GNU/Linux Desktop Survival Guide
by Graham Williams
Booting is simply the process of starting up the system when the computer is powered on. The computer's BIOS (the Basic Input/Output System which is programmed into the hardware of the computer) takes charge and decides what is to be done. Usually the BIOS first runs a Power-On-Self-Test (POST) and then looks for boot information which typically resides in the Master Boot Record (MBR) of the hard drive (or in general the boot sector of any available device).
For a GNU/Linux system the MBR contains a boot loader like grub, the GRand Unified Bootloader. A boot loader can provide a choice of operating systems to boot. The grub boot loader is quite flexible and supersedes lilo, an older boot manager. GRUB handles numerous deficiencies in many PC BIOSs while providing full-featured command line and graphical interfaces. It recognises fdisk partitions, can dynamically read Linux ext2fs, and MSDOS FAT16 and FAT32 filesystems, and can boot multiboot-compliant kernels (such as GNU Mach), as well as standard Linux and MS/Windows kernels. GRUB can be set up to automatically identify newly installed kernels, making the installation of new kernels quite straightforward.