init (8)


       init, telinit - process control initialization


       /sbin/init [ -a ] [ -s ] [ -b ] [ -z xxx ] [ 0123456Ss ]
       /sbin/telinit [ -t sec ] [ 0123456sSQqabcUu ]


       Init  is  the  parent  of all processes.  Its primary role is to create
       processes from a script stored in  the  file  /etc/inittab  (see  init-
       tab(5)).   This file usually has entries which cause init to spawn get-
       tys on each line that users can log in.  It  also  controls  autonomous
       processes required by any particular system.


       A  runlevel is a software configuration of the system which allows only
       a selected group of processes to exist.  The processes spawned by  init
       for each of these runlevels are defined in the /etc/inittab file.  Init
       can be in one of eight runlevels: 0-6 and S  or  s.   The  runlevel  is
       changed  by having a privileged user run telinit, which sends appropri-
       ate signals to init, telling it which runlevel to change to.

       Runlevels 0, 1, and 6 are reserved. Runlevel 0 is used to halt the sys-
       tem, runlevel 6 is used to reboot the system, and runlevel 1 is used to
       get the system down into single user mode. Runlevel  S  is  not  really
       meant  to  be used directly, but more for the scripts that are executed
       when entering runlevel 1. For more information on this,  see  the  man-
       pages for shutdown(8) and inittab(5).

       Runlevels  7-9  are  also  valid, though not really documented. This is
       because "traditional" Unix variants don't use  them.   In  case  you're
       curious,  runlevels  S and s are in fact the same.  Internally they are
       aliases for the same runlevel.


       After init is invoked as the last step of the kernel boot sequence,  it
       looks for the file /etc/inittab to see if there is an entry of the type
       initdefault (see inittab(5)). The initdefault entry determines the ini-
       tial  runlevel  of  the  system.   If  there  is  no  such entry (or no
       /etc/inittab at all), a runlevel must be entered at the system console.

       Runlevel S or s bring the system to single user mode and do not require
       an /etc/inittab file.  In single user mode, a root shell is  opened  on

       When  entering  single  user  mode,  init  reads the console's ioctl(2)
       states from /etc/ If this file does not exist, init initial-
       izes  the line at 9600 baud and with CLOCAL settings.  When init leaves
       single user mode, it stores the console's ioctl settings in  this  file
       so it can re-use them for the next single-user session.

       When  entering  a multi-user mode for the first time, init performs the
       died  in  /var/run/utmp  and  /var/log/wtmp,  provided that these files


       After it has spawned all of the processes specified, init waits for one
       of  its descendant processes to die, a powerfail signal, or until it is
       signaled by telinit to change the system's runlevel.  When one  of  the
       above  three  conditions  occurs, it re-examines the /etc/inittab file.
       New entries can be added to this file at any time.  However, init still
       waits  for  one of the above three conditions to occur.  To provide for
       an instantaneous response, the telinit Q or q command can wake up  init
       to re-examine the /etc/inittab file.

       If  init  is  not  in  single user mode and receives a powerfail signal
       (SIGPWR), it reads the file /etc/powerstatus. It then starts a  command
       based on the contents of this file:

       F(AIL) Power is failing, UPS is providing the power. Execute the power-
              wait and powerfail entries.

       O(K)   The power has been restored, execute the powerokwait entries.

       L(OW)  The power is failing and the UPS has a low battery. Execute  the
              powerfailnow entries.

       If  /etc/powerstatus  doesn't  exist or contains anything else then the
       letters F, O or L, init will behave as if it has read the letter F.

       Usage of SIGPWR and /etc/powerstatus is discouraged. Someone wanting to
       interact  with  init  should use the /dev/initctl control channel - see
       the source code of the sysvinit package for  more  documentation  about

       When  init  is  requested  to change the runlevel, it sends the warning
       signal SIGTERM to all processes that are undefined in the new runlevel.
       It then waits 5 seconds before forcibly terminating these processes via
       the SIGKILL signal.  Note that init assumes that  all  these  processes
       (and  their  descendants)  remain  in the same process group which init
       originally created for them.  If any process changes its process  group
       affiliation  it will not receive these signals.  Such processes need to
       be terminated separately.


       /sbin/telinit is linked to /sbin/init.  It takes a one-character  argu-
       ment and signals init to perform the appropriate action.  The following
       arguments serve as directives to telinit:

       0,1,2,3,4,5 or 6
              tell init to switch to the specified run level.

       a,b,c  tell init to process only those /etc/inittab file entries having
              runlevel a,b or c.

       Q or q tell init to re-examine the /etc/inittab file.

       S or s tell init to switch to single user mode.

       The  init binary checks if it is init or telinit by looking at its pro-
       cess id; the real init's process id is always 1.  From this it  follows
       that instead of calling telinit one can also just use init instead as a


       Init sets the following environment variables for all its children:

       PATH   /usr/local/sbin:/sbin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin

              As the name says. Useful to determine if a script runs  directly
              from init.

              The current system runlevel.

              The previous runlevel (useful after a runlevel switch).

              The  system  console.  This is really inherited from the kernel;
              however if it is not set init will set  it  to  /dev/console  by


       It  is possible to pass a number of flags to init from the boot monitor
       (eg. LILO). Init accepts the following flags:

       -s, S, single
            Single user mode boot. In this mode /etc/inittab is  examined  and
            the  bootup rc scripts are usually run before the single user mode
            shell is started.

       1-5  Runlevel to boot into.

       -b, emergency
            Boot directly into a single user shell without running  any  other
            startup scripts.

       -a, auto
            The  LILO  boot loader adds the word "auto" to the command line if
            it booted the kernel with the default command line  (without  user
            intervention).  If this is found init sets the "AUTOBOOT" environ-
            ment variable to "yes". Note that you  cannot  use  this  for  any
            security  measures - of course the user could specify "auto" or -a
            on the command line manually.

       -z xxx
            The argument to -z is ignored. You can use this to expand the com-
            mand  line  a  bit, so that it takes some more space on the stack.
            Init can then manipulate the command line so that ps(1) shows  the


       Init reacts to several signals:

            Init looks for /etc/initrunlvl and /var/log/initrunlvl.  If one of
            these  files exist and contain an ASCII runlevel, init switches to
            the new runlevel.  This is for backwards compatibility only! .  In
            the normal case (the files don't exist) init behaves like  telinit
            q was executed.

            On receipt of this signals, init closes and re-opens  its  control
            fifo, /dev/initctl. Useful for bootscripts when /dev is remounted.

            Normally the kernel sends this signal to init when CTRL-ALT-DEL is
            pressed. It activates the ctrlaltdel action.

            The  kernel  sends this signal when the KeyboardSignal key is hit.
            It activates the kbrequest action.


       Init is compatible with the System V init. It  works  closely  together
       with  the  scripts  in  the  directories  /etc/init.d  and /etc/rc{run-
       level}.d.  If your system uses  this  convention,  there  should  be  a
       README  file  in the directory /etc/init.d explaining how these scripts




       Init assumes that processes and descendants of processes remain in  the
       same  process group which was originally created for them.  If the pro-
       cesses change their group, init can't kill them and you may end up with
       two processes reading from one terminal line.


       If  init finds that it is continuously respawning an entry more than 10
       times in 2 minutes, it will assume that there is an error in  the  com-
       mand  string,  generate  an  error  message  on the system console, and
       refuse to respawn this entry until either 5 minutes has elapsed  or  it
       receives  a  signal.   This prevents it from eating up system resources
       when someone makes a typographical error in the  /etc/inittab  file  or
       the program for the entry is removed.


       Miquel  van  Smoorenburg  (,  initial manual page by