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These scripts are intended to be used with initramfs-tools, which is a similar software product to dracut (which is used in Red Hat based distributions), and is mainly used by Debian GNU/Linux and derivatives.

These scripts share some common functionality with the SysV init scripts, primarily the /etc/zfs/zfs-functions script.


Root pool/filesystem

Different distributions have their own standard on what to specify on the kernel command line to boot off a ZFS filesystem.

This script supports the following kernel command line argument combinations (in this order - first match wins):

If a pool is specified, it will be used. Otherwise, in AUTO mode, all pools will be searched. Pools may be excluded from the search by listing them in ZFS_POOL_EXCEPTIONS in /etc/default/zfs.

Pools will be imported as follows:

This order may be modified by setting ZPOOL_IMPORT_PATH in /etc/default/zfs.

If a dataset is specified, it will be used as the root filesystem. Otherwise, this script will attempt to find a root filesystem automatically (in the specified pool or all pools, as described above).

Filesystems below the root filesystem will be automatically mounted with no additional configuration necessary. For example, if the root filesystem is rpool/ROOT/rootfs, rpool/root/rootfs/var, rpool/root/rootfs/usr, etc. will be mounted (if they exist).


The <dataset> can be a snapshot. In this case, the snapshot will be cloned and the clone used as the root filesystem. Note:

Extra options

The following kernel command line arguments are supported:

Unlocking a ZFS encrypted root over SSH

To use this feature:

  1. Install the dropbear-initramfs package. You may wish to uninstall the cryptsetup-initramfs package to avoid warnings.
  2. Add your SSH key(s) to /etc/dropbear-initramfs/authorized_keys. Note that Dropbear does not support ed25519 keys; use RSA (2048-bit or more) instead.
  3. Rebuild the initramfs with your keys: update-initramfs -u
  4. During the system boot, login via SSH and run: zfsunlock