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Open Source Linux

LILO Bootloader Development To End 135

An anonymous reader writes: For any longtime Linux users, you probably remember the LILO bootloader from Linux distributions of many years ago. This bootloader has been in development since the 90's but development is finally ending. A homepage message reads, "I plan to finish development of LILO at 12/2015 because of some limitations (e.g. with BTFS, GPT, RAID). If someone want to develop this nice software further, please let me know ..."
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LILO Bootloader Development To End

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  • LI (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 01, 2015 @08:57AM (#50435203)

    fucked up partition table

    • makes me wonder what percentage of slashdotters still understand your reference...
      LI oh shit oh shit oh shit LO phew

      also, who the f thought RED was the best default colour for a boot menu? it looks like a freaking error before you even start booting up the OS. personally, i find lilo just as uncomfortable to use as grub2. to me, grub 1 was the pinnacle of bootloader usability (blue colour, yay!)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    RIP thanks for the memories

  • by Bob the Super Hamste ( 1152367 ) on Tuesday September 01, 2015 @09:02AM (#50435237) Homepage
    Well it looks like Patrick will have to make a change.
    • Slackware team offered to help. They might fork it
      • by resfilter ( 960880 ) on Tuesday September 01, 2015 @09:25AM (#50435379)

        it's perfectly ok for a really mature peice of software to stay in a distrubution, even in a relatively unmaintained state.

        you don't have to 'change' something just because new features aren't being added anymore, until the lack of a new feature prevents it from being installed on more than a few edge cases, or a substantial bug is found that makes its use unsafe.

        i doubt either of these will be the case with lilo for many years.

        • by TWX ( 665546 )
          Filesystems change, and the fundamental nature of how our computers boot is always up for grabs. If there's no maintainer I don't think that it will remain viable for all that long.
          • by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Tuesday September 01, 2015 @10:51AM (#50436103) Homepage

            the fundamental nature of how our computers boot is always up for GRUBs.

            • This pun hurt. Oh, but it hurt so good...

            • by Karzz1 ( 306015 )
              While you definitely deserve your Funny mods, I have issues with grub2.

              One of the big advantages of grub1 over lilo was that you didn't have to run anything when you made a change in the config. You could also *easily* edit the config at boot time if needs be (typos etc...). The option to edit at boot time still exists in grub2 but that horrific, bloated configuration file is almost meaningless to anyone who is not a grub developer; not to mention having to run grub-install to affect changes.

              grub2 see
          • It didn't really need to understand new file systems. As I recall it kept a list of blocks that were a part of the boot image. Ultimately things are complex enough that you need multiple boot loader stages but originally LILO had to be very small and compact. If it works on a computer it'll keep working unless something radical changes (such as someone turning the boot device into a RAID system).

            Also none of this is really about a fundamental nature of how computers boot, it's about the how the very stra

        • by mlts ( 1038732 )

          LILO has been a fundamental piece of the OS for many years, and has worked quite well. GRUB has eclipsed it for most uses, but for applications where every byte of storage is at a premium, it still has a place.

          It is something that is well maintained, and can probably be retired, but still be useful, mainly since BIOS booting won't have the security changed and enhancements that UEFI comes with, so there isn't much that may change with the old BIOS based process in the future.

          I'm grateful that it has been w

        • by rioki ( 1328185 )

          I liked LILO, because of the simple fact that is was so much simpler than GRUB. If you are booting a single partition system (plus swap) from ext3, there is not much wizbang you need. But then I also just use what the distro uses by default, since it works out of the box.

      • From Patrick himself...

        http://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/slackware-14/lilo-developer-stepping-down-ending-the-project-4175552274/#post5413967 [linuxquestions.org]

        "As long as it works, we'll include it."

        I've always preferred LILO over Grub. It's simplicity has always been great.

        • by Skiron ( 735617 )
          Well said. LILO works, and is simple. Well done Pat as well.

          Too many well's there, I thing, but LILO works well :)
    • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Tuesday September 01, 2015 @10:41AM (#50435993) Journal

      Nope, and he basically already said he does not plan to do so. New systems are going to be EFI more and more which means they will use ELILO, not LILO for systems using BIOS the current release of LILO will probably be fine and remain so.

  • by nycsubway ( 79012 ) on Tuesday September 01, 2015 @09:02AM (#50435239) Homepage

    Thanks for maintaining LILO all these years. I certainly do remember LILO loading on my first installations of Linux. I tried to install it on an IBM PS/2 and the biggest challenge was their micro channel architecture. I don't think I was successful at all, but I learned quickly what the LIL... meant.

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      I haven't noticed LILO in years. GRUB is mostly the default these days - from what I've seen. If it has been in a distro then it is in so deep that I did not notice. Add to that things like boot-repair and I've not even had to play with GRUB manually either. I don't actually remember the last time I saw LILO? I've not tried them all but I've not seen a distro with it in ages - at least not one that I noticed.

      • I haven't noticed LILO in years.

        Same here, with grub and loadlin [linux.sh] available, and I know grub is actively maintained, I can't say I've missed anything. Plus with EFI now, well, it seems like a solution looking for a problem.

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          I've pondered if there should be an open standard and just having a boot loader embedded in the BIOS that can be changed to boot to different partitions, disks, networked drives, etc... It could even allow you to setup a boot menu to select your OS of choice. In my mind it's the perfect spot to put it and I've yet to find a GOOD reason for this to not be the case.

          A simple pointer, or pointers for those who multi-boot, and an optional menu would be fairly trivial and it's not like it makes a giant security h

      • I still use LILO because some old motherboards won't boot with GRUB in 64-bit mode. GRUB actually stopped working when I switched the CPU to a 64-bit one and updated the distro on one mobo. This was around 2010 and I hadn't used LILO in years, so it was weird to go back, but it gets the job done so I don't mind.
        • I still use LILO because some old motherboards won't boot with GRUB in 64-bit mode.

          you can probably emulate those old systems on a modern $300 computer

          • you can probably emulate those old systems on a modern $300 computer

            It's not about emulation, as these are plain x86-64 machines, not some old architecture. It's about cost. I paid closer to $30 than $300 for these machines, and they get the job done until I find a good reason to invest a few hundred in something more modern.

            • I've been a longtime hardware hoarder for nearly 3 decades so I share your sentiment. But at some point, it's not worth it.

              You may have paid $30 for the machine itself, but you continue to pay every year for it in terms of power, maintenance, occupied space, and if your hobby time is limited, engineering time figuring out hacks to make it continue working.

              Particularly if these are x86-64 machines that don't work with grub, suggesting that they were from around the first generation. If you recall that
              • You may have paid $30 for the machine itself, but you continue to pay every year for it in terms of power, maintenance, occupied space, and if your hobby time is limited, engineering time figuring out hacks to make it continue working.

                Particularly if these are x86-64 machines that don't work with grub, suggesting that they were from around the first generation. If you recall that time in the 90's, those cpus were huge power hogs. I'd never encountered power supplies burning out (without a discrete graphics card) until I met those first gen 64s. Nowadays, you can easily power a magnitude more compute power with the same electrical power cost.

                I understand the general sentiment, I was kind of expecting this. I'm rather power conscious in general, and all of my machines, including these old ones, have "laptop" CPUs in small form factor mobos (if not actual laptops). The old ones have a similar TDP to modern laptop ones. One of these mobos runs off a 80 W PicoPSU; the others have heavy discrete GPUs, so they have semi-regular (though fanless) PSUs.

                I'm well aware that modern CPUs are more efficient, and I could actually use modern mobos with more

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          That's an interesting use for it. I've not had GRUB not work in a very long time - I recall it breaking once when I'd been dual booting Linux and XP. I can't actually remember any other issues with it and that happened after an update? On the other mitt, I've had LILO flake a few more times. I seem to recall it trashing my MBR bad enough that an MBR repair did not work and I had issues re-installing on any partition and was forced to actually reformat the drive - I think I may have even had to do a low-leve

  • by resfilter ( 960880 ) on Tuesday September 01, 2015 @09:08AM (#50435279)

    .. of slackware people.

    as a slackware user myself, i have no real problem with grub and i use it on a few machines where it's advantageous, but most of my systems still boot with lilo, and i don't see any need to change them around in the near future.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm on Gentoo. With a lot of the systematic (ahem) churn nowadays, I feel a bit of kinship with the Slackware people.

      When Grub got grubby (v2.0), I held off as long as I could with Grub 1. Then I found Syslinux and have never looked back. It *is* a little bit odd since you have to have the kernel in the same partition as extlinux, but this is not so strange if you are using a separate boot partition anyway. In my preferred setup, I have a statically linked Busybox and scripts in that partition so that i

    • I still use lilo on all 3 of my boxes. I don't need a pre boot "enviroment" or however grub is described, I just want the OS booted and up and running ASAP. If there's a problem with booting I'll just grab a live DVD , I'm not going to wrestle with a load of cryptic bootloader commands to try and solve the problem.

  • by UbuntuniX ( 1126607 ) on Tuesday September 01, 2015 @09:11AM (#50435297) Homepage
    I was using LILO for quite a while recently, as my newest PC has a terrible UEFI system and the Debian installer couldn't configure GRUB by itself. It served me well in the interim.
  • Mostly troll posts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Psychotria ( 953670 ) on Tuesday September 01, 2015 @09:24AM (#50435367)

    The current comments are mostly trolls and brain-dead idiocy. As typical for the new /.

    It wasn't until around 1999-2000 (I think) that distros started replacing LILO with GRUB as the default bootloader. GRUB offered many new powerful features that certainly helped its adoption. That is not to say, though, that LILO didn't have benefits as well (and in some circumstances it still does). It's sad to see that such a pinnacle piece of software contributing to Linux's success is going to be discontinued by the project's primary developer. LILO is such an important part of Linux history that it deserves a place is some kind of "hall of fame". But, it's open sourced so maybe -- just maybe -- someone will pick up the project so that it doesn't die. If not then it will be fondly remembered by those of us who were using Linux back in the olden days (1994 was my first install). Even if it's not continued the source code is informative, but the trolls will not understand that and just keep on using whatever their bootloader and praising whatever it is without understanding wtf it actually does and how the boot process actually works.

    • ...it will be fondly remembered by those of us who were using Linux back in the olden days

      There is no need (yet) to be nostalgic about LILO: I (ex slackware, now gentoo) am still using LILO, and probably many others are using it too. If it ain't broken, why replace it?

    • maybe it will get picked up by systemD to replace the Grub bootloader ;-)

      • maybe it will get picked up by systemD to replace the Grub bootloader ;-)

        In other news, LILO is being replace with STITCH.

    • While I appreciate and respect the work that went into LILO, I'm not going to wax nostalgic about it. There were lots of things I used daily Back Then - think AGP drivers, X modelines, PATA - that served me well but that I'm happy to move past. LILO did its job and I'm grateful to it, but I don't feel like a troll for not caring about what it's been up to for the last decade or so.
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday September 01, 2015 @09:29AM (#50435401) Homepage Journal

    for the maintainers. The bootloader is a not particularly glamorous problem to work on, but it's critical to everyone and because it involves differing interpretations of standards by manufacturers and various OS developers it had to have been a headache.

    Of course later projects had the luxury of a clean sheet, hindsight, and more hardware resources, but without a solid bootloader in the early says of Linux, history would have been very different.

  • by unimacs ( 597299 ) on Tuesday September 01, 2015 @09:39AM (#50435463)
    I used it a very long time ago and countless people have used it before and since. It's far better to have a definite end date rather than just sporadic updates that grow farther apart and less significant, - leaving people to wonder if it's being maintained or not.

    Instead of the maintainer feeling the occasional pang of guilt over not doing anything, they can feel good about what was accomplished during the life of the project and move on to the next thing.
  • What can I say? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I've used it recently in some distro I tried (maybe a Slackware derivative) and I was surprised it still worked well after all these years (it's an old machine, but anyway...).

    I can only say thanks... to Werner, John and Joachim. These three guys have been in the forefront of the good battle and millions of people owe them at least a lot of respect.

    I wonder whether there are any scenarios where LILO works and Grub won't...

    LILO - Grub, Xfree86 - Xorg, SysV - Systemd, Fvwm - KDE & Xfce, OpenOffice.org - L

  • Poettering will soon release a boot loader with systemd because GRUB and LILO are 'too difficult to use'. Instead you'll have to define the boot loader in an XML and then use /usr/sbin/bootloaderctl to load/unload it. However if your boot loader is not "vendor-defined" to on in your distribution, you'll have to manually load it every kernel upgrade.

    • Too difficult to use? Would love to see some cites or references to that or something...
  • My personal/playpen Linux box at work is Slackware. It uses LILO. Of course.

    There is always a place for software that works. Software that does one thing, does exactly what it's supposed to do, and does it well.


  • systemd (Score:3, Funny)

    by El_Muerte_TDS ( 592157 ) on Tuesday September 01, 2015 @01:00PM (#50437451) Homepage

    Can't simply replace LILO with systemd?

  • by Anonymous Coward


  • First init, and now this? Where will it end?

  • I only switched to GRUB because of installed defaults and my laziness. LILO was, imo, always simpler, cleaner, made more sense.

    GRUB works, but it feels like it's been engineered to be way more than it needs to be, and, in the process, it starts to suck. As an example, I started looking into GRUB theming (hey, a pretty boot screen would be nice). Turns out I could never convince GRUB to use a TTF font and display the table (and items in the table) correctly. That's a feature that may as well not be in there

  • Stating that LILO and GRUB were "confusing and broken", Lennart Poettering has announced that SystemD will take over MBR management. "It's just a small step towards complete system domination", the great leader was heard to muse, "After all, PulseAudio did so well and everyone is loving how much easier SystemD is than init scripts. What could possibly go wrong?".

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong