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HP-UX 11i Version 3: February 2007

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system — system description configuration files


The HP-UX system description file describes kernel configuration information used by the kconfig and mk_kernel commands.

The system description file consists of the following information:

  • A line specifying the version of the system file.

  • The list of packaged and traditional kernel modules to be configured.

  • Planned values for system tunable parameters, and other system-wide configuration information.

Lines starting with an asterisk (*) are comment lines. HP discourages adding comments to the system description file, since they are not preserved by kernel configuration commands. See kconfig(5) for details.

HP-UX System Description File

System files may contain a line specifying which version of the system file syntax was used when writing the file. If present, this line must be the first non-comment line of the system description file. This is the only line in the system description file that must occupy a particular position. All other lines are position independent. This line has the following format:

  • version version

  • where the following values for version are allowed:


    The system file is formatted as described in this manual page.


    The system file is formatted in the fashion used in HP-UX 11i Version 1.6 and prior. This value is the default if no version line appears in the system file.

New system files should always be created using version 1 of the system file syntax. Support for version 0 will be removed in a future HP-UX release.

System files that are generated by the kernel configuration commands will contain a line indicating which configuration is being described. This line has the form:

  • configuration name title timestamp



    is the name of the configuration,


    is the title of the configuration (in quotes), and


    indicates the time at which the system file was generated.

System files may contain lines that list the traditional and packaged kernel modules (including device drivers and pseudo-drivers) that are to be configured.

Each such line has one of the following two formats:


where module is either a traditional or packaged kernel module name.

For example, scsi selects the driver for SCSI disk drives, scsitape selects the driver for SCSI tape drives, and nfs selects the NFS subsystem. This line format is for backward compatibility. It does not allow specification of the state of the module; the module state will be the default state as given by the module's developer. To specify the desired state of the module, use the second format.

module module state [version]

where module is either a traditional or packaged kernel module name. state is one of best, static, auto or loaded; see kcmodule(1M) for definitions of these states.

version is version of the module. The version field is optional. It should generally be omitted when manually editing or creating system files. It is used by kconfig -e and kconfig -i when cloning kernel configurations; see kconfig(1M) for details.

For example,

module scsi static 1.0.[3E0D0C96]

selects the driver for SCSI disk drives.

module pseudodrv loaded 1.0.[3E0D0C96]

dynamically loads the module pseudodrv.

System files may also contain lines that are used to:

  • define the swap device

  • define the dump device(s)

  • provide an explicit binding a driver to a hardware path

  • define status and values of selected system parameters.

Lines are constructed as indicated below for each category.

  • Swap Device Specification

    This method of swap specification will be obsoleted in future releases. swapctl() is the preferred method for configuring swap.

    No more than one swap specification is allowed. If swap specification is not given, then primary swap binding is set to Default. On a system using the Logical Volume Manager (LVM), Default is equivalent to lvol. On other systems, the Default is to page to the root disk, in the area between the end of the root file system and the end of the disk.

    swap hw_path offset [blocks]

    Configure the swap device location and its size as specified. Arguments are interpreted as follows:


    The hardware path representing the device to configure as the swap device or the string default may be used to indicate using the root device.


    The swap area location. Boundaries are located at 1K-byte intervals. A negative value specifies that a file system is expected on the device. At boot-up, the super block is read to determine the exact size of the file system, and this value is put in offset. If the swap device is auto-configured, this is the mechanism used. If the super block is invalid, the entry will be skipped so that a corrupted super block will not later cause the entire file system to be corrupted by configuring the swap area on top of it. A positive or zero value for offset specifies the minimum area that must be reserved. Zero means to reserve no area at the head of the device. A zero value implies that there is no file system on the device.


    The number (in decimal) of 1K-byte disk blocks in the swap area. For this swap device specification, only the blocks parameter is optional. Zero is the default for auto-configuration. If blocks is zero, the entire remainder of the device is automatically configured in as swap area. If blocks is non-zero, its absolute value is treated as an upper bound for the size of the swap area. Then, if the swap area size has actually been cut back, the sign of blocks determines whether blocks remains as is, resulting in the swap area being adjacent to the reserved area, or whether blocks is bumped by the size of the unused area, resulting in the swap area being adjacent to the tail of the device.

    swap lvol

    Configure swap on a logical volume.

    swap none

    Configure the kernel with no swap device.

  • Dump Device Specifications

    One or more dump specifications are allowed. If a dump specification is not given, then the primary swap area will be used.

    dump hw_path

    Configure the dump device location and its size as specified. hw_path is the hardware path representing the device to configure as a dump device or the string default may be used to indicate using the primary swap area.

    dump lvol

    Configure dump on a logical volume.

    dump none

    Configure the kernel with no dump device.

  • Explicit Device Driver Bindings

    One or more driver to hardware path specifications is allowed. If a driver statement is provided, the specified software module is forced into the kernel I/O system at the given hardware path. This can be used to make the system recognize a device that could not be recognized automatically.

    driver hw_path driver_name

    Bind the driver into the kernel I/O system at the given hardware path. Arguments are interpreted as follows:


    The hardware path representing the device to bind the software with.


    The name of the software module to bind into the kernel at the specified hardware path.

  • Kernel Tunable Parameter Settings

    These lines contain the values (other than default) of kernel tunable parameters that will be used for the kernel configuration. A tunable value can be either a number or a formula, but it cannot contain whitespace. If the tunable is user defined, then parameter_name is preceded by the keyword user:. No whitespace is permitted between user: and parameter_name. Each line has the following form:

    [tunable] [user:]parameter_name value

Modular System File

Modular system files have been removed from the HP-UX configuration paradigm. All the required information from modular system files have been merged into the traditional system file itself thus creating a single hpux system description file.


The swap, dump, and driver lines are obsolete and will be removed in a future version of HP-UX. Swap devices, dump devices, and driver bindings should be configured using the swapon, crashconf, and iobind commands, respectively.



HP-UX system description file for the nextboot kernel configuration


HP-UX system description file for the kernel configuration named config

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