Step 4 Control is handed over to init

Once the kernel's finished loading, it passes off the system initialization process to a program named init. The init program is responsible for starting all services and programs. You can see these processes starting as they scroll up the screen with [OK] or [FAILED] on the right side of the monitor. If you see these lines, you know that your kernel has finished loading.

The main problems you may encounter with i nit are services (programs that run in the background) that fail to start properly, as is indicated by the [FAILED] status shown during the boot process. Many of these services don't keep you from logging in and using your system. Services usually fail because of misconfigurations or unsupported hardware drivers. Sometimes a problem service takes a long time to start up, so you may need some patience while you wait it out. Once the machine boots up, you can use the techniques described in Chapter 12 to shut off the problem service if it's being a pain. If the machine can't boot because of this service, you'll need to access your distribution's rescue mode to shut off the service. Rescue mode is covered in the next section. Entering Rescue ModeHeavy-duty system repair tends to happen in rescue mode, which is a special boot selection that simulates your hard disk in what is called a RAM disk, holding the files entirely in memory. The benefit of this disk is that you can perform necessary system surgery without requiring utilities that are part of the installed system; everything you need is part of the rescue disk. The drawback is that this is a purely command-line interface, and you really have to know your stuff to find your way around.

Appendix A contains a list of Linux commands, roadmap to try to help you out. Chapter 20 addresses, among other things, how to fix your boot loaders from here if your problem is with the boot loader, and how to track down the error messages your kernel might have left behind. You may also be able to find helpful tips by reviewing your distribution's documentation and help forums.

Knoppix is quite popular to use for system rescues because it's a whole distribution on a CD. (For more on Knoppix and live CDs, see Chapter 2.) See Chapter 20 for more on using Knoppix for things like rescuing broken Linux (and even Windows) systems.

Just about every Linux distribution includes a rescue mode. Due to space restrictions, I have room to cover entering only Fedora's rescue mode in step-by-step detail, but at the very least, here's a quick reference to how to find the rescue mode in the distributions covered in this book:

^ Linspire: The CD contains a rescue mode. When the installer starts, use your arrow keys to select Diagnostics and then press Enter.

^ Fedora: The DVD, or the first installation CD, contains a rescue mode that you can enter by typing linux rescue at the installer's boot prompt.

^ Mandrake: The first CD contains a rescue mode. When the installer starts, press F1 to access the command prompt, type rescue, and press Enter.

i SuSE: The DVD, or the first installation CD, contains a Rescue System menu option. Use your arrow keys to highlight this option and press Enter.

i Xandros: The CD contains a rescue mode. When the installer starts, press the Shift key. This action opens a list of menu options. Use the arrow keys to select Rescue Console, and press Enter.

To enter rescue mode in Fedora Core, place the DVD or your first CD into your DVD-ROM or CD-ROM drive and boot the machine. Then follow these steps:

1. When the disk first loads, type linux rescue at the boot prompt. This action begins booting the system into maintenance mode.

2. Select your language and press Enter.

3. Select your keyboard type and press Enter.

The rescue system does its thing for a while, perhaps a minute or two on a slow system.

4. When asked whether you want to start the network interfaces, answer No unless you know you need to download something.

5. At the Rescue screen, select one of the three options offered and then press Enter.

Your three options are

• Continue: The rescue interface tracks down your installed Fedora Core system for you.

If you select this option (or the next) and it fails, you may need to reboot and restart the rescue system. After restarting, choose Skip.

• Read-Only: The same as Continue, but you aren't able to make any changes to your hard drive installation.

• Skip: Don't bother trying to locate the filesystem, just give me a prompt!

I assume that you chose Continue. If so, a shell prompt (the rescue command-line interface) appears, and you now have access to the rescue interface.

6. If the rescue process was able to load your Fedora installation, type chroot/mnt/sysimage to be able to use your system without having to type /mnt/sysimage in front of everything.

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