Skip to content
Simple 2 stage bootloader for the izix kernel.
Assembly C Makefile Shell Logos
Branch: master
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Type Name Latest commit message Commit time
Failed to load latest commit information.


Simple "hybrid" 2-stage MBR (+ LBA 1) boot-loader designed for the izix kernel (a work in progress). izixboot reads a generic DOS partition table and looks for the first bootable partition. Extended partitions are not supported as LBA 1 is occupied by the second stage boot-loader. It will load up to 127 sectors for that partition into memory at 0x8000, initialize the GDT with a flat memory model, switch to 32-bit protected mode, and then far jump to 0x9000. It should be able to work fine with most 32-bit x86 kernels. But, at least a few tweaks to the code and the build will likely be required.


Just run make. This will create boot.elf and boot.

  • boot.elf is the boot-loader as an ELF object, complete with GDB debugging symbols. This will not work for the MBR, but is convenient for debugging and inspection.
  • boot is a two sector large raw binary boot-loader, which must be placed in LBA 0 through 1 of your boot disk.


  • GNU Make >=4.x-ish.
  • You will need a relatively recent >=4.x-ish GCC and >=2.x-ish binutils which can emit x86 code. Ensure that it's the first gcc, ld, and as in your path.


  • You can generate additional debugging objects by running make debug.
  • You can run sanity checks by running make test.
  • You can complete all targets including all, debug, and test by running make extra.
  • You can specify the compiler to use for the target by specifying CC=your-cc and the compiler for the host by specifying HOSTCC=your-host-cc on the command line, don't forget to set PATH to include the subprograms you will need for your compilers.
  • In order to use two different compilers you may need to specify the compiler subprogram path. Set the COMPILER_PATH environment variable for the target and HOST_COMPILER_PATH for the host.


Installing the boot-loader:

An installation script has been placed in scripts/ To use it invoke it with the first argument being boot, the binary boot-loader, and the second argument being your disk file or block device. This will not overwrite your primary DOS partition table, it will however overwrite your extended partition table, which is not compatible with izixboot.

Installing your kernel for use with izixboot:

First, create a new DOS partition with the bootable flag set, it can be larger than 127 sectors, but only the first 127 sectors will be used. Next, use dd to copy your kernel directly to the unformatted partition you just created. That's it, you're good to go!


  • If your kernel is not smaller than 63.5 KiB, it will not be loaded in entirety.
  • If your kernel does not use 0x9000 as the entry point at a 4 KiB offset from the start of the executable, it will not execute correctly.
  • Two arguments will be passed to your kernel:
    • The first a uint32_t representing the number of e820_3x_entry_t memory map entries (see include/izixboot/memmap.h for a definition). You should cast this value to a size_t or equivalent as soon as is convenient.
    • The second a uint32_t representing the start address of an array of e820_3x_entry_t memory map entries. You should cast this value to a e820_3x_entry_t * as soon as is convenient.
  • Definitions for the IA32 GDT entries and routines for encoding them are available in include/izixboot/gdt.h and include/izixboot/gdt32.h.
  • The stack will be initialized starting at 0x8000, but you might want to reinitialize it with something more appropriate for your kernel.
  • The GDTr will be located at 0x500, with only definitions for a privileged code segment and a data segment both 0x0000000-0xffffffff. You should probably reinitialize the GDT with something more sane that's not likely to be overwritten by your stack.
  • Paging will not be enabled, neither will any TSSs, the IDT, or anything else fancy like that.


izixboot  --  Simple "hybrid" 2-stage MBR (+ LBA 1) boot-loader.
Copyright (C) 2017  Isabell Cowan

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or
(at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
along with this program.  If not, see <>.
You can’t perform that action at this time.