[OpenWrt-Devel] [RFC] Boot/Preinit/Init Requirements (for the init/preinit that will be coming)

Daniel Dickinson daniel at cshore.neomailbox.net
Tue Sep 6 07:29:26 CEST 2011

Hi all,

I've been working on the requirements specification for
boot/preinit/init to try to illuminate what preinit/init has to be able
to do to be feature complete compared to the current version, plus the
new features we want to have.  I was originally looking for a way to
reduce what preinit does, but the fundamental limitation of not being
able to have open references on the old rootfs after pivot to new
rootfs, of we want *really* unmount it, means that the rootfs mount
logic must happen before we start doing hotplug and running the
initscripts, and preinit really doesn't do all that much that isn't
directly related to these three:

* failsafe
* mount target rootfs (either remounting root r/w for all_jffs2/ext4,
mounting jffs2 rootfs_data mtd parttion for squashfs, or an external
* start init

If anyone has any great ideas on how to get a rootfs without wasting
space (so not initramfs or kexec as the default) or leaving open
references after pivot (can this be avoided doing mount root in init?),
I'd love to hear them, but while reducing what has to be done in
preinit, I'd love to hear it.

This is article is on the wiki at :

====== Boot/Init Requirements ======

This article attempts to state what the initscripts must and should do
for the new init system being developed for OpenWrt.  The goal is to
deal with the race conditions that currently can occur, without losing
current functionality.

===== Boot/Preinit =====

The Boot process currently consists of the kernel bootstrap (not
discussed here), preinit, and init.  Preinit takes care of things that
init can't function without, while init is responsible for starting up
the rest of the system.

On a Debian desktop system there is an analogue to preinit, which uses
initramfs to bring up the system enough to the point init can operate.
Unfortunately initramfs is not an option on openwrt because it wastes
too much space.  The binaries and scripts in an initramfs cannot be
retained for use in the booted system, unless they are copied to RAM
(tmpfs) (if anyone know otherwise and can point out how, please contact
the devs), which is why preinit exists.

Preinit looks to linux like the final boot stage to init on the
rootfs.  Preinit then mounts the root file system, does ''pivot_root''
to the rootfs, and then use the real init to replace itself.  Basically
it transforms intself into the 'real' init and rootfs.

==== Goals ====

  * Reduce preinit as much as possible so that init does most of the
  * Maintain failsafe ability, so that if mounting, etc, rootfs fails,
    or init makes system inaccessible, that there is a way to get into
    the device and fix it.
  * Not start hotplug at all in preinit ... for that matter no
    processes except the real init should cross the preinit/init
  * Be configurable...it should be possible to configure rootfs mount,
    init start and anything else that can happen after the jffs2 is
    mounted (and therefore a writable config is available)
  * LED and network message functionality should be available to
    switchinit (which runs a script to shutdown process and make some
    other process than the current init PID 1, e.g. for doing a safer
    sysupgrade, and firstboot ('factory reset'))
  * Support /opt type deployments as well as extroot (that is, extra
    packages on /opt rather than by replacing the jffs2 rootfs)
  * No open file descriptors/references on the old rootfs when init is
    executed on the target rootfs (this is why we don't just
    mount/pivot in init).

=== Notes ===

  * JFFS2 Formatting must be done on a fully booted system, because on
    some routers (like the Fon with NOR flash), formatting takes a
    significant amount of time during which the router would be
    unavailable for use).  That means preinit can't be where the
    formatting happens.
  * Ideally the firstboot script will take the router back to state
    exactly like after flashing without configuration saved), including
    the needs for formatting jffs2
  * Restoring the configuration needs to be done after the rootfs is
    mounted, but before most configuration is used (most configuration
    is used in init or init-launched hotplug).
  * Saving the configuration should save the jffs2 (for squashfs)/or
    boot rootfs config not the config on external root.  This is
    because the external root will still be available on the external
    storage after flashing, but the internal (jff2 or other boot
    rootfs) won't.

==== Must-do's ====

  - Allow failsafe
  - If initramfs, do initramfs, skip rest of this list
  - For Squashfs: Mount jffs2 (if already formatted)
  - For External Block: Mount swap (so fsck has enough memory) if
  - For External Block: Mount rootfs (checking first if fsck available)
    or tmpfs (if no rootfs yet)
  - For External Block: Mount marked fses before init (e.g. for
    deployments where /opt contains packages/script that need to run
    early in init)
  - Start init or kexec

==== 0) Before failsafe ====
  * Enable script output to serial before failsafe
  * emit UDP messages with progress of boot, or at the very least
failsafe prompt
  * Network or Serial access 
    * network kernel modules
  * LEDs indicator for hit button
    * kernel modules for gpio and gpio-leds
  * Button (on any button during failsafe window, enter failsafe)
    * kernel module for gpio, gpio-buttons or keys-polled, and
  * Setting LEDs requires sysfs (/sys)
  * OpenWrt LEDs depend on specific hardware as defined
by /proc/cpuinfo, so /proc is needed 
  * Obviously /dev is needed
==== 1) Allow Failsafe ====
  * LED indicator for failsafe mode

=== Configuration at Compile-time not Run-time ===
  * failsafe-related items *must not* rely on changing config, only on
what is available in the flashed image.

==== 2) Mount swap and 3) Mount rootfs ====
  * check if jffs2 formatted
  * if formatted, mount it in a temporary location
  * combine boot rootfs and jffs2 (if present) kernel modules and
swap/rootfs config
  * mount should have /proc
  * requires /dev

=== 2) Mount swap ===
  * load modules needed for swap (if swap configured) (from rootfs or
  * run any swap-related scripts from either boot rootfs or jffs2
  * using swap-utils from either boot rootfs or jffs2 (if present) do
swapon for configured swap
  * needs swap-utils and blkid (for UUID based config) on bootfs or

=== 3) Mount rootfs ===
  * load modules needed for rootfs (from rootfs or jffs2)
  * run any rootfs-related scripts (e.g. for mmc) (e.g. mount usbfs)
  * check filesystem for errors if fsck present on boot rootfs or jffs2
(depends on blkid)
  * mount target rootfs (depends on blkid on boot rootfs or jffs2)
  * pivot_root
  * move any fs mounted on old root to new root

==== 4) Mount marked fses other rootfs ====
  * load modules needed by fses (if not previously loaded)
  * run any associated scripts (.e.g for mmc/usbfs) (if not previously
  * check filesystem for errors if fsck present on rootfs (depends on
  * mount fs (depends on blkid)

==== 5) Start Init or Kexec ====
  * For Init: Configurable PATH and environment variables
  * Either do init or kexec a kernel on the rootfs or other previously
mounted storage

===== Init =====

==== Goals ====

  * Split /etc/init.d into independent chunks

==== Wants ====

  * Support betwork rootfs, perhaps by using switchinit with network
    kept up

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