The rEFInd Boot Manager:
Configuring the Boot Manager

by Roderick W. Smith, rodsmith@rodsbooks.com

Originally written: 3/14/2012; last Web page update: 4/20/2014, referencing rEFInd 0.7.9

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This page is part of the documentation for the rEFInd boot manager. If a Web search has brought you here, you may want to start at the main page.


Many casual users will be able to use rEFInd without making changes to its settings; in its default configuration, the boot manager automatically detects all the EFI boot loader programs you have on your ESP (or your OS X boot partition, in the case of Macs) and displays icons for them. On Macs, rEFInd also presents legacy BIOS boot options by default. Sometimes, though, you may want to tweak rEFInd's configuration. Sometimes you can obtain your desired results by adjusting the filenames of your boot loaders. Other times, you can edit rEFInd's configuration file, refind.conf, which resides in the same directory as its binary file (refind_x64.efi or whatever you've renamed it).

Broadly speaking, rEFInd's configuration file is broken down into two sections: global options and OS stanzas. The global options section sets options that apply globally—to set the timeout period, enable graphics or text mode, and so on. OS stanzas are optional, but if present, they enable you to add new boot options or replace the auto-detected options with customized ones. Both sections include configuration lines and comment lines, the latter being denoted by a leading hash mark (#). rEFInd ignores comment lines, so you can add explanatory text. The default configuration file includes numerous comments explaining each of the options.

Hiding and Displaying EFI Boot Loaders

Before delving into the configuration file, you should be aware of what you can do by renaming files. By default, rEFInd scans all the filesystems it can read for boot loaders. It scans most of the subdirectories of the EFI directory on every filesystem it can access for files with names that end in .efi. (rEFInd gives special treatment to the tools subdirectory, where it looks for system tools rather than boot loaders.)

If you're like me, you may sometimes want to hide a boot loader from rEFInd's menu for a brief period—say, because you're testing a variety of configurations but you don't want them all to clutter the menu at once. You might also want to hide a boot loader if you want to override its default settings using a custom entry in refind.conf and you don't want an automatic search to duplicate that entry. You can easily hide a boot loader by removing or changing its .efi filename extension—for instance, changing grub.efi to grub.

Another way to hide a boot loader is to move it into rEFInd's own directory. In order to keep rEFInd from showing up in its own menu, it ignores boot loaders in its own directory. This obviously includes the rEFInd binary file itself, but also anything else you might store there.

Setting OS Icons

In addition to hiding boot loaders, you can adjust their icons. You can do this in any of six ways for auto-detected boot loaders:

As a special case, rEFInd assigns icons to the Windows and OS X boot loaders based on their conventional locations, so they get suitable icons even if they don't follow these rules.

In addition to the main OS tag icon, you can set the badge icon for a volume by creating a file called .VolumeBadge.icns or .VolumeBadge.png in the root directory of a partition. If present, it replaces the disk-type icons that are overlaid on the main OS icon. If you use this feature, the badge is applied to all the boot loaders read from the disk, not just those stored in the root directory or the Apple boot loader location. You could use this feature to set a custom badge for different specific disks or to help differentiate multiple OS X installations on one computer. If you don't want any badges, you can replace the three badge icons in the rEFInd icons subdirectory (vol_external.icns, vol_internal.icns, and vol_optical.icns) with a completely transparent badge. The transparent.icns file in the rEFInd icons directory may be used for this purpose.

The default icon sizes are 128x128 pixels for OS icons, 48x48 pixels for the second-row tools, and 32x32 pixels for badges. You can change the sizes of the big OS icons and the small tool icons with the big_icon_size and small_icon_size tokens in refind.conf, as noted in Table 1. The size of the disk-type badges is 1/4 the size of OS icons.

Adjusting the Global Configuration

You can adjust many of rEFInd's options by editing its configuration file. This file is called refind.conf by default; but you can use another filename by passing -c filename as an option, as in refind_x64.efi -c myrefind.conf to use myrefind.conf in rEFInd's main directory. You can specify a configuration file in another directory, but to do so, you must use backslashes as directory separators, as in -c \EFI\other\refind.conf. This feature is intended for users who want to have rEFInd appear in its own menu, with the version launched in this way behaving differently from the original—for instance, to have a secondary rEFInd that provides boot options hidden by the main one. In this scenario, the default refind.conf would have a manual boot stanza defining the new rEFInd instance, including its -c option.

You can use any text editor you like to edit refind.conf, but be sure it saves the file in plain ASCII text, not in a word processing format. (In theory, a UTF-16 encoding should also work, but this has been poorly tested.) Note that the EFI shell includes its own editor. If you need to make a change before you launch an OS, you can launch a shell, change to the rEFInd directory, and type edit refind.conf to edit the file. This EFI editor is quite primitive, but it gets the job done. After editing, you'll need to reboot or re-launch rEFInd for rEFInd to read the changed configuration file.

Global configuration file options consist of a name token followed by one or more parameters, as in:

timeout 20

This example's name token is timeout and its parameter is 20. The net effect of this line is to set the timeout period to 20 seconds—rEFInd will wait 20 seconds before launching the default boot loader. Some options can take multiple parameters. These may be separated by commas, spaces, or tabs. The global options are summarized in the Table 1.

Table 1: Global options in refind.conf
Token Possible parameters Explanation
timeout numeric value Sets the timeout period in seconds. If 0, the timeout is disabled—rEFInd waits indefinitely for user input.
screensaver numeric value Sets the number of seconds of inactivity before the screen blanks to prevent burn-in. The display returns after most keypresses (unfortunately, not including modifiers such as Shift, Control, Alt, or Option). The default is 0, which disables this feature. Setting this token to -1 causes a blank display until the timeout value passes or you press a key.
hideui banner, label, singleuser, safemode, hwtest, arrows, hints, editor, or all Removes the specified user interface features. banner removes the banner graphic or background image, label removes the text description of each tag and the countdown timer, singleuser removes the single-user option from the OS X sub-menu, safemode removes the option to boot to safe mode from the OS X sub-menu, hwtest removes the Macintosh hardware test option, arrows removes the arrows to the right or left of the OS tags when rEFInd finds too many OSes to display simultaneously, hints removes the brief description of what basic keypresses do, editor disables the options editor, and all removes all of these options. You can specify multiple parameters with this option. The default is to set none of these values.
icons_dir directory name Specifies a directory in which custom icons may be found. This directory should contain files with the same names as the files in the standard icons directory. The directory name is specified relative to the directory in which the rEFInd binary resides. The standard icons directory is searched if an icon can't be found in the one specified by icons_dir, so you can use this location to redefine just some icons.
banner filename Specifies a custom banner file to replace the rEFInd banner image. The file should be a BMP or PNG image with a color depth of 24, 8, 4, or 1 bits. The file path is relative to the directory where the rEFInd binary is stored.
banner_scale noscale or fillscreen Tells rEFInd whether to display banner images pixel-for-pixel (noscale) or to scale banner images to fill the screen (fillscreen). The former is the default.
big_icon_size numeric value (at least 32) Sets the size of big icons (those used for OSes on the first row). All icons are square, so only one value is specified. If icon files don't contain images of the specified size, the available images are scaled to this size. The disk-type badge size is set indirectly by this token; badges are 1/4 the size of big icons. The default value is 128.
small_icon_size numeric value (at least 32) Sets the size of small icons (those used for tools on the second row). All icons are square, so only one value is specified. If icon files don't contain images of the specified size, the available images are scaled to this size. The default value is 128.
selection_big filename Specifies a graphics file that can be used to highlight the OS selection icons. This should be a 144x144 image in BMP format, stored in rEFInd's main directory.
selection_small filename Like selection_big, this sets an alternate highlight graphic, but for the smaller utility tags on the second row. This should be a 64x64 image in BMP format, stored in rEFInd's main directory.
showtools shell, memtest, gdisk, gptsync, apple_recovery, mok_tool, about, exit, shutdown, reboot, and firmware Specifies which tool tags to display on the second row. shell launches an EFI shell, memtest (or memtest86) launches the Memtest86 program, gdisk launches the partitioning tool of the same name, gptsync launches a tool that creates a hybrid MBR, apple_recovery boots the OS X Recovery HD, windows_recovery boots a Windows recovery tool, mok_tool launches a tool to manage Machine Owner Keys (MOKs) on systems with Secure Boot active, about displays information about the program, exit terminates rEFInd, shutdown shuts down the computer (or reboots it, on some UEFI PCs), reboot reboots the computer, and firmware reboots the computer into the computer's own setup utility. The tags appear in the order in which you specify them. The default is shell, memtest, gdisk, apple_recovery, mok_tool, about, shutdown, reboot, firmware. Note that the shell, memtest, apple_recovery, and mok_tool options all require the presence of programs not included with rEFInd. The gptsync option requires use of a like-named program which, although it ships with rEFInd 0.6.9 and later, is not installed by default except under OS X. See the "Installing Additional Components" section of the Installing rEFInd page for pointers to the shell, Memtest86, and gptsync programs. The apple_recovery option will appear only if you've got an Apple Recovery HD partition (which has a boot loader called com.apple.recovery.boot/boot.efi). The firmware option works only on computers that support this option; on other computers, the option is quietly ignored. See the Secure Boot page for information on Secure Boot and MOK management.
font font (PNG) filename You can change the font that rEFInd uses in graphics mode by specifying the font file with this token. The font file should exist in rEFInd's main directory and must be a PNG-format graphics file holding glyphs for all the characters between ASCII 32 (space) through 126 (tilde, ~), plus a glyph used for all characters outside of this range. See the Theming rEFInd page for more details.
textonly none or 0 rEFInd defaults to a graphical mode; however, if you prefer to do without the flashy graphics, you can run it in text mode by including this option. Passing any option but 0 causes text mode to be used; passing a 0 causes graphics mode to be used. (This could be useful if you want to override a text-mode setting in an included secondary configuration file.)
textmode text mode number Sets the text-mode video resolution to be used in conjunction with textonly or for the line editor and program-launch screens. This option takes a single-digit code. Mode 0 is guaranteed to be present and should be 80x25. Mode 1 is supposed to be either invalid or 80x50, but some systems use this number for something else. Higher values are system-specific. Mode 1024 is a rEFInd-specific code that means to not set any mode at all; rEFInd instead uses whatever mode was set when it launched. If you set this option to an invalid value, rEFInd pauses during startup to tell you of that fact. Note that setting textmode can sometimes force your graphics-mode resolution to a higher value than you specify in resolution. On Linux, the /sys/class/graphics/fb0/modes file holds available modes, but it may not be the same set of modes that EFI provides.
resolution one or two integer values Sets the video resolution used by rEFInd; takes either a width and a height or a single UEFI video mode number as options. For instance, resolution 1024 768 sets the resolution to 1024x768. On UEFI systems, resolution 1 sets video mode 1, the resolution of which varies from system to system. If you set a resolution that doesn't work on a UEFI-based system, rEFInd displays a message along with a list of valid modes. On an system built around EFI 1.x (such as a Mac), setting an incorrect resolution fails silently; you'll get the system's default resolution. You'll also get the system's default resolution if you set both resolution values to 0 or if you pass anything but two numbers. (Note that passing a resolution with an x, as in 1024x768, will be interpreted as one option and so will cause the default resolution to be used.) If you get a higher resolution than you request, try commenting out or changing the textmode value, since it can force the system to use a higher graphics resolution than you specify with resolution. Also, be aware that it is possible to set a valid resolution for your video card that's invalid for your monitor. If you do this, your monitor will go blank until you've booted an OS that resets the video mode.
use_graphics_for osx, linux, elilo, grub, and windows Ordinarily, rEFInd clears the screen and displays basic boot information when launching any OS but Mac OS X. For OS X, the default behavior is to clear the screen to the default background color and display no information. You can specify the simpler Mac-style behavior by specifying the OSes or boot loaders you want to work this way with this option. (OSes that should use text-mode displays should be omitted from this list.) Note that this option doesn't affect what the boot loader does; it may display graphics, text, or nothing at all. Thus, the effect of this option is likely to last for just a fraction of a second. On at least one firmware (used on some Gigabyte boards), setting use_graphics_for linux is required to avoid a system hang when launching Linux via its EFI stub loader. To add to the default list, specify + as the first option, as in use_graphics_for + windows.
scan_driver_dirs directory path(s) Scans the specified directory or directories for EFI driver files. If rEFInd discovers .efi files in those directories, they're loaded and activated as drivers. This option sets directories to scan in addition to the drivers and drivers_arch subdirectories of the rEFInd installation directory, which are always scanned, if present.
scanfor internal, external, optical, hdbios, biosexternal, cd, and manual Tells rEFInd what methods to use to locate boot loaders. The internal, external, and optical parameters tell rEFInd to scan for EFI boot loaders on internal, external, and optical (CD, DVD, and Blu-ray) devices, respectively. The hdbios, biosexternal, and cd parameters are similar, but scan for BIOS boot loaders. (Note that the BIOS options scan more thoroughly and actively on Macs than on UEFI-based PCs; for the latter, only options in the firmware's boot list are scanned, as described on the Using rEFInd page.) The manual parameter tells rEFInd to scan the configuration file for manual settings. You can specify multiple parameters to have the program scan for multiple boot loader types. When you do so, the order determines the order in which the boot loaders appear in the menu. The default is internal, external, optical, manual on most systems, but internal, hdbios, external, biosexternal, optical, cd, manual on Macs.
scan_delay numeric (integer) value Imposes a delay before rEFInd scans for disk devices. Ordinarily this is not necessary, but on some systems, some disks (particularly external drives and optical discs) can take a few seconds to become available. If some of your disks don't appear when rEFInd starts but they do appear when you press the Esc key to re-scan, try uncommenting this option and setting it to a modest value, such as 2, 5, or even 10. The default is 0.
also_scan_dirs directory path(s) Adds the specified directory or directories to the directory list that rEFInd scans for EFI boot loaders when scanfor includes the internal, external, or optical options. Directories are specified relative to the filesystem's root directory. You may precede a directory path with a volume name and colon, as in somevol:/extra/path, to restrict the extra scan to a single volume. A volume number, preceded by fs, can be used for volumes that lack names, as in fs1:/extra/path. If you don't specify a volume name or number, this option is applied to all the filesystems that rEFInd scans. If a specified directory doesn't exist, rEFInd ignores it (no error results). The default value is boot, which is useful for locating Linux kernels when you have an EFI driver for your Linux root (/) filesystem. To add to, rather than replace, the default value, specify + as the first item in the list, as in also_scan_dirs +,loaders.
dont_scan_volumes or don't_scan_volumes filesystem label(s) Adds the specified volume or volumes to a volume "blacklist"—these filesystems are not scanned for EFI boot loaders. This may be useful to keep unwanted EFI boot entries, such as for a Macintosh recovery partition, from appearing on the main list of boot loaders. The default value is "Recovery HD", LRS_ESP, to keep the Mac OS X and Lenovo Windows recovery volumes from appearing. (These should get their own tools icon instead—see the showtools token.) Note that on a Macintosh with whole-disk encryption, you may need to uncomment this token and leave "Recovery HD" off the list to boot the system.
dont_scan_dirs or don't_scan_dirs directory path(s) Adds the specified directory or directories to a directory "blacklist"—these directories are not scanned for boot loaders. You may optionally precede a directory path with a volume name and a colon to limit the blacklist to that volume; otherwise all volumes are affected. For instance, EFI/BOOT prevents scanning the EFI/BOOT directory on all volumes, whereas ESP:EFI/BOOT blocks scans of EFI/BOOT on the volume called ESP but not on other volumes. You can use a filesystem number, as in fs0, in place of a volume name. This token may be useful to keep duplicate boot loaders out of the menu; or to keep drivers or utilities out of the boot menu, if you've stored them in a subdirectory of EFI. This option takes precedence over also_scan_dirs; if a directory appears in both lists, it will not be scanned. To add directories to the default list rather than replace the list, specify + as the first option, as in dont_scan_dirs + EFI/dontscan.
dont_scan_files or don't_scan_files filename(s) Adds the specified filename or filenames to a filename "blacklist"—these files are not included as boot loader options even if they're found on the disk. This is useful to exclude support programs (such as shim.efi and MokManager.efi) and drivers from your OS list. The default value is shim.efi, shim-fedora.efi, shimx64.efi, PreLoader.efi, TextMode.efi, ebounce.efi, GraphicsConsole.efi, MokManager.efi, HashTool.efi, HashTool-signed.efi. You can add a pathname and even a volume specification, as in ESP:/EFI/BOOT/backup.efi, /boot/vmlinuz-bad, to block the boot loaders only in those specified locations. To add files to the default list rather than replace the list, specify + as the first option, as in dont_scan_files + badloader.efi.
windows_recovery_files filename(s) Adds the specified filename or filenames to list that will be recognized as Windows recovery tools and presented as such on the second row, if windows_recovery is among the options to showtools. The filename must include a complete path and may optionally include a filesystem label, as in LRS_EFI:\EFI\Microsoft\Boot\LrsBootmgr.efi. Whatever you specify here is added to the dont_scan_files list. The default value is EFI\Microsoft\Boot\LrsBootmgr.efi. If you specify + as the first option, the following options will be added to the default rather than replace it.
scan_all_linux_kernels none or 0 When set, causes rEFInd to add Linux kernels (files with names that begin with vmlinuz or bzImage) to the list of EFI boot loaders, even if they lack .efi filename extensions. This simplifies use of rEFInd on most Linux distributions, which usually provide kernels with EFI stub loader support but don't give those kernels names that end in .efi. Of course, the kernels must still be stored on a filesystem that rEFInd can read, and in a directory that it scans. (Drivers and the also_scan_dirs options can help with those issues.) As of version 0.5.0, this option is enabled in the default configuration file. The program default remains to not scan for such kernels, though, so you can delete or uncomment this option to keep them from appearing in your boot menu. Passing any option but 0 causes scans for all kernels to occur; passing a 0 causes these kernels to not be scanned. (This could be useful if you want to override a setting of scan_all_linux_kernels in an included secondary configuration file.)
max_tags numeric (integer) value Limits the number of tags that rEFInd will display at one time. If rEFInd discovers more loaders than this value, they're shown in a scrolling list. The default value is 0, which imposes no limit.
default_selection a substring of a boot loader's title, or a numeric position; optionally followed by two times in HH:MM format Sets the default boot OS based on the loader's title, which appears in the main menu beneath the icons when you select the loader. You can enter any substring of the title as the default_selection, so long as it's two or more characters in length. It's best to use a unique substring, since rEFInd stops searching when it finds the first match. Because rEFInd sorts entries within a directory in descending order by file modification time, if you specify a directory (or volume name, for loaders in a partition's root directory) as the default_selection, the most recent loader in that directory will be the default. One-character entries are matched against the first character of the title, except for digits, which refer to the numeric order of the boot loader entries. If you specify a comma-delimited list of names in quotation marks, rEFInd will search on these in turn until it finds a match. For instance, default_selection "alpha,beta" will launch alpha if it's available, and beta if alpha is not available but beta is. You may optionally follow the match string by two times, in 24-hour format, in which case the entry applies only between those two times. For instance, default_selection Safety 1:30 2:30 boots the entry called Safety by default between the hours of 1:30 and 2:30. These times are specified in whatever format the motherboard clock uses (local time or UTC). If the first value is larger than the second, as in 23:00 1:00, it is interpreted as crossing midnight—11:00 PM to 1:00 AM in this example. The last default_selection setting takes precedence over preceding ones if the time value matches. Thus, you can set a main default_selection without a time specification and then set one or more others to override the main setting at specific times.
include filename Includes the specified file into the current configuration file. Essentially, the included file replaces the include line, so positioning of this token is important if the included file includes options that contradict those in the main file. The included file must reside in the same directory as the rEFInd binary and the main configuration file. This option is valid only in the main configuration file; included files may not include third-tier configuration files.

Prior to version 0.2.4, rEFInd supported a token called disable, whose function partially overlapped with hideui. Version 0.2.4 merges many of the features of these two tokens into hideui and creates the new showtools option, which provides the remaining functionality in a more flexible way.

As an example of rEFInd configuration, consider the following refind.conf file:

# Sample refind.conf file
timeout 5
banner custom.bmp
scan_driver_dirs drivers,EFI/tools/drivers
scanfor manual,external,optical
default_selection elilo

This example sets a timeout of 5 seconds; loads a custom graphic file called custom.bmp from the directory in which the rEFInd binary resides; scans the drivers and EFI/tools/drivers directories for EFI drivers; uses manual boot loader configuration but also scans for external EFI boot loaders and EFI boot loaders on optical discs; and sets the default boot loader to the first loader found that includes the string elilo. Of course, since this file specifies use of manual boot loader configuration, it's not complete; you'll need to add at least one OS stanza to be able to boot from anything but an external disk or optical drive, as described shortly.

Creating OS Stanzas

OS stanzas in rEFInd are similar to those in GRUB Legacy, GRUB 2, or ELILO. You can use them to add configuration options to those that are auto-detected. You cannot modify the auto-detected options, though; if you just want to tweak one OS's configuration, you have several options, none of which is ideal:

Each OS stanza begins with the keyword menuentry, a name for the entry, and an open curly brace ({). Subsequent lines constitute the bulk of the stanza, which concludes with a line containing nothing but a close curly brace (}). Table 2 summarizes the keywords that you can include in a stanza.

Table 2: OS stanza definitions in refind.conf
Token Possible parameters Explanation
menuentry name for the entry Sets the name that's displayed along with the icon for this entry. If the name should contain a space, it must be enclosed in quotes. Following the name, an open curly brace ({) ends the menuentry line.
volume filesystem label Sets the volume that's used for subsequent file accesses (by icon and loader, and by implication by initrd if loader follows volume). You pass this token a filesystem's label or a volume number. A filesystem label is typically displayed under the volume's icon in file managers and that rEFInd displays on its menu at the end of the boot prompt string. If this label isn't unique, the first volume with the specified label is used. The matching is nominally case-insensitive, but on some EFIs it's case-sensitive. If a filesystem has no label, you can use a volume number followed by a colon, such as 0: to refer to the first filesystem or 1: to refer to the second. The assignment of numbers is arbitrary and may not be consistent across boots, though. It might change if you insert an optical disc or plug in a USB flash drive, for instance. If this option is not set, the volume defaults to the one from which rEFInd launched.
loader filename Sets the filename for the boot loader. You may use either Unix-style slashes (/) or Windows/EFI-style backslashes (\) to separate directory elements. In either case, the references are to files on the ESP from which rEFInd launched or to the one identified by a preceding volume token. The filename is specified as a path relative to the root of the filesystem, so if the file is in a directory, you must include its complete path, as in \EFI\myloader\loader.efi. This option should normally be the first in the body of an OS stanza; if it's not, some other options may be ignored. An exception is if you want to boot a loader from a volume other than the one on which rEFInd resides, in which case volume should precede loader.
initrd filename Sets the filename for a Linux kernel's initial RAM disk (initrd). This option is useful only when booting a Linux kernel that includes an EFI stub loader, which enables you to boot a kernel without the benefit of a separate boot loader. When booted in this way, though, you must normally pass an initrd filename to the boot loader. You must specify the complete EFI path to the initrd file with this option, as in initrd EFI/linux/initrd-3.3.0-rc7.img. You'll also have to use the options line to pass the Linux root filesystem, and perhaps other options (as in options "root=/dev/sda4 ro"). The initial RAM disk file must reside on the same volume as the kernel.
icon filename Sets the filename for an icon for the menu. If you omit this item, a default icon will be used, based on rEFInd's auto-detection algorithms. The filename should be a complete path from the root of the current directory, not relative to the default icons subdirectory or the one set via icons_dir.
ostype MacOS, Linux, ELILO, Windows, XOM Determines the options that are available on a sub-menu obtained by pressing the Insert key with an OS selected in the main menu. If you omit this option, rEFInd selects options using an auto-detection algorithm. Note that this option is case-sensitive.
graphics on or off Enables or disables a graphical boot mode. This option has an effect only on Macintoshes; UEFI PCs seem to be unaffected by it.
options options passed to the boot loader Pass arbitrary options to your boot loader with this line. Note that if the option string should contain spaces (as it often should) or characters that should not be modified by rEFInd's option parser (such as slashes or commas), it must be enclosed in quotes. If you must include quotes in an option, you can double them up, as in my_opt=""with quotes"", which passes my_opt="with quotes" as an option.
disabled none Disable an entry. This is often easier than commenting out an entire entry if you want to temporarily disable it.
submenuentry submenu entry name and tokens This keyword identifies a submenu entry, as described in more detail shortly.

As an example, consider the following entries:

menuentry "Ubuntu Linux" {
    loader /EFI/ubuntu/grubx64.efi
    disabled
}

menuentry Gentoo {
    icon \EFI\refind\icons\os_gentoo.icns
    volume G_KERNELS
    loader \kernels\bzImage-3.3.0-rc7
    initrd \kernels\initrd-3.3.0-rc7.img
    options "root=/dev/sda3 ro"
}

menuentry "Windows via shell script" {
    icon \EFI\refind\icons\os_win.icns
    loader \EFI\tools\shell.efi
    options "fs0:\EFI\tools\launch_windows.nsh"
}

This example sets up three entries: one for Ubuntu Linux, one for Gentoo Linux, and one to launch a shell script. Note that the first two entries use different directory separators, simply to demonstrate the fact that it's possible. The Ubuntu entry sets no icon, since rEFInd will note that the boot loader is stored in the ubuntu directory, and it will automatically find the appropriate Ubuntu icon (os_ubuntu.icns). This option is, however, disabled, so no matching icon will appear when you reboot unless you first comment out or delete the disabled line.

The Gentoo entry begins with an icon specification to be sure that the icon is loaded from the same volume as rEFInd. (If the icon were stored on the same filesystem as the kernel, you'd place the icon line after the volume line.) This entry uses the volume token to tell rEFInd to load the kernel and initial RAM disk file from the filesystem called G_KERNELS. It passes the filename for an initial RAM disk using the initrd line and free-form options using the options line. Note that the kernel filename does not include a .efi extension, which keeps rEFInd from picking up the kernel file in its auto-scans.

The Windows via shell script entry may seem puzzling, but its purpose is to launch an OS (Windows in this case) after performing additional pre-boot initialization, which is handled by an EFI shell script. This works because you can pass the name of a shell script to an EFI shell—the script is named on the stanza's options line, using EFI file notation. The shell script, in turn, does whatever it needs to do and then launches the OS's boot loader:

mm 0003003E 8 -pci
fs0:\EFI\Microsoft\Boot\bootmgfw.efi

This example writes data to the computer's PCI bus via the EFI shell's mm command and then launches Windows. Chances are you won't need to engage in such operations, and I do not recommend you try this exact example unless you know what you're doing! This command was required to activate the video hardware on a computer of a person with whom I corresponded prior to booting Windows, but such needs are rare. Another example of a similar approach can be found in this forum thread. A few pointers on finding addresses for your hardware can be found in this post.

You can combine these OS stanzas with the global refind.conf options presented earlier. The result would contain just two entries on the rEFInd boot menu (for Gentoo and Windows, since the Ubuntu entry is disabled), unless rEFInd found other boot options on an external or optical disk.

Creating Submenu Entries

As described on the Using rEFInd page, rEFInd can present a menu of options for certain loader tags when you press the Insert, F2, or + key. rEFInd does this automatically when it detects Mac OS X or ELILO boot loaders, or when you set the OS type via the ostype option. The Mac OS X boot loader, in particular, accepts various options that you can use to boot in various ways.

Sometimes, you might want to create your own custom submenu entries, and rEFInd 0.2.1 and later enable you to do this. To create a custom submenu, you use the submenuentry keyword inside a menuentry stanza. Normally, you'll set the submenu definitions after you've set the main menu options, since the submenu options take the main menu options as defult, and so the main options must be set first. Like a menuentry stanza, a submenuentry definition begins with the keyword, the name of the item, and an open curly brace ({). It continues until a close curly brace (}). A submenu definition can use the keywords described in Table 3. Except as otherwise noted, using an option of a given name completely overrides the setting in the main stanza.

Table 3: Submenu keywords in refind.conf
Token Possible parameters Explanation
submenuentry name for the entry Sets the name that's displayed for this entry on the submenu page. If the name should contain a space, it must be enclosed in quotes. Following the name, an open curly brace ({) ends the submenuentry line.
loader filename Sets the filename for the boot loader, as described in Table 2. Note that the loader is read from whatever filesystem is specified by the main stanza's volume option, provided that option precedes the submenu definition.
initrd filename Sets the filename for a Linux kernel's initial RAM disk (initrd), as described in Table 2. If you want to eliminate the initrd specification, you should use this keyword alone, with no options. You might do this because your main entry is for a Linux kernel with EFI stub support and this submenu entry launches ELILO, which sets the initrd in its own configuration file.
graphics on or off Enables or disables a graphical boot mode, as described in Table 2.
options options passed to the boot loader Pass arbitrary options to your boot loader with this line, as described in Table 2. As with initrd, you can eliminate all options by passing this keyword alone on a line.
add_options options passed to the boot loader This token works just like options, except that instead of replacing the default options, it causes the specified options to be added to those specified in the main stanza listing's options line.
disabled none Disable a submenu entry. This is often easier than commenting out an entire entry if you want to temporarily disable it.

The following menu entry illustrates the use of submenu entries. This is a variant of the second entry presented earlier:

menuentry Gentoo {
    loader \EFI\linux\bzImage-3.3.0-rc7
    initrd \EFI\linux\initrd-3.3.0-rc7.img
    options "root=/dev/sda3 ro"
    icon \EFI\refind\icons\os_gentoo.icns
    submenuentry "single-user mode" {
        add_options "single"
    }
    submenuentry "3.3.0 final release kernel" {
        loader \EFI\linux\bzImage-3.3.0
        initrd \EFI\linux\initrd-3.3.0.img
    }
    submenuentry "boot via ELILO" {
        loader \EFI\elilo\elilo.efi
	initrd
	options
    }
}

The main menu item for this entry won't look different with the submenus defined than without them; but if you press the Insert key, you'll see the submenu items:


Manually defining submenus enables you to customize
    your boot options.

The main menu item appears at the top of the list—Run bzImage-3.3.0-rc7 in this example. The three submenus defined in this example's configuration file appear next, enabling you to launch in single-user mode, run the 3.3.0 release kernel, or boot via ELILO, respectively. Submenus also include an item called Return to Main Menu that does just as it says. (Alternatively, you can return to the main menu by pressing the Esc key.)

This example illustrates some of the things you can do with submenu entries:


copyright © 2012–2014 by Roderick W. Smith

This document is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (FDL), version 1.3.

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