What Is A Bootloader And How Does It Work? Complete Guide 2021 – Have you ever thought about how a computer can immediately run the operating system when you press the power button?
What Is A Bootloader And How Does It Work Complete Guide
The bootloader is very important for the operating system. However, it is often overlooked as a core component of a computer. This is because it plays its role in the background, helping to activate the operating system properly. Most processors in devices have programs preloaded. These programs are known as bootloaders.
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This article explains what a bootloader is and how it works. If you are interested in learning about what a bootloader is and how it works, this article is for you.
What is Bootloader
When turned on, the computer has an empty state. This means that there are no programs in its memory and its components cannot be accessed. The bootloader helps load the operating system or runtime environment to add programs to memory and provide access for components. This is needed to start the startup process, initialize the hardware, and give control to the kernel, which initializes the operating system.
The main components of the bootloader include the basic input/output system (BIOS), the firmware contained in the Read-Only Memory (ROM) of the PC. When the PC is turned on, the BIOS runs before any other programs run. The BIOS consists of:
- POST (Power On Self Test)
- Boot Sector Loader
- BIOS interrupts
- Setup Menu
Setup Menu helps adjust bootloader parameters. Modern BIOS versions are used to set different parameters. This includes the boot order, which determines which devices the BIOS checks before booting. The boot sector loader loads the first 512-byte sector of the boot disk into RAM. This is required for the first available block or sector of memory on the media to be backed up and for records.
BIOS interrupts are device drivers that the bootloader relies on to access the screen, keyboard, and disk. Not all operating systems use BIOS interrupts. In addition to the BIOS, there are extension ROMs. The main BIOS might start an extension ROM. The bootloader usually consists of three programs:
- Boot sector program that is loaded directly by the BIOS at boot time
- The second stage program loaded by the boot sector program to complete the boot process
- Bootloader installer to install the bootloader and second stage programs on the boot disk.
UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) is the modern successor to BIOS and is a mini operating system that loads the bootloader into memory before executing additional operational routines. Despite having some similarities with BIOS, several key differences have led many to consider UEFI as a replacement for the previous BIOS.
One of the main differences between UEFI and BIOS is how UEFI provides an operational interface for computers and uses new mechanisms and functions. In addition, although UEFI does not specify how the firmware should be programmed as a whole, it does affect the interface between the firmware and the operating system.
The UEFI program is permanently placed on a memory chip on the motherboard. This means it is maintained even when there is no electricity. The unique operational layer is used to communicate between the firmware and the operating system. UEFI mode can be initialized before the operating system starts up. Some of the main advantages of UEFI include:
- It does not require an active operating system for network functionality
- Better usability through the use of a computer mouse and graphical user interface
- Enhanced security through the Secure Boot feature
- The flexible modular structure that helps it adapt to specific hardware environments and requirement profiles
- The boot manager used to manage the bootloader is different for different operating systems
- Command-line tool for diagnostics and troubleshooting
The purpose of Secure Boot is to increase security. Parts of the UEFI firmware, bootloader, and operating system kernel must be verified before starting. Components are verified using cryptographic digital signatures in the UEFI firmware signature database. The system boot can be aborted if the security check is not successful.
Secure Boot is also commonly used with Hardware components. The Trusted Platform Module (TPM) is a key component of Secure Boot, providing security features for computers. When compared to the legacy BIOS system boot method, the following advantages can be obtained from UEFI and GPT:
- Allows multiple operating systems with their own boot managers to be installed at the same time.
- Boot faster than old BIOS system
- Support pre-boot applications
Currently, NVRAM (non-volatile random access memory) is used for boot-related settings. Settings are saved after the computer is turned off and a small amount of power from the motherboard battery is used.
How Do Bootloaders Work?
After the computer is turned on, information about the installed hardware appears on the screen. The bootloader places its operating system into memory. The basic input/output system (BIOS) performs tests before transferring control to the Master Boot Record (MBR), which contains the boot loader.
Many bootloaders are configured to give the user different boot options. These options include different operating systems, different versions of the same operating system, operating system loading options, and programs that run without an operating system.
In certain cases, the device may have two operating systems. The bootloader can be used on this device to start the correct operating system which the user prefers automatically. The bootloader can also be used to boot the operating system into a secure mode for recovery.
You can use the bootloader to run programs without having to run an operating system. This can be useful with devices such as game consoles. Once the game disc is inserted into the console and the console is turned on, the user is taken directly to the game rather than a welcome screen.
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So what is a bootloader? Simply put the bootloader is a program that is started every time the device is turned on to activate the correct operating system. It is also very important for the maintenance of security and software architecture.
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