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init/main.c: improve usability in case of init binary failure

- new Documentation/init.txt file describing various forms of failure
  trying to load the init binary after kernel bootup

- extend the init/main.c init failure message to direct to

Signed-off-by: Andreas Mohr <>
Signed-off-by: Andrew Morton <>
Signed-off-by: Linus Torvalds <>
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1 parent 87d5e02 commit 9a85b8d6049cbb0e7961df2069322fbc4192026a @andim2 andim2 committed with Mar 5, 2010
Showing with 51 additions and 1 deletion.
  1. +49 −0 Documentation/init.txt
  2. +2 −1 init/main.c
@@ -0,0 +1,49 @@
+Explaining the dreaded "No init found." boot hang message
+OK, so you've got this pretty unintuitive message (currently located
+in init/main.c) and are wondering what the H*** went wrong.
+Some high-level reasons for failure (listed roughly in order of execution)
+to load the init binary are:
+A) Unable to mount root FS
+B) init binary doesn't exist on rootfs
+C) broken console device
+D) binary exists but dependencies not available
+E) binary cannot be loaded
+Detailed explanations:
+0) Set "debug" kernel parameter (in bootloader config file or CONFIG_CMDLINE)
+ to get more detailed kernel messages.
+A) make sure you have the correct root FS type
+ (and root= kernel parameter points to the correct partition),
+ required drivers such as storage hardware (such as SCSI or USB!)
+ and filesystem (ext3, jffs2 etc.) are builtin (alternatively as modules,
+ to be pre-loaded by an initrd)
+C) Possibly a conflict in console= setup --> initial console unavailable.
+ E.g. some serial consoles are unreliable due to serial IRQ issues (e.g.
+ missing interrupt-based configuration).
+ Try using a different console= device or e.g. netconsole= .
+D) e.g. required library dependencies of the init binary such as
+ /lib/ missing or broken. Use readelf -d <INIT>|grep NEEDED
+ to find out which libraries are required.
+E) make sure the binary's architecture matches your hardware.
+ E.g. i386 vs. x86_64 mismatch, or trying to load x86 on ARM hardware.
+ In case you tried loading a non-binary file here (shell script?),
+ you should make sure that the script specifies an interpreter in its shebang
+ header line (#!/...) that is fully working (including its library
+ dependencies). And before tackling scripts, better first test a simple
+ non-script binary such as /bin/sh and confirm its successful execution.
+ To find out more, add code to init/main.c to display kernel_execve()s
+ return values.
+Please extend this explanation whenever you find new failure causes
+(after all loading the init binary is a CRITICAL and hard transition step
+which needs to be made as painless as possible), then submit patch to LKML.
+Further TODOs:
+- Implement the various run_init_process() invocations via a struct array
+ which can then store the kernel_execve() result value and on failure
+ log it all by iterating over _all_ results (very important usability fix).
+- try to make the implementation itself more helpful in general,
+ e.g. by providing additional error messages at affected places.
+Andreas Mohr <andi at lisas period de>
@@ -847,7 +847,8 @@ static noinline int init_post(void)
- panic("No init found. Try passing init= option to kernel.");
+ panic("No init found. Try passing init= option to kernel. "
+ "See Linux Documentation/init.txt for guidance.");
static int __init kernel_init(void * unused)

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