I focus on RedHat, Slackware, Ubuntu (Debian) and Arch Linux. Below are some resources for further information.
Redhat - RHL 9 boot - shutdown process
Slackware Boot Process
Debian Boot Process
Basic overview of SystemV vs BSD Systems
IBM developer works book - Linux Boot Process
Gentoo Handbook for x86
- It's hard to specify one chapter because Gentoo's documentation is top notch and very informative. Review the installation and initscripts chapters in particular.
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