.
0x01 Illegal Command This shouldn't happen, but if it does, it may indicate an attempt to access a disk which is not supported by the BIOS. Definitely check to see if the disk is seen by the BIOS first (and that the BIOS detail is complete).
0x02 Address mark not found This usually indicates a media problem. Try again several times.
0x03 Write-protected disk This should only occur on write operations.
0x04 Sector not found This typically indicates a geometry mismatch. If you're booting a raw-written disk image, verify whether it was created for disks with the same geometry as the one you're using. If you're booting from a SCSI disk or a large IDE disk, you should check, whether LILO has obtained correct geometry data from the kernel or whether the geometry definition corresponds to the real disk geometry. Removing COMPACT may help too. So may adding LBA32 or LINEAR.
0x06 Change line active This should be a transient error. Try booting a second time.
0x07 Invalid initialization The BIOS failed to properly initialize the disk controller. You should control the BIOS setup parameters. A warm boot might help too. (Boot a rescue disc and rerun LILO.)
0x08 DMA overrun This shouldn't happen. Try booting again.
0x09 DMA attempt across 64k boundary This shouldn't happen, but may indicate a disk geometry mis-match. Try omitting the COMPACT option. You may need to specify the disk geometry yourself.
0x0C Invalid media This shouldn't happen and might be caused by a media error. Try booting again.
0x10 CRC error A media error has been detected. Try booting several times, running the map installer a second time (to put the map file at some other physical location or to write "good data" over the bad spot), mapping out the bad sectors/tracks and, if all else fails, replacing the media.
0x11 ECC correction successful A read error occurred, but was corrected. LILO does not recognize this condition and aborts the load process anyway. A second load attempt should succeed.
0x20 Controller error This shouldn't happen, then again, none of these errors should happen eh?
0x40 Seek failure This might be a media problem. Try booting again.
0x80 Disk timeout The disk or the drive isn't ready. Either the media is bad or the disk isn't spinning. If you're booting from a floppy, you might not have closed the drive door. Otherwise, trying to boot again might help.
0x99 Invalid Second Stage Mismatch between drive and BIOS geometry, or a bad map file. Some evidence that LINEAR needs to be set on the disk (see LiloNotes)
0x9A Can't Find Second Stage Check to see if you have the correct device for boot, eg. boot=/dev/hda1 when it should be in the MBR i.e. boot=/dev/hda.
0xBB BIOS error This shouldn't happen. Try booting again. If the problem persists, removing the COMPACT option or adding/removing LINEAR or LBA32 might help.

See also

External links

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