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Note: systemboot has been merged into u-root. This repository is now read-only and staying only for historical reasons, but you should build your bootloader entirely from u-root. How? The CLI tools have been moved under u-root/cmds/boot{fbnetboot,localboot,uinit}, the libraries under [u-root/pkg/]{bootconfig,booter,checker,crypto,recovery,rng,storage,vpd}. u-root/tools/vpdbootmanager and u-root/examples/fixmynetboot.

SystemBoot is a distribution for LinuxBoot to create a system firmware + bootloader. It is based on u-root. The provided programs are:

This work is similar to the pxeboot and boot commands that are already part of u-root, but approach and implementation are slightly different. Thanks to Chris Koch and Jean-Marie Verdun for pioneering in this area.

This project started as a personal experiment under but it is now an effort of a broader community and graduated to a real project for system firmwares.

The next sections go into further details.


The netboot client has the duty of configuring the network, downloading a boot program, and kexec’ing it. Optionally, the network configuration can be obtained via SLAAC and the boot program URL can be overridden to use a known endpoint.

In its DHCP-mode operation, netboot does the following:

There is an additional mode that uses SLAAC and a known endpoint, that can be enabled with -skip-dhcp, -netboot-url, and a working SLAAC configuration.


The localboot program looks for bootable kernels on attached storage and tries to boot them in order, until one succeeds. In the future it will support a configurable boot order, but for that I need Google VPD support, which will come soon.

In the current mode, localboot does the following:

In the future I will also support VPD, which will be used as a substitute for EFI variables, in this specific case to hold the boot order of the various boot entries.


The uinit program just wraps netboot and localboot in a forever-loop logic, just like your BIOS/UEFI would do. At the moment it just loops between netboot and localboot in this order, but I plan to make this more flexible and configurable.

How to build systemboot

go get -u
go get -u{uinit,localboot,netboot}
u-root -build=bb core{uinit,localboot,netboot}

The initramfs will be located in /tmp/initramfs_${platform}_${arch}.cpio.

More detailed information about the build process for a full LinuxBoot firmware image using u-root/systemboot and coreboot can be found in the LinuxBoot book chapter 11, LinuxBoot using coreboot, u-root and systemboot.

Example: LinuxBoot with coreboot

One of the ways to create a LinuxBoot system firmware is by using coreboot do the basic silicon and DRAM initialization, and then run Linux as payload, with u-root and systemboot as initramfs. See the following diagram:

LinuxBoot and coreboot (images from and, diagram generated with

Build and run as a fully open source bootloader in Qemu

Systemboot is one of the parts of a bigger picture: running Linux as firmware. We call this LinuxBoot, and it can be achieved in various ways. One of these is by combining coreboot, Linux, u-root and systemboot. Check out the instructions on the LinuxBoot using coreboot, u-root and systemboot chapter of the LinuxBoot Book.