init – The init process is the parent of all Linux processes

The init command is the first process that starts when a Linux system boots up. It is responsible for initializing the system and starting all other processes. The init process is the parent of all other processes on the system, meaning that all processes are descendants of the init process.


The init process is started automatically by the Linux kernel during system boot. It reads the /etc/inittab file to determine the default runlevel for the system and starts all processes associated with that runlevel. The runlevel determines which services and daemons are started on the system.

To view the current runlevel of your system, you can use the runlevel command:

$ runlevel
N 5

In this example, the current runlevel is 5.

To change the runlevel of your system, you can use the telinit command followed by the runlevel number. For example, to change to runlevel 3, you would use:

$ sudo telinit 3

This will stop all processes associated with the current runlevel and start all processes associated with runlevel 3.


The init command does not have any options. However, the telinit command has the following options:

Option Description
0 Halt the system
1 Single user mode
2 Multi-user mode without networking
3 Multi-user mode with networking
4 Not used/user-definable
5 Multi-user mode with networking and GUI
6 Reboot the system

Troubleshooting tips

One common issue with the init process is when it fails to start or becomes unresponsive. In this case, the system may become unresponsive or fail to boot. To troubleshoot this issue, you can try the following steps:

  1. Check the /var/log/messages file for any error messages related to the init process.
  2. Try restarting the system and see if the issue persists.
  3. If the issue persists, boot the system into single user mode and try to manually start the init process.


The init process has been replaced by systemd on many modern Linux distributions. However, the init process is still used on some older systems and may be useful for troubleshooting or understanding how the Linux boot process works.