This challenge is simple. Write code that shows what looks exactly like a complete reboot of the computer. It must not show anything on-screen that shows it is not a full reboot and should end at the log-in screen you would get after rebooting.


  1. You can choose any OS you like to imitate. For example you can reboot into Linux from Windows, Mac from Linux, or any other combination you choose.
  2. The code should display the full reboot full-screen with no signs that it isn't real.
  3. This is a popularity contest so the cooler it looks, the better it is.
  4. The code must be completely harmless, perform no actual rebooting, and be easy to quit at any point.
  5. If you need to use external images to make the reboot look more realistic, then your code should automatically grab them from the web.
  6. Your code should be self-contained, only relying on standard freely available libraries or tools, and must be easily executable by reading the instructions you provide.

As it is a popularity contest, I will award the win to the answer with the highest number of votes on June 1, 2014.

Following a request to narrow the question, here is an additional rule, the system should imitate any version of Windows or the Mint, Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Archlinux or Mageia distributions of Linux or OS X. For extra coolness, you should shut down in one and open in the other.

Interested people may want to look at Pitch dark (Earth Hour remembrance) where a number of ways are suggested for using the full screen even when starting in an xterm.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ As it stands, this question is too broad. By not restricting the system which should be faked it runs into (at least - this list may not be exhaustive) problems: a) with old ROM-based systems which reboot instantly, and can be faked by displaying one image; b) with determining whether or not a fake meets the acceptance criteria when e.g. the computer I'm running it on is multi-head and the faked OS didn't support multi-head (or any heads at all). \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 9, 2014 at 12:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterTaylor I was hoping that answers of type a) would just get low votes and as it is a popularity contest that would be OK. If you could help me refine it to handle point b) I would be very grateful. \$\endgroup\$
    – user9206
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 12:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ The obvious solution to problem b) is to narrow the question by saying that your solution only needs to work under the system it imitates, and by restricting the systems which can be imitated. But even then many attempts are doomed to failure by the variety of BIOSes available for IBM-compatible machines. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 9, 2014 at 15:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterTaylor Thanks. I have greatly narrowed the scope. How is it now? \$\endgroup\$
    – user9206
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 18:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Gah, I almost had a perfect solution for pure ArchLinux (no boot splash, just kernel messages and BIOS). I must say, I never understood the point of wasting CPU cycles at boot just to display some pretty graphics. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 9, 2014 at 20:46

7 Answers 7


zsh + coreutils + unclutter + amixer + xterm (Arch Linux)

I took the answer by @TheDoctor and ran with it. This version has many improvements, and is 99% convincing to an experienced user (me) on my Arch Linux system. I use Zsh since it has good array and floating-point number support.
Dependencies: feh, unclutter, amixer, zsh, xterm


1) Use the number printed in the first column by dmesg, which is the time since boot, (e.g. [ 0.000000] ) to determine the time to sleep. Without this it looks very unrealistic on my machine. These times are parsed before the loop (in an early call to sleep) since parsing inside the loop is too slow.

2) Don't print lines where time since boot is larger than 16 seconds. This specific number is machine-dependent, but the point is to avoid printing later dmesg-stuff that comes from inserting/removing usb sticks, etc. and is unrelated to booting.

3) Do all this in a fullscreen terminal window with black background and white text. Kudos to Mechanical Snail for this trick used in: Make a PNG image with "Hello World!" with programming APIs, in the shortest code possible

4) Mute the audio on shutdown, restore volume when script finishes.

5) Hide the mouse cursor, restore when script finishes.

6) Show BIOS and Syslinux splash screens.

Run with: xterm -fu -fg white -bg black -e '/usr/bin/zsh fake-reboot.sh'


# Remove (undisplay) the mouse pointer
unclutter -idle 0 -jitter 255 &
# Since there is no easily-accessible (i.e. without being root) shutdown log, we
# fake these messages.
echo "The system is going down for maintenance NOW."
sleep 2.0
echo "[21656.404742] systemd[1]: Shutting down."
echo "[21656.404742] systemd[1]: Stopping Session 1 of user `id -u -n`."
echo "[21656.404742] systemd[1]: Stopped Session 1 of user `id -u -n`."
echo "[21656.404742] systemd[1]: Stopping Sound Card."
# For added effect, store volume and then mute sound
volume=`amixer -- sget Master | awk -F'[][]' 'END{print $2}'`
amixer -- sset Master 0% &> /dev/null
echo "[21656.404742] systemd[1]: Stopped target Sound Card."
sleep 0.5
echo "[21656.919792] systemd[1]: Stopping system-systemd\x2dfsck.slice."
echo "[21656.919792] systemd[1]: Removed slice system-systemd\x2dfsck.slice."
echo "[21656.919792] systemd[1]: Stopping system-netctl\x2difplugd.slice."
echo "[21656.919793] systemd[1]: Removed slice system-netctl\x2difplugd.slice."
echo "[21656.919793] systemd[1]: Stopping User Manager for UID `id -u`..."
sleep 0.7
echo "[21657.624741] systemd[1]: Stopping Graphical Interface."
echo "[21657.624742] systemd[1]: Stopped target Graphical Interface."
echo "[21657.624745] systemd[1]: Stopping Multi-User System."
sleep 0.9
echo "[21658.606561] systemd[1]: Stopped target Multi-User System."
echo "[21658.606562] systemd[1]: Stopping Paths."
echo "[21658.606562] systemd[1]: Stopped D-Bus System Message Bus."
echo "[21658.606562] systemd[1]: Stopped target Paths."
echo "[21658.606568] systemd[1]: Stopping Timers."
echo "[21658.606568] systemd[1]: Stopped target Timers."
echo "[21658.606568] systemd[1]: Stopping Sockets."
echo "[21658.606568] systemd[1]: Stopped target Sockets."
echo "[21658.606568] systemd[1]: Starting Shutdown."
echo "[21658.606571] systemd[1]: Reached target Shutdown."
echo "[21658.606571] systemd[1]: Starting Exit the Session..."
echo "[21658.606571] systemd[1]: Received SIGRTMIN+26 from PID 10988 (kill)."
echo "[21658.606571] systemd[1]: Deactivated swap."
sleep 0.4
echo "[21659.001741] systemd[1]: Starting Unmount All Filesystems."
echo "[21659.001742] systemd[1]: Unmounted /home."
echo "[21659.001742] systemd[1]: Reached target Unmount All Filesystems."
echo "[21659.001742] systemd[1]: Stopping Remount Root and Kernel File Systems..."
echo "[21659.001742] systemd[1]: Stopped Remount Root and Kernel File Systems."
echo "[21659.001743] systemd[1]: Reached target Shutdown."
echo "[21659.001743] systemd[1]: Starting Final Step."
echo "[21659.001743] systemd[1]: Reached target Final Step."
echo "[21659.001754] systemd[1]: Shutting down."
sleep 0.3
echo "[21659.304341] systemd-journal[250]: Journal stopped"
sleep 0.2
echo "System halted."
sleep 2
sleep 1
# Get the BIOS splash screen and display it
wget http://pvv.ntnu.no/~asmunder/bios.jpg  &> /dev/null
feh -Z -x -F -N --force-aliasing bios.jpg &
pid=$! # Store PID of Feh, so we can kill it later
# While showing the BIOS splash, use the time to parse dmesg output into arrays
tim=`dmesg | awk '{print $2}' | sed 's/]//' | grep "[0-9][0-9][0-9][0-9][0-9]"`
sleep 2.5
kill $pid
sleep 0.5
# Get the Syslinux splash and display it
wget http://pvv.ntnu.no/~asmunder/syslinux.png  &> /dev/null
feh -Z -x -F -N --force-aliasing syslinux.png &
sleep 1.3
kill $pid
# Loop through the arrays we created. Calculate the time we have to wait before
# displaying this line. If the wait time is less than 0.1 sec, we skip waiting.
for d in $dmsg; do
  ((dT = $T2-$T1))
  if (( $dT > 0.1));then
    sleep $dT
  echo $d
  if (( $T2 > 16.0 )); then
sleep 1
# It's normally agetty that parses /etc/issue and handles escape codes in a 
# special way. Thus we skip the first line of /etc/issue and do that manually.
echo "Arch Linux "`uname -r`" (tty1)"
tail -n +2 /etc/issue 
echo `hostname`" login:"
sleep 10
# Reset the mouse pointer so it is visible again
unclutter -idle 5 -jitter 0 &
# Reset the audio volume
amixer -- sset Master $volume &> /dev/null
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ This is really good and by far the most impressive one I have been able to test so far. \$\endgroup\$
    – user9206
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 19:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ very nice, much boot screen \$\endgroup\$
    – Claudiu
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 20:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Haha, you linked my own question! But that is very good code there. I'm going to try it. \$\endgroup\$
    – figgyc
    Commented May 26, 2014 at 8:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ cat /etc/issue | tail -n +2 : useless use of cat. tail -n +2 /etc/issue is simpler, especially when there's no pipeline. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 25, 2018 at 16:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good point. Fixed it, and fixed the broken links. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 7:04

Commodore 64

2?"    **** COMMODORE 64 BASIC V2 ****"

The BASIC intepreter will display the READY. prompt automatically.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I'd suggest changing line 1 to: 1 POKE 53280,6:POKE 53281,14:?CHR$(159):?CHR$(147) ...to make sure the colors are correct. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 20:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for bringing a tear to my eye, even though it doesn't meet the rules. \$\endgroup\$
    – ClickRick
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 20:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can save some bytes by excluding the closing quotation mark on the print statements - i.e., 4?" 64K RAM SYSTEM 38911 BASIC BYTES FREE - this is also very slightly more performant but you'll only notice over much bigger and more complex BASIC programs \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 13:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ You may save further bytes by using the character control symbols, like ?"{CLEAR}" which appears as a reversed heart symbol. You can also reduce the number of lines, this could be done in two lines, possibly one if you use CBM PRG Studio, or write this onto a C128 and then load it into C64 mode. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 16:48


  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ On my Ti-83 Plus it shows "Done", dunno if this breaks the rules... \$\endgroup\$
    – Joshua
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 12:38
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ To avoid the "Done" you should add an extra line with a single quote. \$\endgroup\$
    – Timtech
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 23:18
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This does not simulate a reboot. If you just press 2ND+ON and then ON again, you only put the device into standby and waking it up shows (in most cases) the screen that you had when you put it into a standby. A real reboot is harder to do. There are ways to do it without removing the battery, but that's the easiest one. So what you see after changing the batteries is what the program should simulate. That's harder, but also possible in TI-Basic. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 14:00

Bash + Coreutils (Linux)

echo "The system is going down for maintenance NOW."
sleep 5
dmesg|while read i; do echo "$i"; sleep 0.1; done
cat /etc/issue
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is good if run from a virtual terminal. Is there some way to make it full screen if it is started in an xterm? I suppose at that point you are basically implementing a screensaver. \$\endgroup\$
    – user9206
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 13:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Lembik xterm -fullscreen? \$\endgroup\$
    – user16402
    Commented May 10, 2014 at 8:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @professorfish As in codegolf.stackexchange.com/questions/26697/… \$\endgroup\$
    – user9206
    Commented May 10, 2014 at 10:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Tried it on Mac; doesn't work. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jwosty
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 3:23
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Jwosty On OS X (Mavericks, 10.9) you need to have super user privileges, so replace dmesg with sudo dmesg. Futhermore /etc/issue does not exist on OS X. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 11, 2014 at 8:15

Windows 8

Shoddy attempt, I can't figure out how to auto full screen. I tried.

<!DOCTYPE html>

<iframe width="1600" height="900" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/VgQ87b7muWs?start=510&end=524&autoplay=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> 


Python / Pygame OSX

import pygame, time, os, urllib # Import Modules
pygame.init() # Initalise Pygame
pygame.mouse.set_visible(0) # Hide the Cursor
stdscr = pygame.display.set_mode((1280,800),pygame.FULLSCREEN) # Set up the display
stdscr.fill((255,255,255)) # Fill the screen white
urllib.urlretrieve("http://harrybeadle.github.io/FakeRestart/apple.bmp", "apple.bmp") # Get Apple Logo
urllib.urlretrieve("http://harrybeadle.github.io/FakeRestart/startup.wav", "startup.wav") # Get Startup Sound
time.sleep(1) # Wait for 1 second, screen still black
applelogo = pygame.image.load('apple.bmp').convert() # Load the Logo
pygame.mixer.music.load('startup.wav') # Load the Bung
stdscr.blit(applelogo,(580, 340)) # Blit the logo
pygame.mixer.music.play(1) # Play the sound
pygame.display.flip() # Flip the buffers
time.sleep(5) # Wait 5 seconds
pygame.quit() # Quit the pygame window
os.remove('apple.bmp') # Delete logo
os.remove('startup.wav') # Delete bung
os.system('/System/Library/CoreServices/"Menu Extras"/User.menu/Contents/Resources/CGSession -suspend') # Lock the Mac

Now Updated!


  • Blank Screen
  • White Screen w/ Apple Logo and Bung Sound
  • Assets downloaded from GitHub using urlib
  • Locks the user's Mac preserving any work using a terminal command and os.system()
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice. Minor nitpick - the rules say: "If you need to use external images to make the reboot look more realistic then your code should grab those automatically from the web." \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 12, 2014 at 11:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @semi-extrinsic Looked into it, it's more bother than it's worth, I had to edit the image anyway and Pygame is not friendly with any filetype that isn't a Windows Bitmap, so I think I leave it as it is for now. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 12, 2014 at 14:17
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @semi-extrinsic Scrap my previous comment, functionality added. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 12, 2014 at 14:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ This only shows the apple logo full screen for a few seconds. It definitely needs the "Bung" :) \$\endgroup\$
    – user9206
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 8:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Lembik I've added that now, along with moving the assets to GitHub for reliability :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 19, 2014 at 17:17

This one does linux with parameters "quiet" and "init=/bin/sh"

echo shutting down
sleep 1
echo Press F12 to enter setup. #everyone forgets the BIOS
sleep 1
  • \$\begingroup\$ usually systems either show a image or console output. and not everyone's bios is on f12 :P \$\endgroup\$
    – masterX244
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 17:22
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @masterX244 - the image is a configurable build option in linux. with quiet there is no kernel ouput and with init=/bin/sh there is no startup output because the init is to simply start a shell. You should try it sometime and see exactly what is needed to start X. with devtmfs+automount enabled I can get to X in < 0.2sec with a 1-liner. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 12, 2014 at 17:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ ahh, not a common config thats why i commented \$\endgroup\$
    – masterX244
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 17:51