I am running a web server under Debian and I currently have GRUB installed.

Should I consider using LILO instead of GRUB? And what are the advantages of each?


5 Answers 5


LILO has a simpler interface and is easier to wrap your head around.

GRUB is more featured and handles odd configurations better.

The LILO bootstrap process involves locating the kernel by in essence (it's more complicated than this) pointing to the first logical-sector of the Kernel file. The GRUB bootstrap process is more filesystem aware and can locate a kernel file in a filesystem without having to specify a logical-sector.

There is a reason nearly everyone is using GRUB these days, and that's because it's less fragile and handles edge-cases better.

  • 3
    Slackware still uses LILO, at least as of version 13.1. Slackware is noted for its robustness, and Patrick Volkerding is noted for not upgrading to obtain buzzword compliance.
    – user732
    Jan 26, 2011 at 19:14
  • 4
    Slackware is also why I know LILO so well. Jan 26, 2011 at 19:40

As explained here:

LILO has no interactive command interface, whereas GRUB does.

LILO does not support booting from a network, whereas GRUB does.

LILO stores information regarding the location of the operating systems it can to load physically on the MBR. If you change your LILO config file, you have to rewrite the LILO stage one boot loader to the MBR. Compared with GRUB, this is a much more risky option since a misconfigured MBR could leave the system unbootable. With GRUB, if the configuration file is configured incorrectly, it will simply default to the GRUB command-line interface.

LILO only loads linux and other boot loaders. and GRUB loads a large number of OS's.

LILO works by loading itself into a space that will fit on the MBR. Grub has two stages (because it's too overcomplicated to work as well, err I mean as easily as lilo). It loads stage 1 off the MBR (usually) and stage 2 out of /boot, along with its config.


I guess main advantage (for me) of GRUB are

  • I don't have to remember to run 'lilo' after kernel update. GRUB have real support for filesystems so it can find kernel on disk.
  • Commandline. GRUB allows to enter commandline which tends to be handy if I mess with configuration. Sometimes it saves live.

Main advantages of LILO:

  • Support any filesystem as it workarounds this concept
  • It is small

I'd say that in 99% of cases you prefer GRUB.


You should use GRUB, or probably GRUB2 as it is much newer. Grub advantages over LILO include support for larger disks (you don't have to have your boot partition in the beginning of disk) and support for EFI boot.

If you are using old computer with working LILO, there is no specific reason to upgrade to GRUB.

Another reason: there is no updates for LILO, and practically no support. Or even a website.

  • 2
    Actually ELILO is the EFI support for LILO. It exists. And unlike straight up LILO, gets updates. Jan 26, 2011 at 18:43

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