Nishanth Explains: What is the bootloader?

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It’s almost Halloween and it’s time for some scary stuff so I thought it would be a good idea to get some of the scary and nitty, gritty details about Windows Mobile. Corniness aside, the bootloader on any device is something that you shouldn’t mess with unless you are making some amazing mod for the rest of the world or you are flashing a custom ROM image to your phone. It’s what your device uses to start up all the systems and drivers needed for your device to function properly, similar to BIOS or EFI in your computer. If you mess it up, you’re in some deep trouble, especially as the bootloader needs to load even to revert your changes.

On Windows Mobile, the bootloader is split up into two parts, the Initial Partition Loader (IPL) and the Secondary Partition Loader (SPL). When you power on your device, the IPL kicks in and starts up the kernel called nk.exe and starts up all the necessary device drivers for the device to work in the XIP (eXecute In Place) partition of a device. The IPL then hands off to the SPL which loads up the Windows Mobile OS at the time that you see the Windows Mobile splash screen on your device. That’s it in a nutshell, actually. There is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes especially in the IPL of the device you probably not interested in deciphering. ;D

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