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init command in Linux with examples

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init is parent of all Linux processes with PID or process ID of 1. It is the first process to start when a computer boots up and runs until the system shuts down. init stands for initialization. In simple words the role of init is to create processes from script stored in the file /etc/inittab which is a configuration file which is to be used by initialization system. It is the last step of the kernel boot sequence.

/etc/inittab Specifies the init command control file.
  • init script initializes the service. So, it responsible for initializing the system.
  • Init scripts are also called rc scripts (run command scripts)
  • Init script is also used in UNIX.



Run Levels

Run Levels is the state of init where a group of processes are defined to start at the startup of OS. The process spawned by init for each of this run levels are defined in the file /etc/inittab. Each runlevel has a certain number of services stopped or started. Conventionally seven runlevel exist numbers from zero to six.

Standard Run Levels for Red Hat Based Distribution:


Mode Action
0 Halt Shuts down system
1 Single-User Mode

Does not configure network interfaces, start daemons, 

or allow non-root logins

2 Multi-User Mode Does not configure network interfaces or start daemons.
3 Multi-User Mode with Networking Starts the system normally.
4 Undefined Not used/User-definable
5 X11 As runlevel 3 + display manager(X)
6 Reboot Reboots the system

By default most of the LINUX based system boots to runlevel 3 or runlevel 5. In addition to the standard runlevels, users can modify the preset runlevels or even create new ones according to the requirement. Runlevels 2 and 4 are used for user defined runlevels and runlevel 0 and 6 are used for halting and rebooting the system.


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Last Updated : 26 Aug, 2020
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