<operating system> The magnetic disk (usually a hard disk) from which an operating system kernel is loaded (or "bootstrapped"). This second phase in system start-up is performed by a simple bootstrap loader program held in ROM, possibly configured by data stored in some form of writable non-volatile storage.
MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows can be configured (in the BIOS) to try to boot off either floppy disk or hard disk, in either order. By default they first check for the presence of a floppy disk in the drive at start-up and try to use that as a boot disk if present. If no disk is in the drive they then try to boot off the hard disk.
Some operating systems, notably SunOS and Solaris, can be configured to boot from a network rather than from disk. Such a system can thus run as a diskless workstation.
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Nearby terms: Booster « boot « boot block « boot disk » booting » BOOTP » bootstrap