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By default to boot image bzImage of a Linux kernel you need to use the bootloader. If you try to boot the image directly it will give the error:

Booting from Hard Disk...
Direct booting from floppy is no longer supported.
Please use a boot loader program instead.
Remove disk and press any key to reboot . . .

In the older versions of Linux it was possible with:

make zImage

Is it possible to boot without a bootloader in the newer versions of the kernel? If so, how?

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Off topic, but: just go back to an older version of Linux. –  Ernest Friedman-Hill Apr 22 '12 at 11:20
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migrated from stackoverflow.com Apr 22 '12 at 19:06

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2 Answers

It's not possible. At least, not with the not-so-old kernels unpatched.

You have these options:

  1. use a bootloader.
  2. use an old version of linux.
  3. hack direct booting (ie a built-in bootloader) into the kernel source so it works more-or-less like floppy booting in the old days.
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If you have an EFI based system, starting with Linux kernel 3.3 the firmware can directly load and execute the kernel.

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