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(also, bootstrap loader)

Bootloader definition

A bootloader, also known as a boot manager or bootstrap loader, is a specialized program or software component that initializes the operating system (OS) loading when a computer system is switched on. Its primary role is to manage and execute the correct sequence of operations to ensure the OS boots correctly.

See also: end-to-end encryption, BIOS rootkit

Bootloader examples

  • BIOS/UEFI: These are primary examples of bootloaders in most computers. The BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) or UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) starts the bootloader, which then loads the OS into the computer’s memory.
  • GRUB: GNU GRand Unified Bootloader is a common bootloader for Linux systems. It can manage multiple operating systems on a single device.
  • Android bootloader: For Android devices, the bootloader instructs the system to boot into either the recovery mode or the normal operating mode.

Pros and cons of bootloaders


  • Flexibility: Bootloaders allow users to select from multiple operating systems installed on a single device.
  • Recovery: They provide an avenue for system recovery in case of OS failure.


  • Complexity: Modifying or replacing a bootloader can be a complex process, often requiring advanced technical knowledge.
  • Security risks: An incorrectly configured or compromised bootloader can pose significant security risks, such as rootkit attacks.

Using bootloaders

  • Ensure that the bootloader and your device’s firmware are updated to the latest version to protect against potential security vulnerabilities.
  • Be cautious when modifying a bootloader because incorrect changes can render a device unbootable.

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