= B =
[techspeak; from `by one's bootstraps'] To
load and initialize the operating system on a machine. This usage
is no longer jargon (having passed into techspeak) but has given
rise to some derivatives that are still jargon.
The derivative `reboot' implies that the machine hasn't been down
for long, or that the boot is a bounce (sense 4) intended to
clear some state of wedgitude. This is sometimes used of
human thought processes, as in the following exchange: "You've
lost me." "OK, reboot. Here's the theory...."
This term is also found in the variants `cold boot' (from
power-off condition) and `warm boot' (with the CPU and all
devices already powered up, as after a hardware reset or software
Another variant: `soft boot', reinitialization of only part of a
system, under control of other software still running: "If
you're running the mess-dos emulator, control-alt-insert will
cause a soft-boot of the emulator, while leaving the rest of the
Opposed to this there is `hard boot', which connotes hostility
towards or frustration with the machine being booted: "I'll have
to hard-boot this losing Sun." "I recommend booting it
hard." One often hard-boots by performing a power cycle.
Historical note: this term derives from `bootstrap loader', a short
program that was read in from cards or paper tape, or toggled in
from the front panel switches. This program was always very short
(great efforts were expended on making it short in order to
minimize the labor and chance of error involved in toggling it in),
but was just smart enough to read in a slightly more complex
program (usually from a card or paper tape reader), to which it
handed control; this program in turn was smart enough to read the
application or operating system from a magnetic tape drive or disk
drive. Thus, in successive steps, the computer `pulled itself up
by its bootstraps' to a useful operating state. Nowadays the
bootstrap is usually found in ROM or EPROM, and reads the first
stage in from a fixed location on the disk, called the `boot
block'. When this program gains control, it is powerful enough to
load the actual OS and hand control over to it.
--Jargon File, autonoded by rescdsk.