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nixpkgs/nixos/doc/manual/administration/boot-problems.xml

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<section xmlns="http://docbook.org/ns/docbook"
xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink"
xmlns:xi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XInclude"
version="5.0"
xml:id="sec-boot-problems">
<title>Boot Problems</title>
<para>
If NixOS fails to boot, there are a number of kernel command line parameters
that may help you to identify or fix the issue. You can add these parameters
in the GRUB boot menu by pressing “e” to modify the selected boot entry
and editing the line starting with <literal>linux</literal>. The following
are some useful kernel command line parameters that are recognised by the
NixOS boot scripts or by systemd:
<variablelist>
<varlistentry>
<term>
<literal>boot.shell_on_fail</literal>
</term>
<listitem>
<para>
Start a root shell if something goes wrong in stage 1 of the boot process
(the initial ramdisk). This is disabled by default because there is no
authentication for the root shell.
</para>
</listitem>
</varlistentry>
<varlistentry>
<term>
<literal>boot.debug1</literal>
</term>
<listitem>
<para>
Start an interactive shell in stage 1 before anything useful has been
done. That is, no modules have been loaded and no file systems have been
mounted, except for <filename>/proc</filename> and
<filename>/sys</filename>.
</para>
</listitem>
</varlistentry>
<varlistentry>
<term>
<literal>boot.trace</literal>
</term>
<listitem>
<para>
Print every shell command executed by the stage 1 and 2 boot scripts.
</para>
</listitem>
</varlistentry>
<varlistentry>
<term>
<literal>single</literal>
</term>
<listitem>
<para>
Boot into rescue mode (a.k.a. single user mode). This will cause systemd
to start nothing but the unit <literal>rescue.target</literal>, which
runs <command>sulogin</command> to prompt for the root password and start
a root login shell. Exiting the shell causes the system to continue with
the normal boot process.
</para>
</listitem>
</varlistentry>
<varlistentry>
<term>
<literal>systemd.log_level=debug systemd.log_target=console</literal>
</term>
<listitem>
<para>
Make systemd very verbose and send log messages to the console instead of
the journal.
</para>
</listitem>
</varlistentry>
</variablelist>
For more parameters recognised by systemd, see <citerefentry>
<refentrytitle>systemd</refentrytitle>
<manvolnum>1</manvolnum></citerefentry>.
</para>
<para>
If no login prompts or X11 login screens appear (e.g. due to hanging
dependencies), you can press Alt+ArrowUp. If you’re lucky, this will start
rescue mode (described above). (Also note that since most units have a
90-second timeout before systemd gives up on them, the
<command>agetty</command> login prompts should appear eventually unless
something is very wrong.)
</para>
</section>