Hdt (Hardware Detection Tool)

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The project used to have its own website, now archived.

This document might be partially outdated.

What is HDT ?

HDT (for "Hardware Detection Tool") is a Syslinux com32 module designed to display low-level information for any x86 compatible system. It provides a command line interface and a semi-graphical menu mode for browsing.

HDT can inspect multiple subsystems:

  • CPU (via cpuid)
  • PCI
  • Memory
    • e820 memory map
    • e801 memory map
    • 8800h memory size
  • DMI
    • Memory modules
    • BIOS
    • Motherboard
    • IPMI base board
    • Chassis
    • Batteries
    • CPU
    • System
    • Security
    • System reset
  • Disks (work in progress)
  • Syslinux
  • Linux Kernel modules needed by this host
  • PXE environment
  • VESA
  • ...


Current stable release is 0.3.3 0.5.2.

Current development version is 0.3.4 in the main Syslinux git repository.


HDT is included in the official Syslinux distribution archives.

Projects known to use HDT

  • Mandriva Linux since 2009.1 (no longer active since 2015)
  • Ultimate Boot CD since version 5.0
  • Parted Magic since 0.4.0
  • Recovery Is Possible since 8.0 (no longer active since 2012)
  • Many others

How can I try HDT ?

Since Syslinux 3.74, HDT is available in the Syslinux archive under the "com32/hdt" directory.

HDT is a com32 module that requires syslinux 3.74 or later. As every com32 module, it can be booted as a kernel like:

 KERNEL hdt.c32

Testing using kvm/qemu

Since qemu 0.9.0, it is possible to boot a virtual machine while using a local directory as a local pxe server. This allows a local PXE booting without needing a complete infrastructure (dhcp/tftp).

  • Install kvm/qemu.
  • Setup you environment by creating a local pxe directory like "~/pxe".
  • In this pxe dir, create another directory, named "pxelinux.cfg".
  • Within the "pxelinux.cfg" directory, create the following configuration file named "default":
 KERNEL hdt.c32
  • Copy the "pxelinux.0" (and "ldlinux.c32") file(s) from the Syslinux archive to the "~/pxe" dir.
  • Copy the hdt.c32 file (and the relevant library modules) in the same directory.
  • Create a dummy disk file with
dd if=/dev/zero of=~/pxe/dummy.img bs=1M count=5
  • Start qemu/kvm to use that local configuration:
kvm -hda ~/pxe/dummy.img -net nic -net user -boot n -tftp ~/pxe -bootp /pxelinux.0

Menu mode

The menu mode will try to do some best effort to manage the little space in which we display so much information.

Screenshots taken on HDT 0.2.6.

Main menu:


Cpu mode:


Starting memtest

Under the memory menu, it is possible to start memtest. To make it successful, you have to:

  • Download memtest
  • gunzip it
  • Setup in your current Syslinux configuration file an entry like
LABEL memtest
 LINUX memtest86+-2.11.bin

Make sure to use the keyword "LINUX", not "KERNEL"!

Then, when selecting the memory test from the memory submenu, the "memtest" label will be launched.

The label name could be changed using the "memtest=<label>" boot option of HDT. The default value is set to "memtest".

How do I configure HDT ?

HDT can be configured by APPENDing parameters, as described in the following sections.

pci stuff

HDT requires very little configuration. To improve the PCI reporting, copy "pci.ids" and "modules.pcimap" in a directory. By default, hdt will search for these files in the root dir of the boot device. If you want to override the directory you can use the following parameters:

  • modules_alias=your_path/modules.alias
  • modules_pcimap=your_path/modules.pcimap
  • pciids=your_path/pci.ids
  • memtest=label_name

Optionally, the files can be gzipped.

This can be configured as:

 KERNEL hdt.c32
 APPEND modules_alias=images/modules.alias modules_pcimap=images/modules.pcimap pciids=images/pci.ids memtest=mymemtest

The "pci.ids" file can usually be found in the "/usr/share/" directory of a Linux System or just download it from sf.net.

The "modules.pcimap" file is usually available in the "/lib/modules/`uname -r`/" directory of your Linux system.

Warning! When HDT is used with ISOLINUX, the file name must be in an "8.3" format. So if your file is named "modules.pcimap", then the parameter given to HDT must be: "modules_pcimap=path/to/modules.pci".

If these files are not available, HDT will generate some information messages to warn the user.

The memtest=<label> option allows users to override the default entry name in the current config file of Syslinux. The default value is set to "memtest".

CLI mode

HDT supports two modes: a menu system and a CLI (command line interface). The menu system is enabled by default. To enable the CLI mode, just append "nomenu" at startup time like in:

 KERNEL hdt.c32
 APPEND nomenu

Syntax of the CLI

This syntax may change in the future.

The main menu displays a "hdt> " prompt indicating the top menu.

Other submenus exist: pci, dmi, cpu, kernel, pxe, syslinux. These topics will be discussed later.

The help command shows the available commands:

clear  : obviously, clear the screen
help  : this help ;o)
show  : the command to display items
pci  : to enter the PCI mode
dmi  : to enter the DMI mode
cpu  : to enter the CPU mode
kernel  : to enter the kernel mode
syslinux  : to enter the syslinux mode
vesa  : to enter the vesa mode
exit  : to return to the top menu

Note that it is possible to use "show" in order to obtain a summary of the given mode, like in:

hdt> show pci
PCI: 17 devices detected
PCI: Resolving names
PCI: Resolving class names
PCI Resolving module names
 NB Devices   : 17


hdt> show dmi
DMI Table version 2.3 found
Available DMI modules: base_board bios chassis memory bank<bank_number> cpu system

The "show dmi" command will display the version of the DMI table and the available modules.

Other examples:

hdt> show cpu
 Manufacturer :  Intel
 Product      :  Intel(R) Pentium(R) D CPU 3.00GHz
 Features     :  3000 MhZ : x86_64 64bits SMP
hdt> show pxe
 PCI device no: 15
 Manufacturer : Broadcom Corporation
 Product      : NetXtreme BCM5721 Gigabit Ethernet PCI Express
 Addresses    : @ 00:13:72:3b:ce:85
hdt> show syslinux
 Bootloader : PXElinux
 Version    : PXELINUX 3.74 pre1-110-g37bfb1c
 Version    : 842
 Max API    : 35
 Copyright  : Copyright (C) 1994-2009 H. Peter Anvin
hdt> show kernel
Kernel modules
(intel-rng | iTCO_wdt) # (piix | ata_piix) # i2c-i801 # tg3 # sisfb #
hdt> show vesa
 Vesa version : 3.0
 Vendor       : XGI Technology, Inc.
 Product      : Volari Z7
 Product rev. : 1.02.04
 Software rev.: Y
 Memory (KB)  : 16384
 Modes        : 32


The "show summary" command reports a global summary of the current host:

hdt>show summary
 Manufacturer : Intel
 Product      : Intel(R) Pentium(R) D CPU 3.00GHz
 Features     : 3000 MhZ : x86_64 64bits SMP
 Manufacturer : Dell Computer Corporation
 Product Name : PowerEdge 850
 Serial       : XXXXX
 Version      : A02
 Release      : 10/12/2005
Memory Banks
 bank 00      : 512 MB DDR2@533 MHz
 bank 01      : 512 MB DDR2@533 MHz
 NB Devices   : 17
 PCI device no: 15
 Manufacturer : Broadcom Corporation
 Product      : NetXtreme BCM5721 Gigabit Ethernet PCI Express
 Addresses    : @ 00:13:72:3b:ce:85
Kernel modules
(intel-rng | iTCO_wdt) # (piix | ata_piix) # i2c-i801 # tg3 # sisfb #

PCI mode

From the main menu, type "pci". The prompt changes to "pci> ". The available commands are:

show list

The "show list" command reports the available pci devices like in:

pci> show list
21 PCI devices detected
01: Intel Corporation E7230/3000/3010 Memory Controller Hub
    # Host bridge               # Kmod: unknown

02: Intel Corporation E7230/3000/3010 PCI Express Root Port
    # PCI bridge                # Kmod: unknown
12: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) IDE Controller
    # IDE interface             # Kmod: piix | ata_piix

The first numerical field (01, 02 or 12 in this example) represents the PCI device number followed by the vendor and product names.

The second line displays the device class and the associated kernel module. If no module matches this pci device, the kernel module (Kmod) is reported as unknown. If the device matches one or more kernel modules, the Kmod field shows their name, piix or ata_piix in this example.

show device <number>

The "show device <number>" command reports more detailed information on the selected pci device. Let's see a report for the PCI device number 12 from the previous example:

pci> show device 12
PCI Device 12
Vendor Name   : Intel Corporation
Product Name  : 82801G (ICH7 Family) IDE Controller
Class Name    : IDE interface
Kernel module : piix | ata_piix
Vendor ID     : 8086
Product ID    : 27df
SubVendor ID  : 1028
SubProduct ID : 01b6
Class ID      : 01.01.8a
Revision      : 01
PCI Bus       : 00
PCI Slot      : 31
PCI Func      : 01

The output is pretty obvious, no need to say more about it except about the pxe stuff. If the current device has a running pxe rom, its pxe information will be displayed:

Mac Address   : 00:13:72:3b:ce:85
PXE           : Current boot device

If the device has a valid IRQ, an "IRQ: <irq>" line is displayed.

show irq

HDT can show IRQs set to some PCI devices. Most PCI devices do not really have a legacy IRQ. Only valid IRQs (>0 & <255) are shown.

pci>show irq
17 PCI devices detected
 IRQ : product
 11  : Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB UHCI Controller #1
 05  : Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM5721 Gigabit Ethernet PCI Express
 03  : Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM5721 Gigabit Ethernet PCI Express

DMI mode

Inside the dmi mode, "show list" displays the available modules.

dmi> show list
Available DMI modules: base_board bios chassis memory bank<bank_number> cpu system

Note that only available modules will be displayed by this command. If your system doesn't have a battery, the battery module will not be reported.

To display the content of each module, use "show <module>":

dmi> show system
Manufacturer : Dell Computer Corporation
Product Name : PowerEdge 850
Version      : Not Specified
Serial       : XXXX
Wakeup Type  : Power Switch
SKU Number   :
Family       :

Nothing more to say except about the memory module.

memory display

The "show memory" command will display the status of each memory bank reported by the DMI table.

dmi> show memory
Memory Banks
 bank 00      : 512 MB DDR2@533 MHz
 bank 01      : 512 MB DDR2@533 MHz
 bank 02      : Free DDR2@533 MHz
 bank 03      : Free DDR2@533 MHz

As reported by the command, to have more details of a given memory bank, use "show bank<bank number>".

dmi> show bank1
Memory Bank 1
Form Factor  : DIMM
Type         : DDR2
Type Detail  : Synchronous
Speed        : 533 MHz
Size         : 512 MB
Device Set   : 1
Device Loc.  : DIMM1_B
Bank Locator : Not Specified
Total Width  : 72 bits
Data Width   : 64 bits
Error        : Not Provided
Vendor       : C100000000000000
Serial       : XXXXXXX
Asset Tag    : XXXXXXXXX
Part Number  : XXXXXXXX

IPMI base board display

Since 0.2.6, HDT can detect whether an IPMI BMC is present; if it is, it displays the interface type, the version and its address.

dmi> show ipmi
 Interface Type     : KCS (Keyboard Control Style)
 Specification Ver. : 1.5
 I2C Slave Address  : 0x10
 Nv Storage Address : 0
 Base Address       : 0000000000000CA8
 IRQ                : 0

CPU mode

Inside the CPU mode, use "show cpu" to display the cpu information:

cpu> show cpu
Vendor    : Intel
Model     : Intel(R) Pentium(R) D CPU 3.00GHz
Vendor ID : 0
Family ID : 15
Model  ID : 4
Stepping  : 7
FSB       : 800 MHz
Cur. Speed: 3000 MHz
Max Speed : 3800 MHz
Upgrade   : ZIF Socket
SMP       : yes
x86_64    : yes
Flags     : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca
Flags     : cmov pat pse_36 clflsh dts acpi mmx sse sse2 ss
Flags     : ht acc nx lm

Kernel mode

The kernel mode features the "show list" command that displays, for each hardware category, the needed kernel modules.

kernel> show list
Mass storage controller : piix ata_piix
Network controller : tg3
Display controller : sisfb
Bridge : intel-rng iTCO_wdt
Serial bus controller : i2c-i801

PXE mode

The PXE mode displays information about the pxe environment.

pxe> show list
 PCI device no: 15
 Manufacturer : Broadcom Corporation
 Product      : NetXtreme BCM5721 Gigabit Ethernet PCI Express
 Addresses    : @ 00:13:72:3b:ce:85

Syslinux mode

The Syslinux mode displays the current syslinux versions:

syslinux> show list
 Bootloader : PXElinux
 Version    : PXELINUX 3.72 3.72
 Version    : 840
Max API    : 30
 Copyright  : Copyright (C) 1994-2008 H. Peter Anvin

VESA mode

The vesa mode displays a synthesis of the vesa configuration:

vesa> show list
 Vesa version : 3.0
 Vendor       : XGI Technology, Inc.
 Product      : Volari Z7
 Product rev. : 1.02.04
 Software rev.: Y
 Memory (KB)  : 16384
 Modes        : 32

In this example, the vga card supports 32 video modes. To display them, use "show modes".

Note that "Kernel mode" is the value requested by the "vga=" command line for a linux kernel.

vesa> show modes
 ResX x ResY x Bits : Kernel Mode : Vesa Mode
  800   600      4       770        0x0102
  640   480      8       769        0x0101
  640   400      8       768        0x0100
  800   600      8       771        0x0103
 1024   768      4       772        0x0104
 1024   768      8       773        0x0105
 1280  1024      8       775        0x0107
 1600  1200      8       816        0x0130
 1600  1200     16       817        0x0131
  320   200     15       781        0x010d
  320   200     16       782        0x010e
  640   480     15       784        0x0110
  640   480     16       785        0x0111
  800   600     15       787        0x0113
  800   600     16       788        0x0114
 1024   768     15       790        0x0116
 1024   768     16       791        0x0117
 1280  1024     15       793        0x0119
 1280  1024     16       794        0x011a
  320   240      8       818        0x0132
  400   300      8       819        0x0133
  512   384      8       820        0x0134
  320   240     16       821        0x0135
  400   300     16       822        0x0136
  512   384     16       823        0x0137
  320   200      8       824        0x0138
  640   400     16       825        0x0139
  640   480     32       826        0x013a
  800   600     32       827        0x013b
 1024   768     32       828        0x013c
 1280  1024     32       829        0x013d
 1600  1200     32       830        0x013e


Syslinux 3.74 features HDT 0.2.7.

Syslinux 3.75 features HDT 0.2.7 with a fix to prevent hard lock during pci detection.


Release 0.3.0

Release 0.3.1

Release 0.3.2

Release 0.3.3

Release 0.3.4

  • Fixing int10/13 conflict
  • Improving menu's layout to maximize display usage
  • Adding more external benchmark/diagnose tools (cpu/disks/...)
  • Adding more Fn keys (F1-F12)
  • Memory detection fall-back to dmi type 6 when type 17 isn't available
  • Adding filesystem detection
  • Adding mbr detection (grab info at (older) [1] or (newer) [2] )

Release 0.4.0

  • Adding a saving inventory feature
  • Adding IPMI


The development of HDT is here: http://git.zytor.com/users/erwan/hdt.git

Additional changes could be merged directly into the main Syslinux git repository.

Mailing List

You can subscribe to the mailing list and/or read the archives.


The following ideas represent possible new features for HDT. If users report which ideas they really need, priorities to develop items could change ;o)

Lua Scripting

HDT currently detects hardware and generates an output using a menu or via a CLI. It could be interesting to add lua support to manage scripting. It could be possible to load a file that describes items that the user wants to detect.

Saving reports

Current versions can't save a report as we can't reach a writable storage. When using PXELINUX, we can imagine using a tftp put method. Using GPXELINUX, we can imagine using some http/ftp put methods.

Improving disks detection

Implementing a simple IDE stack would help in detecting PATA & ATAPI devices. Detecting SATA devices would require implementing specific drivers. The Coreboot project features some; why not doing some teaming on that?

Implementing SMART

Once the previous items would be complete, it could be possible to add a smartmontools-like feature to display smart status of devices.

Adding IPMI

IPMI could give HDT more information about the current hardware like sensors, etc... While using the "open" interface, we can reach the local BMC, but sounds as it needs a lot of code.

Adding VPD

Virtual Product Data displays the following: BIOS Build ID, Product Name, Box Serial Number, Motherboard Serial Number, Machine Type/Model.

Detecting Disk's Partitions

Title is pretty obvious ;o)

Adding more benchmark/diagnose tools

For every kind of component, it could be possible to launch a benchmark/diagnose tool. UBCD has many of them; why not trying to load some from both menu and CLI mode.