systemd-boot

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systemd-boot, previously called gummiboot, is a simple UEFI boot manager which executes configured EFI images. The default entry is selected by a configured pattern (glob) or an on-screen menu. It is included with systemd, which is installed on Arch system by default.

It is simple to configure but it can only start EFI executables such as the Linux kernel EFISTUB, UEFI Shell, GRUB, the Windows Boot Manager.

Installation

EFI boot

  1. Make sure you are booted in UEFI mode.
  2. Verify your EFI variables are accessible.
  3. Mount your EFI System Partition (ESP) properly. esp is used to denote the mountpoint in this article.
    Note: systemd-boot cannot load EFI binaries from other partitions. It is therefore recommended to mount your ESP to /boot. In case you want to separate /boot from the ESP see #Manually for more information.
  4. If the ESP is not mounted at /boot, then copy your kernel and initramfs onto that ESP.
    Note: For a way to automatically keep the kernel updated on the ESP, have a look at EFISTUB#Using systemd for some systemd units that can be adapted. If your EFI System Partition is using automount, you may need to add vfat to a file in /etc/modules-load.d/ to ensure the current running kernel has the vfat module loaded at boot, before any kernel update happens that could replace the module for the currently running version making the mounting of /boot/efi impossible until reboot.
  5. Type the following command to install systemd-boot:
    # bootctl --path=esp install
    It will copy the systemd-boot binary to your EFI System Partition (esp/EFI/systemd/systemd-bootx64.efi and esp/EFI/Boot/BOOTX64.EFI – both of which are identical – on x86-64 systems) and add systemd-boot itself as the default EFI application (default boot entry) loaded by the EFI Boot Manager.
  6. Finally you must configure the boot loader to function properly.

BIOS boot

Warning: This is not recommended.

You can successfully install systemd-boot if booted with in BIOS mode. However, this process requires you to tell firmware to launch systemd-boot's EFI file at boot, usually via two ways:

  • you have a working EFI Shell somewhere else.
  • your firmware interface provides a way of properly setting the EFI file that needs to be loaded at boot time.

If you can do it, the installation is easier: go into your EFI Shell or your firmware configuration interface and change your machine's default EFI file to esp/EFI/systemd/systemd-bootx64.efi ( or systemd-bootia32.efi depending if your system firmware is 32 bit).

Note: the firmware interface of Dell Latitude series provides everything you need to setup EFI boot but the EFI Shell won't be able to write to the computer's ROM.

Updating

Unlike the previous separate gummiboot package, which updated automatically on a new package release with a post_install script, updates of new systemd-boot versions must now be done manually by the user. However the procedure can be automated using pacman hooks.

Manually

systemd-boot (bootctl(1)) assumes that your EFI System Partition is mounted on /boot.

# bootctl update

If the ESP is not mounted on /boot, the --path= option can pass it. For example:

# bootctl --path=esp update
Note: This is also the command to use when migrating from gummiboot, before removing that package. If that package has already been removed, however, run bootctl --path=esp install.

Automatically

The AUR package systemd-boot-pacman-hookAUR provides a Pacman hook to automate the update process. Installing the package will add a hook which will be executed every time the systemd package is upgraded.

Alternatively, place the following pacman hook in the /etc/pacman.d/hooks/ directory:

/etc/pacman.d/hooks/systemd-boot.hook
[Trigger]
Type = Package
Operation = Upgrade
Target = systemd

[Action]
Description = Updating systemd-boot...
When = PostTransaction
Exec = /usr/bin/bootctl update

Configuration

Basic configuration

The basic configuration is stored in esp/loader/loader.conf file and it is composed by three options:

  • default – default entry to select (without the .conf suffix); can be a wildcard like arch-*.
  • timeout – menu timeout in seconds. If this is not set, the menu will only be shown on Space key (or most other keys actually work too) press during boot.
  • editor – whether to enable the kernel parameters editor or not. 1 (default) is enabled, 0 is disabled; since the user can add init=/bin/bash to bypass root password and gain root access, it is strongly recommended to set this option to 0.

Example:

esp/loader/loader.conf
default  arch
timeout  4
editor   0
Note: The first 2 options can be changed in the boot menu itself and changes will be stored as EFI variables.
Tip: A basic configuration file example is located at /usr/share/systemd/bootctl/loader.conf.

Adding boot entries

Note:
  • bootctl will automatically check for "Windows Boot Manager" (\EFI\Microsoft\Boot\Bootmgfw.efi), "EFI Shell" (\shellx64.efi) and "EFI Default Loader" (\EFI\Boot\bootx64.efi) at boot time, as well as specially prepared kernel files found in \EFI\Linux. When detected, corresponding entries with titles auto-windows, auto-efi-shell and auto-efi-default, respectively, will be automatically generated. These entries do not require manual loader configuration. However, it does not auto-detect other EFI applications (unlike rEFInd), so for booting the Linux kernel, manual configuration entries must be created.
  • If you dual-boot Windows, it is strongly recommended to disable its default Fast Start-Up option.
  • Remember to load the intel microcode with initrd if applicable.
  • You can find the PARTUUID for your root partition with the command blkid -s PARTUUID -o value /dev/sdxY, where x is the device letter and Y is the partition number. This is required only for your root partition, not esp.

bootctl searches for boot menu items in esp/loader/entries/*.conf – each file found must contain exactly one boot entry. The possible options are:

  • title – operating system name. Required.
  • version – kernel version, shown only when multiple entries with same title exist. Optional.
  • machine-id – machine identifier from /etc/machine-id, shown only when multiple entries with same title and version exist. Optional.
  • efi – EFI program to start, relative to your ESP (esp); e.g. /vmlinuz-linux. Either this or linux (see below) is required.
  • options – command line options to pass to the EFI program or kernel boot parameters. Optional, but you will need at least initrd=efipath and root=dev if booting Linux.

For Linux, you can specify linux path-to-vmlinuz and initrd path-to-initramfs; this will be automatically translated to efi path and options initrd=path – this syntax is only supported for convenience and has no differences in function.

Tango-edit-clear.pngThis article or section needs language, wiki syntax or style improvements.Tango-edit-clear.png

Reason: There shouldn't be so many examples for specifying mount options or kernel parameters. (Discuss in Talk:Systemd-boot#)

Standard root installations

Here is an example entry for a root partition without LVM or LUKS:

esp/loader/entries/arch.conf
title          Arch Linux
linux          /vmlinuz-linux
initrd         /initramfs-linux.img
options        root=PARTUUID=14420948-2cea-4de7-b042-40f67c618660 rw

Please note in the example above that PARTUUID/PARTLABEL identifies a GPT partition, and differs from UUID/LABEL, which identifies a filesystem. Using the PARTUUID/PARTLABEL is advantageous because it is invariant (i.e. unchanging) if you reformat the partition with another filesystem, or if the /dev/sd* mapping changed for some reason. It is also useful if you do not have a filesystem on the partition (or use LUKS, which does not support LABELs).

Tip: An example entry file is located at /usr/share/systemd/bootctl.

LVM root installations

Warning: systemd-boot cannot be used without a separate /boot filesystem outside of LVM.

Here is an example for a root partition using Logical Volume Management:

esp/loader/entries/arch-lvm.conf
title          Arch Linux (LVM)
linux          /vmlinuz-linux
initrd         /initramfs-linux.img
options        root=/dev/mapper/<VolumeGroup-LogicalVolume> rw

Replace <VolumeGroup-LogicalVolume> with the actual VG and LV names (e.g. root=/dev/mapper/volgroup00-lvolroot). Alternatively, it is also possible to use a UUID instead:

....
options  root=UUID=<UUID identifier> rw

Note that root=UUID= is used instead of root=PARTUUID=, which is used for Root partitions without LVM or LUKS.

Encrypted Root Installations

Here is an example configuration file for an encrypted root partition (DM-Crypt / LUKS) using the encrypt mkinitcpio hook:

esp/loader/entries/arch-encrypted.conf
title Arch Linux Encrypted
linux /vmlinuz-linux
initrd /initramfs-linux.img
options cryptdevice=UUID=<UUID>:<mapped-name> root=/dev/mapper/<mapped-name> quiet rw

UUID is used in this example; PARTUUID should be able to replace the UUID, if so desired. You may also replace the /dev path with a regular UUID. mapped-name is whatever you want it to be called. See Dm-crypt/System configuration#Boot loader.

If you are using LVM, your cryptdevice line will look like this:

esp/loader/entries/arch-encrypted-lvm.conf
title Arch Linux Encrypted LVM
linux /vmlinuz-linux
initrd /initramfs-linux.img
options cryptdevice=UUID=<UUID>:MyVolGroup root=/dev/mapper/MyVolGroup-MyVolRoot quiet rw

You can also add other EFI programs such as \EFI\arch\grub.efi.

btrfs subvolume root installations

If booting a btrfs subvolume as root, amend the options line with rootflags=subvol=<root subvolume>. In the example below, root has been mounted as a btrfs subvolume called 'ROOT' (e.g. mount -o subvol=ROOT /dev/sdxY /mnt):

esp/loader/entries/arch-btrfs-subvol.conf
title          Arch Linux
linux          /vmlinuz-linux
initrd         /initramfs-linux.img
options        root=PARTUUID=14420948-2cea-4de7-b042-40f67c618660 rw rootflags=subvol=ROOT

A failure to do so will otherwise result in the following error message: ERROR: Root device mounted successfully, but /sbin/init does not exist.

ZFS root installations

When booting from a ZFS dataset, add zfs=<root dataset> to the options line. Here the root dataset has been set to 'zroot/ROOT/default':

esp/loader/entries/arch-zfs.conf
title          Arch Linux ZFS
linux          /vmlinuz-linux
initrd         /initramfs-linux.img
options        zfs=zroot/ROOT/default rw

When booting off of a ZFS dataset ensure that it has had the bootfs property set with zpool set bootfs=<root dataset> <zpool>.

EFI Shells or other EFI apps

In case you installed EFI shells and other EFI application into the ESP, you can use the following snippets:

esp/loader/entries/uefi-shell-v1-x86_64.conf
title  UEFI Shell x86_64 v1
efi    /EFI/shellx64_v1.efi
esp/loader/entries/uefi-shell-v2-x86_64.conf
title  UEFI Shell x86_64 v2
efi    /EFI/shellx64_v2.efi

Tango-view-fullscreen.pngThis article or section needs expansion.Tango-view-fullscreen.png

Reason: Add example on how to boot into EFI firmware setup. (Discuss in Talk:Systemd-boot#)

Preparing kernels for EFI\Linux

Tango-edit-clear.pngThis article or section needs language, wiki syntax or style improvements.Tango-edit-clear.png

Reason: Does not belong here, not specific to systemd-boot. (Discuss in Talk:Systemd-boot#)

EFI\Linux is searched for specially prepared kernel files, which bundle the kernel, the initrd, the kernel command line and /etc/os-release into one file. This file can be easily signed for secure boot.

Create the bundle file like this:

Kernel packaging command:
objcopy \
    --add-section .osrel="/usr/lib/os-release" --change-section-vma .osrel=0x20000 \
    --add-section .cmdline="kernel command line" --change-section-vma .cmdline=0x30000 \
    --add-section .linux="vmlinuz-file" --change-section-vma .linux=0x40000 \
    --add-section .initrd="initrd-file" --change-section-vma .initrd=0x3000000 \
    "/usr/lib/systemd/boot/efi/linuxx64.efi.stub" "linux.efi"

Optionally sign linux.efi now (e.g. using sbsigntools from AUR).

Copying linux.efi into esp\EFI\Linux.

Support hibernation

See Suspend and hibernate.

Kernel parameters editor with password protection

Alternatively you can install systemd-boot-passwordAUR which supports password basic configuration option. Use sbpctl generate to generate a value for this option.

Install systemd-boot-password with the following command:

# sbpctl install esp

With enabled editor you will be prompted for your password before you can edit kernel parameters.

Keys inside the boot menu

The following keys are used inside the menu:

  • Up/Down - select entry
  • Enter - boot the selected entry
  • d - select the default entry to boot (stored in a non-volatile EFI variable)
  • -/T - decrease the timeout (stored in a non-volatile EFI variable)
  • +/t - increase the timeout (stored in a non-volatile EFI variable)
  • e - edit the kernel command line. It has no effect if the editor config option is set to 0.
  • v - show the gummiboot and UEFI version
  • Q - quit
  • P - print the current configuration
  • h/? - help

These hotkeys will, when pressed inside the menu or during bootup, directly boot a specific entry:

  • l - Linux
  • w - Windows
  • a - OS X
  • s - EFI Shell
  • 1-9 - number of entry

Troubleshooting

Manual entry using efibootmgr

If bootctl install command failed, you can create a EFI boot entry manually using efibootmgr:

# efibootmgr -c -d /dev/sdX -p Y -l /EFI/systemd/systemd-bootx64.efi -L "Linux Boot Manager"

where /dev/sdXY is the EFI System Partition.

Menu does not appear after Windows upgrade

See UEFI#Windows changes boot order.

See also