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A bootloader is a program that helps start up a computer system by loading the main executable programs from a disk of similar media to the computer's RAM.

I guess there are at least three different cases:

  • In the PC world, the BIOS (program) typically contains a bootloader that looks for a program in a specific location (the MBR, often at track 0, sector 0, side o (???) of a hard drive). Sometimes the program stored there is the operating system's kernel, sometimes it is another more powerful boot loader, like LILO, GRUB, etc. (what are the names of some of the dos/Windows boot loaders?) The bootloader in the BIOS is sometimes referred to as the primary boot loader. If a more powerful boot loader is stored in the MBR, it is sometimes referred to as the secondary boot loader.

I'm still at least a little confused here -- what if the boot loader is stored in the boot record of a particular partition?? Is that a third boot loader -- or does the primary boot loader search for a boot loader (or kernel) in the first primary partition if one is not found in the MBR.

Also, I'm assuming that the primary boot loader does something clever to separate the 446 bytes in the MBR that represent a boot loader from the 64 bytes of the partition table.

Some boot loaders:


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  • () RandyKramer - 07 Mar 2003
  • <If you edit this page: add your name here; move this to the next line; and include your comment marker (initials), if you have created one, in parenthesis before your WikiName.>

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Topic revision: r1 - 2003-03-07 - RandyKramer
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