ArchLinux Bootsplash Information

Learn more about how to sweeten your boot and shutdown time with animations, high res graphics and progress bars. It's not just available for SuSE, y'know.

Introductionary Blurb

For quite a while now, the so called 'framebuffer' has been implemented in the linux kernel. Basically it's a (mostly) hardware independent API to run high resolution screens, and it's most common benefits are high resolution text consoles to fit more than 80x25 on that screen, a cute Tux logo in your upper left corner during bootup (or any other logo you dare to hack into the appropriate place), and of course the bootsplash support, which hides all the bootup messages your kernel is spitting at you behind a nice high resolution jpeg picture, with optional progress bar and animations.

Probably you already had a look at the official bootsplash page or this fanpage, and were rather miffed at the distinctive lack of comprehensive documentation, which made setting up a working bootsplash an experience close to dancing naked in a minefield with clown-sized shoes. Fear no more, ArchLinux now has packages to take care of the ugly parts, and hopefully useful documentation on how to create your own themes in a breeze, as well as what few steps are left to take to get things rolling.


On to the cool stuff! Since you're using ArchLinux, you just need to add these lines to your /etc/pacman.conf, or put them into an Include file, if you are using a recent pacman version:

Server =

Easy as pie. Re-sync and download all necessary packages with this command:

# pacman -Sy splashutils initscripts-bs kernel26-bs Theme-ArchPool

If you need the SCSI kernel, use kernel26-scsi+bs instead. Both kernel packages are configured exactly like the Arch stock kernels, with the addition of the bootsplash patch only. Because of this, no kernel-dependant packages (like ALSA) seem to break when you use these packages instead of the stock kernels, but this is not guaranteed. If you experience sudden kernel oopses in ALSA or some other kernel-affinitive program, rebuild the culprit with ABS to get it to work with your current kernel symbol table, and you should be fine. However, I didn't experience any issues so far, and last time I wrecked my kernel, crashes were frequent enough to not go unnoticed. ;)


I'm still working on the documentation, so here's quick instructions only:

  1. Download the packages as shown above. Take care of your rc.conf, inittab and rc.local files, as they will be .pacsaved!
  2. The theme package should have placed a symlink named current in the /etc/bootsplash/themes, pointing to it's directory. Make sure it's there and correct, it's absolutely required.
  3. Run
    splash -s -f /etc/bootsplash/themes/current/config/bootsplash-1024x768.config > /boot/initrd.splash
    to create the required initrd, which contains the actual splash picture of the current theme. You may choose a different config file if it's available to run other resolutions; Have a look in the config/ directory of your chosen theme to see if other resolutions are available.
  4. Configure LiLo or GRUB to use the initrd.splash file, either with LILO's append option, or GRUB's initrd option.
  5. While you're at it, add splash=silent to your append option or kernel line to switch into the silent bootup mode. Use splash=verbose or don't add it at all if you still want to see your bootup text messages.
  6. Adding video=vesafb:vram:8 is also a good idea, as it tries to allocate 8 MB video ram, which is needed sometimes to get things running. Increase the value if you get bootsplash errors regarding lack of space. Setting vga=0x317 should switch to 1024x768, 16bit color on bootup, which is a good thing. If you know your machine can't handle that, though, I'd recommend waiting until the extensive docs are up, or try your luck with themes that have config files for lower resolutions.
  7. Did all that? Cool. Reboot your machine, and bask in the warm light of your bootsplash! Hit F2 to display boot messages, in case you use silent mode.

If something goes wrong for you, it helps to have a look at the boot messages output. Either you'll find an error hidden at the beginning in your dmesg, or something pops up during boot. Keep your eyes peeled, and good luck. You probably just forgot a step or didn't manipulate your boot loader correctly. Re-run LILO, for heaven's sake, or get a grip and use GRUB instead! If you want bootsplash, GRUB is your friend.


Theme sources for ArchLinux are kept here.

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