I've been designing a Linux distro and trying to incorporate a nice user experience into it in the form of pleasing art and an interface that won't confuse or overwhelm first-time Linux users.

The problem I'm working on now is attempting to bring up a loading screen during boot process that either has a progress indicator or a "dummy" progress bar ala Windows XP–just something that moves to ensure the user that the system hasn't forgotten about them–and that the user can escape out of by hitting a certain key. I've already created one and I'm looking for the next step in including it in the distro.

I've already tried:

  • splashy - Doesn't work with the current kernel. At all.

  • MPlayer with -vo directfb via DirectFB - May work in the long run, but DirectFB seems to both produce a garbled image and overload the framebuffer and making the console unresponsive. Plus, it's not as modular as I'd like (how to signal that it's finished loading?).

I'd rather not have to patch the kernel (like the abandoned boosplash project does), as this tends to break horribly when a new kernel version comes out. Also, from what I've seen, kernel-modifying projects tend to be difficult for developers to maintain for that reason, resulting in a high project-abandonment rate.

To get to the point, my question is this: Can you recommend a good bootsplashing utility that can do what I just described?

I'm using Linux and basing the distro on Slackware 13.37.

3 Answers 3


Ubuntu uses Plymouth. It paints a themable splash screen when there isn't anything important to say or questions to ask, but also can show error output, and ask questions, such as "fsck of / found problem xyz, do you want to fix it?", or "enter password to decrypt /".

  • Too complicated... For a framebuffer program it sure does require a lot of X libs. Jul 27, 2011 at 5:28
  • 1
    @amphetamachine that's because it isn't just a framebuffer program; it also can draw the splash screen via the X server to make for a smooth, flicker free shutdown splash.
    – psusi
    Jul 27, 2011 at 14:52

Have you looked at fbsplash?

It is lightweight, and doesn't require X11. Nor does it require kernel patching.

There is a package in the Arch user repository that includes a script for filesystem check progress messages and other features...

  • I can't get it to compile for some reason. I will keep on hacking at it, but it looks like the most likely candidate. Jul 31, 2011 at 14:43
  • Figured it out, wrote some patches, created MNGs. Works great, thanks! Aug 3, 2011 at 6:53

For reference, Buildroot 2018.05 now sports psplash for this kind of thing.

PSplash is a userspace graphical boot splash screen for mainly embedded Linux devices supporting a 16bpp or 32bpp framebuffer. It has few dependencies (just libc), supports basic images and text and handles rotation. Its visual look is configurable by basic source changes.

Also included is a 'client' command utility for sending information to psplash such as boot progress information.

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