First of all, you must learn what is and how to use BOOT_ADMIN on your PA-RISC box, before thinking about doing anything with it.

BOOT_ADMIN is a firmware application, used to manage a PA-RISC machine at an early boot stage, i.e. when the box has not yet started its Operating System. It is also known as the Boot Console Handler (BCH). Those familiar with the x86 world will probably see it as a kind of BIOS, whilst PPC fans might think of it as an equivalent for Open Firmware.

We named it BOOT_ADMIN throughout this document since it is the name it is the most common prompt it will display on most PA-RISC machines. You will see through this HOWTO that there are many references to it, therefore it's worth saying that minimalistic BOOT_ADMIN skills are mandatory!

2.1.1. Entering the BOOT_ADMIN interface

Entering the BOOT_ADMIN management tool isn't that awful:

  1. Turn your PA-RISC box on.

  2. During the boot process, the following message will appear on the current console (see Section 2.2):
Searching for Potential Boot Devices.
    To terminate search, press and hold the ESCAPE key.
    When this message is displayed, press and hold the Esc key until an option menu appears. This can take a while, be patient. On recent machines, pressing any key interrupts the boot process as well.

  3. By default, you should enter the BOOT_ADMIN console. Though on some 715s and 725s, an option menu looking like this may be shown:
b)    Boot from specified device
    s)    Search for bootable devices
    a)    Enter Boot Administration mode
    x)    Exit and continue boot sequence
    ?)    Help
    Select from menu:
    Type 'a' and hit Enter to enter Boot Administration mode. This will bring up a 'BOOT_ADMIN>' prompt.

Once you have the 'BOOT_ADMIN>' prompt, you can pat yourself on the back: you are in BOOT_ADMIN mode!

As it has been said before, the prompt can differ between machines. On recent ones, for instance, it looks like that:

Main Menu: Enter command or menu >

2.1.2. BOOT_ADMIN commands

BOOT_ADMIN is an early boot subsystem (a Boot Console Handler, as said before) where you can execute a limited set of commands. You should find here everything you need to know about them.

All HP-PA systems have a BCH. The display can be different but the idea remains the same. That's why the following list is not complete but consistent enough. Another important thing is that for each command, you have a shorter way to invoke it. You can see the shortcut shown as uppercase letters in the command name. Full names will be used in this section.


Be cautious when dealing with the BCH, you can harm your system.


Some commands may appear in several different menus, and all commands listed here may not necessarily be available on your particular system, this is normal. The main commands

These commands are the basic ones.

  • boot may be followed by an argument which indicates the path you want to boot. The path should be the definition of a device like for example FWSCSI.6.0 or PRI if you have set this variable correctly. Usually defaults to PRI.

  • path displays or sets the current paths. Invoked with only one argument it will display the current path of the entity passed as argument: path alt will display the current alternative boot path. path pri fwscsi.6.0 will setup the primary boot path as the device attached to Fast and Wide SCSI controller with ID 6 and LUN 0. You can also set and display the paths of console (graphics/serial) and keyboard (ps2/hil/usb).

  • search is a very useful command. It automagically checks all possible boot devices and displays these bootable paths. In several firmware versions, it links them to a shortcut (like P0). It can even search the LAN, if the box is able to boot it. Some firmware revisions allow you to restrain the search path like: search lan or search disk.

  • display redisplays the current menu.

  • help gives you an overview of the available commands and their action. help name will give you details on command name. By default, you can list all main commands by typing help main.

  • main will bring you back to the main menu, whatever menu you might be currently browsing.

  • On almost every systems, there is a reset instruction. It restarts the machine with the latest parameters you have set. The configuration commands

These commands are available in the configuration menu. So, in order to use them, you must enter this menu by typing configuration at the 'BOOT_ADMIN>' prompt.

  • auto will tell you if the box will automatically start booting when switched on, or will do a search for boot devices, depending on the first argument passed to the command (boot, search, start). You can modify this parameter with the keywords ON and OFF.

  • default sets back the factory defaults.

  • monitor (only in graphic console) sets your display configuration by typing monitor <path> <type> which indicates your console path and type. You can list the available modes by typing monitor list.

  • fastboot displays or sets the boot tests execution. The information commands

They give you access to global information about your system. Going into this menu is done by asking for information.

  • all should display everything.

  • bootinfo lists all the boot parameters of the system.

  • fwrversion gives your firmware revision. You can check if your firmware is up-to-date at this webpage.

  • lanaddress shows the MAC (Ethernet) address of the system. On some boxes (especially 712s), two different addresses may appear. The one you are looking for is the first. The service commands


It is a PA-RISC guru menu.

You will find nothing really interesting for an end-user here. We recommend you not to play with it unless you really know what you are doing.