Description of problem:
The boot process depends on the existence of the /initrd directory. If this
directory is missing, the kernel panics and booting fails. For various reasons,
this directory was missing from some systems and they were stuck with an
unbootable system (see bug 54945 and bug 79982). This bug bit me yesterday.
The design seems fragile to me, and several ideas occurred to me that would
strengthen the system design.
1. The responsibility for creating /initrd is with the filesystem package,
however each kernel requires it. The kernel RPMs could verify the existence of
the directory. Yes, I know this breaks the RPM package encapsulation, but that
/initrd cannot be put into each kernel's RPM is, in my opinion, a design flaw
in RPM itself, since the kernel is the only module that uses this directory. I
digress. Anyway, I suggest putting it into each kernel's RPM because in
diagnosing my system's boot problem I thought to verify each kernel's
installation but not the (in my opinion more obscure) filesystem package.
2. Add a hint to the kernel diagnostics so that before it calls pivot_root, it
checks for the existence of /initrd, complains if it is not present, and
suggests that it be created. The current hint, "Kernel panic: no init found. Try
passing init= option to kernel." is misleading.
3. My favorite: if /initrd is missing, the kernel creates it. A missing
/initrd directory serves no purpose except to block booting, and who wants that?
Just create the directory and get on with the boot. (If the directory is created
on demand, it can be deleted later because its continued presence really doesn
't add value.
Version-Release number of selected component (if applicable):
kernels 2.4.20-9, 2.4.20-13.9, 2.4.20-18.9 (and probably others)
*** Bug 97174 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
I changed this from enhancement to bug.
After getting burned by this one, I described the problem and fix on my web
site. Several people contacted me to express their appreciate for my description
because they were burned by the same problem and were at their wits end. This is
the only information on my modest web site that encourages people to write to
me, so I figured, the enhancement classification is incorrect and really had to
upgraded to something more severe.
Thanks for the bug report. However, Red Hat no longer maintains this version of
the product. Please upgrade to the latest version and open a new bug if the problem
The Fedora Legacy project (http://fedoralegacy.org/) maintains some older releases,
and if you believe this bug is interesting to them, please report the problem in
the bug tracker at: http://bugzilla.fedora.us/
This issue actually exists for the RHEL 3 AS software.
Probably worth fixing it, as this product is still very much in use and is
supported for a few more year.