Mkinitcpio (简体中文)

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mkinitcpio is the next generation of initramfs creation.


mkinitcpio是一个Bash脚本,用于创建一个初始化芯存盘(ramdisk)环境。来自mkinitcpio man page的介绍:

初始化芯存盘实际上是一个非常小的运行环境(早期的用户空间),用于加载一些核心模块,并在处理完一些初始化控制之前创建一些必须的东西,比如加密的根文件系统、在软阵列序列上根文件系统。 mkinicpio 可以方便地使用自定义的钩子扩展,可在运行时自动检测,另还有其他一些其他功能。

传统做法中,核心在启动boot process 中,先于加载根文件系统和通过初始化控制之前,负责所有的硬件检测和初始化任务init。但随着技术的演进,这样的做法将趋于复杂化。

今天,根系统可运行于广泛的硬件上,比如SCSI SATA 闪盘,而这些硬件乃是受控于形形色色的厂家所提供的五花八门的驱动之下。另外,根系统可以加密、压缩,可存放在软阵列序列中,或者一个逻辑卷组上。因此,为了简单的处理这种复杂性,可以把管理权转入一个用户空间:初始化芯存盘

可参考: /dev/brain0 » Blog Archive » Early Userspace in Arch Linux.


  • The use of busybox to provide a small and lightweight base for early userspace (prior to version 0.6, klibc was used instead).
  • 支持在运行态中使用 udev 用于硬件检测,从而减少加载无用模块。
  • Being an extendable hook-based init script, custom hooks can easily be included in pacman packages.
  • Support for lvm2, dm-crypt for both legacy and LUKS volumes, mdadm, and swsusp and suspend2 for resuming and booting from USB mass storage devices.
  • 不需重构系统镜像,即可使用使用核心命令去配置众多功能
  • Support for the inclusion of the image in a kernel, thus making a self-contained kernel image possible.

mkinitcpio has been developed by phrakture, tpowa, and brain0 with some help from the community. More recently, development has been taken over by falconindy.


The Template:Package Official package is available in the official repositories and is installed by default as a member of the base group.

Users may wish to install the latest development version of mkinitcpio from Git:

$ git clone git://
Note: It is highly recommended that you follow the arch-projects mailing list if you use mkinitcpio from git!


By default, the mkinitcpio script generates two images after kernel installation or upgrades: /boot/initramfs-linux.img and /boot/initramfs-linux-fallback.img. The fallback image utilizes the same configuration file as the default image, except the autodetect hook is skipped during creation, thus including a full range of modules. The autodetect hook detects required modules and tailors the image for specific hardware, shrinking the initramfs.

Users may create any number of initramfs images with a variety of different configurations. The desired image must be specified for the bootloader, often in its configuration file (/boot/grub/menu.lst for GRUB users). After changes are made to the configuration file, the image must be regenerated. For the stock Arch Linux kernel, Template:Package Official, this is accomplished with the command:

# mkinitcpio -p linux

The -p switch specifies a preset to utilize; most kernel packages provide a related mkinitcpio preset file, found in /etc/mkinitcpio.d (e.g. /etc/mkinitcpio.d/linux.preset for linux). A preset is a predefined definition of how to create an initramfs image instead of specifying the configuration file and output file every time.

For version 3.x kernels, please use the linux preset:

# mkinitcpio -p linux
Warning: preset files are used to automatically regenerate the initramfs after a kernel update; be careful when editing them.

Users can manually create an image using an alternate configuration file:

# mkinitcpio -c /etc/mkinitcpio-custom.conf -g /boot/linux-custom.img

This will generate the initramfs image for the currently running kernel and save it at /boot/linux-custom.img.

If creating an image for a kernel other than the one currently running, add the kernel version to the command line:

# mkinitcpio -g /boot/linux.img -k 3.0.0-ARCH


The primary configuration file for mkinitcpio is /etc/mkinitcpio.conf. Additionally, preset definitions are provided by kernel packages in the /etc/mkinitcpio.d directory (e.g. /etc/mkinitcpio.d/linux.preset).

Warning: lvm2, mdadm, encrypt 默认是启用的。 如有需要,可详读这节。
Note: Users with multiple hardware disk controllers that use the same node names but different kernel modules (e.g. two SCSI/SATA or two IDE controllers) should ensure the correct order of modules is specified in /etc/mkinitcpio.conf. Otherwise, the root device location may change between boots, resulting in kernel panics. A more elegant alternative is to use persistent block device naming to ensure that the right devices are mounted.

Users can modify five variables within the configuration file:

Kernel modules to be loaded before any boot hooks are run.
Additional binaries to be included in the initramfs image.
Additional files to be included in the initramfs image.
Hooks are scripts that execute in the initial ramdisk.
Used to compress the initramfs image.
Command line options to pass to the COMPRESSION program.


The MODULES array is used to specify modules to load before anything else is done. To accelerate the boot process, users may opt to disable the udev hook and list required modules here instead:

MODULES="piix ide_disk reiserfs"


HOOKS="base autodetect ide filesystems"
Note: If using reiser4, it must be added to the modules list. Additionally, if you'll be needing any filesystem during the boot process that isn't live when you run mkinitcpio---for example, if your LUKS encryption key file is on an ext2 filesystem but no ext2 filesystems are mounted when you run mkinitcpio---that filesystem module must also be added to the MODULES list. See here for more details.

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

Reason: please use the first argument of the template to provide a brief explanation. (Discuss in Talk:Mkinitcpio (简体中文)#)

Template:Box YELLOW

Known modules that are not autoloaded during boot process (status stock kernel 2.6.18): scsi_transport_sas, ultrastor, qlogicfas, eata, BusLogic, pas16, wd7000, sym53c416, g_NCR5380_mmio, fdomain, u14-34f, dtc, initio, in2000, imm, t128, aha1542, aha152x, atp870u, g_NCR5380, NCR53c406a, qlogicfas408, megaraid_mm, advansys.

If one of the above modules are required for the root device, consider explicitly adding it to /etc/mkinitcpio.conf to avoid kernel panics.


These options allow users to add files to the image. Both BINARIES and FILES are added before hooks are run, and may be used to override files used or provided by a hook. BINARIES are auto-located within a standard PATH and dependency-parsed, meaning any required libraries will also be added. FILES are added as-is. For example:

BINARIES="fsck fsck.ext4"


A hook is a script that executes in the initial ramdisk. Hooks are found within the /lib/initcpio/install directory; for a list of available hooks:

$ ls -1 /lib/initcpio/install

Use mkinitcpio's -H option to output help for a specific hook. For example, to display information about the base hook:

$ mkinitcpio -H base

Hooks are listed in order of execution, and are used to add files or modules to the image. Thus, hooks can affect installation – when mkinitcpio is run to generate the image – and/or runtime – via an included script that is run during boot. Scripts can be found within the /lib/initcpio/hooks directory.

The default configuration will work for most users with a standard setup:

HOOKS="base udev autodetect pata scsi sata filesystems"

If using the image on more than one machine, remove the autodetect hook, which tailors the image to the build machine:

HOOKS="base udev pata scsi sata filesystems"

For support for encrypted volumes on LVM2 volume groups:

HOOKS="base udev autodetect pata scsi sata lvm2 encrypt filesystems"

A table of common hooks and their function follows. Note that this table is not complete, as packages can provide custom hooks.

Common hooks
Hook Installation Runtime
base Sets up all initial directories and installs base utilities and libraries. Always add this hook unless you know what you are doing. --
udev Adds udevd, udevadm, and a small subset of udev rules to your image. Starts the udev daemon and processes uevents from the kernel; creating device nodes. As it simplifies the boot process by not requiring the user to explicitly specify necessary modules, using the udev hook is recommended.
autodetect Shrinks your initramfs to a smaller size by creating a whitelist of modules from a scan of sysfs. Be sure to verify included modules are correct and none are missing. This hook must be run before other subsystem hooks in order to take advantage of auto-detection. Any hooks placed before 'autodetect' will be installed in full. --
pata Adds the new libata/PATA IDE modules to the image. Use this if your root device is on a IDE disk. Also use the autodetect hook if you want to minimize your image size --
sata Adds serial ATA modules to the image. Use this if your root device is on a SATA disk. Also use the autodetect hook if you want to minimize your image size. --
scsi Adds SCSI modules to the image. Use this if your root device is on a SCSI disk. Also use the autodetect hook if you want to minimize your image size. --
usb Adds USB modules to the image. Use this if your root device is on a USB mass storage device or if your USB mass storage device needs to be accessed otherwise (checked, mounted, etc.) at boot time. --
usbinput Adds USB HID modules to the image. Use this if you have an USB keyboard and need it in early userspace (either for entering encryption passphrases or for use in an interactive shell). --
fw Adds FireWire modules to the image. Use this if your root device is on a FW mass storage device. --
net Adds the necessary modules for a network device. For PCMCIA net devices please add the pcmcia hook too. Provides handling for an NFS based root filesystem.
pcmcia Adds the necessary modules for PCMCIA devices. You need to have Template:Package Official installed to use this. --
dsdt Loads a custom ACPI DSDT file during boot. Place your custom DSDT file for inclusion at /lib/initcpio/custom.dsdt The custom DSDT file is automatically used by the kernel if it is present in initramfs.
filesystems This includes necessary filesystem modules into your image. This hook is required unless you specify your filesystem modules in MODULES. --
lvm2 Adds the device mapper kernel module and the lvm tool to the image. You need to have the Template:Package Official package installed to use this. Enables all LVM2 volume groups. This is necessary if you have your root filesystem on LVM.
mdadm Provides support for assembling the arrays from /etc/mdadm.conf, or autodetection during boot. Locates and assembles software RAID block devices using mdassemble.
mdadm_udev Provides support for assembling the arrays via udev. Locates and assembles software RAID block devices using udev and mdadm incremental assembly.
encrypt Adds the dm-crypt kernel module and the cryptsetup tool to the image. You need to have the Template:Package Official package installed to use this. Detects and unlocks an encrypted root partition. See #Runtime customization for further configuration.
resume -- This tries to resume from the "suspend to disk" state. Works with both swsusp and suspend2. See #Runtime customization for further configuration.
keymap Adds keymap and consolefonts from rc.conf. Loads the specified keymap and consolefont from rc.conf during early userspace.


由于计算机设备越来越多,因此,启动所需包含的模块越来越多,因此,有时有必要对初始化芯存系统进行压缩。系统支持下列压缩格式 - gzip, bzip2, lzma, xz (also known as lzma2), 和 lzo. 大部分情况下,gzip或者lzop提供的压缩镜像大小和解压速度之间平衡得较好。

COMPRESSION="bzip2"     # kernel 2.6.30后可用
COMPRESSION="lzma"      # kernel 2.6.30后可用
COMPRESSION="lzop"      # kernel 2.6.34后可用
COMPRESSION="xz"        # kernel 2.6.38后可用

Specifying no COMPRESSION will result in a gzip compressed initramfs file. To create an uncompressed image, specify COMPRESSION=cat in the config or use -z cat on the command line.


These are additional flags passed to the program specified by COMPRESSION, such as:


In general these should never be needed as mkinitcpio will make sure that any supported compression method has the necessary flags to produce a working image.

Runtime customization

Runtime configuration options can be passed to init and certain hooks via the kernel command line. Kernel command line parameters are often supplied by the bootloader. For example, a typical Arch Linux GRUB entry:


In this case, root=/dev/sda3 and ro are kernel command line parameters. The options discussed below can be appended to the kernel command line to alter default behavior. See Arch Boot Process for more information.


Note: The following options alter the default behavior of init in the initramfs environment. See /lib/initcpio/init for details.
This is the most important parameter specified on the kernel command line, as it determines what device will be mounted as your proper root device. mkinitcpio is flexible enough to allow a wide variety of formats, for example:
root=/dev/sda1                                                # /dev node
root=LABEL=CorsairF80                                         # label
root=UUID=ea1c4959-406c-45d0-a144-912f4e86b207                # UUID
root=/dev/disk/by-path/pci-0000:00:1f.2-scsi-0:0:0:0-part1    # udev symlink (requires the udev hook)
root=801                                                      # hex-encoded major/minor number
If break or break=premount is specified, init pauses the boot process (after loading hooks, but before mounting the root filesystem) and launches an interactive shell which can be used for troubleshooting purposes. This shell can be launched after the root has been mounted by specifying break=postmount. Normal boot continues after exiting from the shell.
Disable hooks at runtime by adding disablehooks=hook1{,hook2,...}. For example:
Alter the order in which modules are loaded by specifying modules to load early via earlymodules=mod1{,mod2,...}. (This may be used, for example, to ensure the correct ordering of multiple network interfaces.)
Pause for ten seconds before mounting the root file system by appending rootdelay. (This may be used, for example, if booting from a USB hard drive that takes longer to initialize.)

Using RAID

First, add the mdadm hook to the HOOKS array and any required RAID modules to the MODULES array in /etc/mkinitcpio.conf.

Kernel Parameters: Using the mdadm hook, you no longer need to configure your RAID array in the GRUB parameters. The mdadm hook will either use your /etc/mdadm.conf file or automatically detect the array(s) during the init phase of boot.

Assembly via udev is also possible using the mdadm_udev hook. Upstream prefers this method of assembly. /etc/mdadm.conf will still be read for purposes of naming the assembled devices if it exists.

Using net

Required Packages:

net requires the Template:Package Official package from the official repositories.

Kernel Parameters:


An interface spec can be either short form, which is just the name of an interface (eth0 or whatever), or long form. The long form consists of up to seven elements, separated by colons:

 nfsaddrs= is an alias to ip= and can be used too.

Parameter explanation:

 <client-ip>   IP address of the client. If empty, the address will
               either be determined by RARP/BOOTP/DHCP. What protocol
               is used depends on the <autoconf> parameter. If this
               parameter is not empty, autoconf will be used.
 <server-ip>   IP address of the NFS server. If RARP is used to
               determine the client address and this parameter is NOT
               empty only replies from the specified server are
               accepted. To use different RARP and NFS server,
               specify your RARP server here (or leave it blank), and
               specify your NFS server in the `nfsroot' parameter
               (see above). If this entry is blank the address of the
               server is used which answered the RARP/BOOTP/DHCP
 <gw-ip>       IP address of a gateway if the server is on a different
               subnet. If this entry is empty no gateway is used and the
               server is assumed to be on the local network, unless a
               value has been received by BOOTP/DHCP.
 <netmask>     Netmask for local network interface. If this is empty,
               the netmask is derived from the client IP address assuming
               classful addressing, unless overridden in BOOTP/DHCP reply.
 <hostname>    Name of the client. If empty, the client IP address is
               used in ASCII notation, or the value received by
 <device>      Name of network device to use. If this is empty, all
               devices are used for RARP/BOOTP/DHCP requests, and the
               first one we receive a reply on is configured. If you
               have only one device, you can safely leave this blank.
 <autoconf>	Method to use for autoconfiguration. If this is either
               'rarp', 'bootp', or 'dhcp' the specified protocol is
               used.  If the value is 'both', 'all' or empty, all
               protocols are used.  'off', 'static' or 'none' means
               no autoconfiguration.


 ip=  --> Enable the loopback interface.
 ip= --> Enable static eth2 interface.
 ip=:::::eth0:dhcp --> Enable dhcp protocol for eth0 configuration.


If the nfsroot parameter is NOT given on the command line, the default /tftpboot/%s will be used.


Parameter explanation:

 <server-ip>   Specifies the IP address of the NFS server. If this field
               is not given, the default address as determined by the
               `ip' variable (see below) is used. One use of this
               parameter is for example to allow using different servers
               for RARP and NFS. Usually you can leave this blank.
 <root-dir>    Name of the directory on the server to mount as root. If
               there is a "%s" token in the string, the token will be
               replaced by the ASCII-representation of the client's IP
 <nfs-options> Standard NFS options. All options are separated by commas.
               If the options field is not given, the following defaults
               will be used:
                       port            = as given by server portmap daemon
                       rsize           = 1024
                       wsize           = 1024
                       timeo           = 7
                       retrans         = 3
                       acregmin        = 3
                       acregmax        = 60
                       acdirmin        = 30
                       acdirmax        = 60
                       flags           = hard, nointr, noposix, cto, ac


If you do not use the nfsroot parameter, you need to set root=/dev/nfs to boot from an NFS root by autoconfiguration.

Using lvm

If your root device is on lvm, you have to add the lvm2 hook. You have to pass your root device on the kernel command line in the format

root=/dev/mapper/<volume group name>-<logical volume name>

for example


Using encrypted root

If your root volume is encrypted, you need to add the encrypt hook. Then specify your root device on the kernel command line, just as if it was unencrypted.

For an encrypted partition on a SATA or SCSI disk:


For an encrypted LVM volume:


The root device will be automatically changed to /dev/mapper/root.

Using LUKS volumes

If you use LUKS for hard disk encryption, the init script will detect the encryption automatically if the encrypt hook is enabled. It will then ask for a passphrase and try to unlock the volume.

If this fails, try to add your filesystem-module to the module list in /etc/mkinitcpio.conf, if it is not compiled into your kernel.

Using a key-file

You can use a key-file to encrypt your root filesystem. Use the following format:


device is the device-file representing the device your key is stored on (e.g. /dev/sda1), fs-type is the filesystem type of this device (e.g. ext3) and path is the path to the key-file inside the filesystem of this device.

Using legacy cryptsetup volumes

If you are using a legacy cryptsetup volume, you have to specify all cryptsetup options necessary to unlock it on the kernel command line. The option format is


representing cryptsetup's --hash, --cipher, --keysize, --offset, and --skip options. If you omit an option, cryptsetup's default value is used, so you could just specify the following if you created your volume with the default settings:

Note: For technical reasons, it is not possible to verify the correctness of your passphrase with legacy cryptsetup volumes. If you typed it wrong, mounting will simply fail. It is recommended that you use LUKS instead.

Using loop-aes volumes

mkinitcpio does not support loop-aes yet.


Extracting the image

If you are curious about what is inside the initrd image, you can extract it and poke at the files inside of it.

The initrd image is an SVR4 CPIO archive, generated via the find and bsdcpio commands, optionally compressed with a compression scheme understood by the kernel: namely gzip, bzip2, lzma, lzo, or xz.

mkinitcpio includes a utility called lsinitcpio which will list and extract the contents of initramfs images.

You can list the files in the image with:

$ lsinitcpio /boot/initramfs-linux.img

And to extract them all in the current directory:

$ lsinitcpio -x /boot/initramfs-linux.img

You can also get a more human-friendly listing of the important parts in the image:

$ lsinitcpio -a /boot/initramfs-linux.img


  1. Linux Kernel documentation on initramfs
  2. Linux Kernel documentation on initrd
  3. Wikipedia article on initrd