installboot - make a device bootable
installboot -i(mage) image [label:]kernel mm fs ... init
installboot -(e)x(tract) image
installboot -d(evice) device bootblock boot [[label:]image ...]
installboot -b(oot) device bootblock boot [label:]image ...
installboot -m(aster) device masterboot [keys [logical]]
Installboot may be used to make a device bootable by constructing a
kernel image and installing bootstrap code into the boot block of a Minix
file system. To understand how this can be done one first has to know
what happens when a PC is booted.
When the power is turned on the typical PC will try to read the first
sector from the first floppy disk or from the first hard disk into memory
and execute it. The code obtained from the hard disk (from the so-called
master boot sector) will immediately replace itself by the code found in
the first sector of the active partition. Thus the PC is now executing
the bootstrap code found in the first sector of /dev/fd0, /dev/c0d0p0,
/dev/c0d0p1, /dev/c0d0p2, or /dev/c0d0p3 (assuming the boot disk is
attached to controller 0.) The bootstrap will locate the operating
system on the device it itself was loaded from, load it, and execute it.
To make a Minix file system /dev/fd0 mounted on /mnt bootable, enter the
cp /usr/mdec/boot /mnt/boot
installboot -i /mnt/minix kernel mm fs init
installboot -d /dev/fd0 /usr/mdec/bootblock boot
The "boot" program in the example is named the "Boot Monitor". It is
loaded by the bootblock code placed in the boot sector of /dev/fd0 and it
will take care of loading the kernel image "minix" from the root
directory of the file system. See monitor(8) for a description of the
Boot Monitor. Note that boot is a name in the file system on /dev/fd0 in
this example, the same file as /mnt/boot. Making /mnt/minix is normally
not necessary, there is usually a kernel image in the tools directory.
-i(mage) image [label:]kernel mm fs ... init
The -image option (or the -i shorthand) combines the executable
files needed to run Minix in one file. Only the names and a few
zero bytes are inserted into the image. The name is for
identification and the zeros are used to pad separate pieces to
sector boundaries for fast loading.
An executable may be prefixed by a label. The Monitor may be
instructed to load processes by label. So more than one kernel
process may be included in the image, each with a different
winchester driver for instance. So if you have compiled two
different kernels with an AT or XT driver then
installboot -i image AT:at_kernel XT:xt_kernel mm fs init
will make an image with two different labeled kernels and one
unlabeled set of the other binaries.
Extract the binaries from image under the names stored in the image.
(The name includes the optional label.)
-d(evice) device bootblock boot [[label:]image ...]
Installs bootblock in the boot sector of device together with the
disk addresses to boot. These disk addresses are needed to load
boot from the file system at boot time. The argument boot is first
searched in the file system on device. If it is not found then it
is read as a normal file and added at the end of the file system.
The file system should be smaller than the device it is on to allow
this. Any extra images are also added to the end as described under
-boot. (Make sure you understand all this.)
The device need not be mounted when installboot is run, nor does it
matter if it is.
Installboot needs to be run again if boot is rewritten, because it
will then occupy a new place on the disk.
Old boot parameters are kept if there are no images added.
-b(oot) device bootblock boot [label:]image ...
This option fills a blank floppy in device with boot code and kernel
images. This "boot disk" does not have a root file system, only the
Boot Monitor and Minix kernels. The boot parameters sector is
filled with code that enables menu options for selecting an image.
After loading an image, the Monitor will ask you to insert a root
file system diskette before starting Minix.
The labels used on the images should match those on the executables
used inside the image. You can put a comma separated list of labels
on an image for each label used within the image. For the image
created earlier one would create a boot floppy like this:
installboot -b /dev/fd0 bootblock boot AT,XT:image
If a label-list is omitted on an image, then that image will be
selected by default. (Like in the normal one image, no labels
Note that -device and -boot together allow you to make a boot floppy
with or without a root file system. With the boot code in the file
system, attached to the end of it, or after the boot block. And
with one or more kernel images in the file system or at the end of
the device. Somewhat confusing.
-m(aster) device masterboot [keys [logical]]
This option installs the masterboot program into the boot sector of
the given device. If another device is given instead of masterboot
then its bootstrap code is copied to device. The master bootstrap
on a hard disk boots the active partition on that disk at boot time.
The MS-DOS fdisk command normally puts a master bootstrap on the
hard disk. Minix has two bootstraps that can be used as a master
bootstrap, masterboot and jumpboot.
Masterboot is a fairly normal master bootstrap that works as
If installed on a hard disk then it will load the bootstrap of
the active partition and run it. Masterboot can be put in the
first sector of a hard disk to boot the active partition, or in
the first sector of a Minix partition to boot the active
If installed on a Minix floppy then it will try to boot the
next floppy or the first hard disk. Ideal for floppies with
just data on it, they will no longer obstruct the boot process
if left in the drive. Also a very useful trick to boot from
floppy drive 1.
The other bootstrap named jumpboot is used for the weird cases:
If your default operating system is installed on another disk
then jumpboot can be installed on the first disk and instructed
to boot the disk, partition or subpartition that must be booted
If one of your operating systems insists on being active when
booted then use jumpboot to ignore the active flag and boot
your preferred O.S. instead. The Boot Monitor's "boot *" trick
to activate the partition to boot is useful here.
To boot a logical partition within an extended partition. Note
that you can put jumpboot in the first sector of the extended
partition in this case, with the extended partition marked
If you hold down the ALT key while jumpboot is being executed,
then you can type the disk, partition or subpartition you want
to boot as one to three digits followed by typing ENTER.
Jumpboot can be programmed to boot a certain partition with the keys
argument and optionally also the logical argument. Keys are one to
three digits naming the disk, partition or subpartition. If the
device to boot is /dev/c0d1p3s0, then keys is 130. These are the
same three digits you can type manually if you hold down ALT at
boot. To program jumpboot to boot a logical partition within an
extended partition, let keys be just a disk number, and specify
logical as the name of the logical partition on that disk that is to
be booted. (Actually logical can be any device name, but this form
should be avoided because it offers less checking to see if the
device is still there after a disk rearrangement.)
A backup copy of the current master bootstrap (including the
partition table) can be made with:
dd if=device of=backup-file count=1
A simple 'cp backup-file device' will put it back. You can also use
fdisk /mbr under MS-DOS 5.0 (or newer) to restore the master
/usr/mdec/bootblock Minix bootstrap for the Minix root device. To
be placed in the boot sector.
/usr/mdec/boot Minix Boot Monitor. Can usually be found in the
root directory of a bootable device.
/usr/mdec/masterboot Master bootstrap. Can be placed in the first
sector of a disk to select the active partition.
In a Minix primary partition it selects the
/usr/mdec/jumpboot Special "boot this" bootstrap.
File is not an executable
What you think is boot code or part of the kernel isn't.
Program will crash, text/data segment larger then 64K
One of the 16-bit programs added to an image has a text or data
segment that is larger than 64K. You probably enabled too many
drivers, or configured too many buffers.
File can't be attached to device
You are trying to put the boot monitor or an image after a file
system, but there is no or not enough space. Did you specify the
full path of the monitor instead of just "boot"?
Device is not a Minix file system
You are using -device on a device that doesn't contain a file
system. Maybe you specified the wrong device, maybe you should make
a file system, or maybe you should use -boot.
Device contains a file system
You are about to destroy a file system with -boot. Maybe you meant
to use -device? You have 10 seconds to make up your mind...
File is too big
Several types of messages like these will tell you that file can't
be installed in a boot sector, or that there is no room to add some
parameters, etc. Is file really a bootstrap?
A read error trying to get the next bit of boot code. You may even
get the BIOS error code in hex. Either the device has a bad block,
or jumpboot is told to read a nonexistent disk.
No active partition
None of the partitions in a partition table is marked active.
Partition does not exist (jumpboot), or it's bootstrap isn't
The Minix bootstraps can boot beyond the 8G disk size limit if the BIOS
supports the IBM/MS INT 13 Extensions. Alas only Minix-vmd can make use
of this, standard Minix has a 4G disk size limit.
It has four more options than the SunOS installboot program it is modeled
The bootblock code has been crunched to such ugliness that you can use it
to scare little kids out of your garden.
Kees J. Bot (email@example.com)