SUSE Has Been Working On An In-Kernel Boot Splash Screen For Linux
Written by Michael Larabel in SUSE on 25 October 2017 at 12:00 PM EDT. 38 Comments
SUSE --
While Plymouth has become widely-used as a bootsplash screen on most Linux systems these days and is much better off than the RHGB days, SUSE has sent out initial patches as part of their proposal for having a new in-kernel bootsplash system.

SUSE developers are working on an in-kernel bootsplash system rather than Plymouth or other alternatives that run in user-space. By having this bootsplash screen run within the kernel and off the top of the FBCON frame-buffer console, they hope this new system will work earlier in the boot process and also be more reliable. It's also then possible to completely hide the kernel's text output and VT, which may please some embedded Linux system vendors.

The patches in their initial form for this new kernel "bootsplash" shows a blank screen but can be adapted to a show a distribution's logo, Tux, or the like. The patches reaffirm their design goals of allowing the kernel output to be quieter when desired like on embedded systems or digital signage, showing a graphic rather than text if the GUI system were to crash, avoid possible race conditions with the VT API when the other bootsplash programs run from user-space, cleaner mode-switching from FB to KMS mode-setting, and simplified user-space integration.

When CONFIG_BOOTSPLASH is set as a kernel Kconfig switch, it will hijack the frame-buffer console output to draw the splash screen instead. There is also the command line option of bootsplash.enable=1. This in-kernel bootsplash system does have basic animation support as well by simply rendering a series of "blobs" by the kernel. There is also support for reading pictures from a file.

The proposal and big patch series can be found for now on the kernel mailing list. SUSE's Max Staudt laid out the proposal just a short time ago with no responses yet, so it's not yet clear if there's enough interest and a path for this in-kernel bootsplash system to ultimately be accepted in the upstream kernel.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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