From ArchWiki

Booster is a fast initramfs generator similar to mkinitcpio and dracut. Booster is inspired by the "distri" project and aims to create a small and fast init image.

Booster provides the /usr/bin/booster user-space tool, responsible for initramfs image generation. The generated images are located at /boot/ by default.


Install booster. The package installation hook will generate initramfs images, one per installed kernel (e.g. for linux, linux-lts). The images are located under /boot directory:

$ ls -lh /boot/booster*
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 4.0M Dec 16 16:20 /boot/booster-linux.img

Or the image can be built manually:

$ booster build mybooster.img


Booster's generator configuration file is located at /etc/booster.yaml. If there is no configuration file then the default configuration (host-specific images, no network) is used.

The configuration file helps to override the default behaviour. See booster(1) § CONFIG FILE for detailed information.

Early module loading

There are situations when some kernel modules need to be loaded early, at initramfs stage.

For example, if you need to load the nvidia module, then use the following configuration setting:

modules_force_load: nvidia

And then regenerate booster images.


Booster supports LUKS based full-disk encryption out-of-the-box like Clevis. The generator does not need any extra configuration. Yet, for the initramfs you need to append information about the LUKS partition where the root resides. This is done with either rd.luks.uuid=LUKSUUID or kernel parameter that need to be specified in the boot loader configuration file. LUKSUUID specifies the UUID of the encrypted LUKS partition that needs to be unlocked by Booster. The booster(1) § UUID parameters manual recommends that the UUID does not contain any quotes. LUKSNAME specifies name of the unlocked partition (as in /dev/mapper/LUKSNAME). See booster(1) § BOOT TIME KERNEL PARAMETERS for related options.

No image rebuild is required. Once the boot loader configuration is done, reboot the computer. After that you will see a Enter passphrase for YOURROOT: prompt at boot time asking for a password for the encrypted root partition.

systemd style binding

Booster also supports partitions bound with systemd such as systemd-fido2 and systemd-tpm2.

If you use `systemd-fido2` then please install libfido2 package and add fido2-assert to the image using following configuration:

extra_files: fido2-assert

Regenerate the booster images. Booster will detect this configuration during boot and use the present YubiKey to unlock the drive.

Note: Before commit 1b65577, it has been reported Booster may not load some necessary kernel modules early enough to unlock encrypted partitions with a FIDO2 key. In this case, add the following modules to be forcibly loaded:
modules_force_load: usbhid,hid_sensor_hub
extra_files: fido2-assert

Regenerate booster images

Once you are done with configuring Booster, you need to update Booster images at /boot. An image can be generated manually with booster build booster-foo.img or using a convenience script /usr/lib/booster/regenerate_images that iterates over all installed kernels and generates a Booster image for each of them.

Boot loader configuration

Once the image is generated it is time to configure the boot loader.


If the configuration relies on automatic detection already, no additional configuration change is necessary. rEFInd supports initrd files named booster*.

If you specify the initramfs path manually, either in refind.conf or in manual boot stanzas, make sure to use the correct files names. I.e. booster-linux.img instead of initramfs-linux.img.


To enable the new initramfs image with systemd-boot simply create a new boot loader entry like this one:

title Arch Linux with booster
linux /vmlinuz-linux
initrd /booster-linux.img
options root=UUID=08f83949-bcbb-47bb-bc17-089aaa59e17e rw

Where the root filesystem is referenced by UUID=08f83949-bcbb-47bb-bc17-089aaa59e17e. To find your root device UUID run blkid /dev/ROOTDEVICE.



If Booster has issues and does not work as expected, enable debug output that provides extra information about what is going on:

  • for generator there is a -debug command line flag: booster -debug.
  • for init there is a booster.debug kernel parameter.

If you believe it is an issue with Booster itself, then please file a ticket on GitHub.

Booster generator fails with "too many open files" error

If you enabled strip and universal and see an error like /usr/lib/modules/glue_helper.ko: pipe2: too many open files, then you need to increase per-process limit for open files. See Limits.conf#nofile.

See also