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AIX Version 4.3 Commands Reference, Volume 1

bootlist Command


Displays and alters the list of boot devices available to the system.


bootlist [ { -m Mode } [ -r ] [  -o  ] [ [ -i ] | [ [ -f File ] [ DeviceAttr=Value ... ] ... ] ] ]


The bootlist command allows the user to display and alter the list of possible boot devices from which the system may be booted. When the system is booted, it will scan the devices in the list and attempt to boot from the first device it finds containing a boot image. This command supports the updating of the following:

Support of these boot lists may vary from platform to platform. A boot list can be displayed or altered only if the platform supports the specified boot list. It may even be the case that a particular hardware platform does not support any of the boot lists.

When searching for a boot device, the system selects the first device in the list and determines if it is bootable. If no boot file system is detected on the first device, the system moves on to the next device in the list. As a result, the ordering of devices in the device list is extremely important.

The bootlist command supports the specification of generic device types as well as specific devices for boot candidates. Possible device names are listed either on the command line or in a file. Devices in the boot device list occur in the same order as devices listed on the invocation of this command.

The devices to be entered into the boot list may be specified in a file. This makes an alterable record of the boot devices available for reference or future update. When the -f flag is used, the list of devices is taken from the file specified by the file variable. Devices from this list are then placed in the boot list in the order found in the file.

Attention: Care must be taken in specifying the possible boot devices. A future reboot may fail if the devices specified in the device list become unbootable. The system must not be powered off or reset during the operation of the bootlist command. If the system is reset, or if power fails at a critical point in the execution of this command, the boot list may be corrupted or lost.

The selection of the boot list to display or alter is made with the -m mode option, where the mode variable is one of the keywords: service, normal, both, or prevboot. If the both keyword is specified, then both the normal boot list and the service boot list will be displayed, or if being altered, will be set to the same list of devices. If the prevboot keyword is specified, the only alteration allowed is with the -i (invalidate) flag . The -i flag invalidates the boot list specified by the -m flag.

In versions 4.2 and later, the devices currently in the boot list may be displayed by using the -o flag. The list of devices that make up the specified boot list will be displayed, one device per line. If a device specified in the boot list is no longer present on the system, a `-' is displayed instead of a name. The output is in a form that can be captured in a file and used as input to the bootlist command with the -f flag. This may be useful for restoring a boot list after making a temporary change.

Device Choices

The device name specified on the command line (or in a file) can occur in one of two different forms:

Attribute Choices

Attributes are extra pieces of information about a device that the user supplies on the command line. Since this information is specific to a particular device, generic devices do not have attributes. Attributes apply to the device that immediately precedes them on the command line, which allows attributes to be interspersed among devices on the command line. Currently, only network devices have attributes. These are:

bserver IP address of the BOOTP server
gateway IP address of the gateway
client IP address of the client
hardware Hardware address

These attributes can be combined in the following ways:

Some of these attributes may not be supported on some hardware platforms. Additional hardware platform restrictions may apply.

The syntax for specifying an attribute is attr=value, where attr is the attribute name, value is the value, and there are no spaces before or after the =.

File Format When Using the -f Flag

The file specified by the file variable should contain device names separated by white space:

hdisk0 hdisk1 cd1

or one device per line:


Error Handling

If this command returns with an error, the device lists are not altered. The following device list errors are possible:


Device Provides the names of the specific or generic devices to include in the boot list.
-f File Indicates that the device information is to be read from the specified file name.
-i Indicates that the device list specified by the -m flag should be invalidated.
-m Mode Specifies which boot list to display or alter. Possible values for the mode variable are normal, service, both, or prevboot.
-o Indicates that the specified boot list is to be displayed after any specified alteration is performed. The output is a list of device names. This flag applies only to AIX Version 4.2 or later.
-r Indicates that the specified boot list is to be displayed after any specified alteration is performed. The output is hardware-platform dependent. It may be a hexadecimal dump of the boot list or a list of device names. (This is normally used for problem determination.)


Privilege Control: Only the root user and members of the security group should have execute (x) access to this command.

Auditing Events:

Event Information
NVRAM_Config File name


  1. To invalidate the Service mode boot list, enter:
    bootlist -m service -i
  2. To make a boot list for Normal mode with devices listed on the command line, enter:
    bootlist -m normal hdisk0 hdisk1 rmt0 fd
  3. To make a boot list for Normal mode with a device list from a file, enter:
    bootlist -m normal -f /bootlist.norm
    where bootlist.norm is a file containing device names to be placed in the boot list for Normal mode. The device names in the bootlist.norm file must comply with the described format.
  4. To invalidate the previous boot device entry, enter:
    bootlist -m prevboot
  5. To boot from a Token-Ring device in slot 2, enter:
    bootlist -m normal tok0
  6. To attempt to boot through a gateway using Ethernet, and then try other devices, enter:
    bootlist -m normal ent0 gateway= bserver=
    \ client= hdisk0 rmt0 tok0 bserver=

Related Information

The nvram special file.

Device Configuration Subsystem Programming Introduction in AIX Kernel Extensions and Device Support Programming Concepts.

List of Device Configuration Commands in AIX Kernel Extensions and Device Support Programming Concepts.

Special Files Overview in AIX Version 4.3 Files Reference.

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