5 Steps Start Ubuntu 16.04, 17.04 in Text Mode

ubuntu start text modeThe advantages of text modes as compared to graphics modes include lower memory consumption and faster screen manipulation. Text mode or console mode or command line mode saves a lot of RAM uses so most of the time it is very beneficial to boot desktop in text mode. This post is a simple explanation to how to boot Ubuntu in text mode. First of all let me clear you that though there is a keyboard shortcut to switch from GUI to text mode i.e. Ctrl+Shift+F1 but using this shortcut is good for temporary purpose only since when we switch to text mode using this shortcut our desktop still runs in background and it leads to same memory and resource consumption as of previous. Here is step by step instruction:

Step 1

Before doing some changes make a backup of the original settings so that you can recover in case you mashed up things. To do this press Ctrl+Alt+T to open a terminal and paste the following command and hit enter.

sudo cp /etc/default/grub /etc/default/grub.gui

Now we have a copy of original grub boot loader configuration file as grub.gui.

Step 2

We are good to go now. We need to make some changes in original boot loader configuration file. Copy and paste the below command into terminal and hit enter.

sudo gedit /etc/default/grub


This opens grub boot loader configuration file in gedit text editor.

Original grub file looks like this

Step 3

Now we need to do following changes in grub file:

  • Comment the line GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet splash”, add # at the beginning of this line. Doing this will remove the splash screen on shutdown and startup so you will be able to see all the processes rather than seeing Ubuntu purple screen.
  • Change GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="" to GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="text". By doing this ubuntu boot directly into text mode.
  • Uncomment the line #GRUB_TERMINAL=console, remove # at the beginning. Doing this will disable graphical terminal and enables black and white text mode.

Save the changes.

Step 4

Now we need to update grub to take effect of all we did so far. Copy paste this command in terminal and hit enter.

sudo update-grub

Step 5

Reboot your computer using command

sudo reboot

Wait for the login prompt. Enter your login details and enjoy Ubuntu in text mode.

If you want to switch back to GUI mode then it's very simple again. It's the time to use our file which we backed up in step 1.
At this stage, we have our grub file configured for text mode. We can save this configuration file for future use by making a copy of it and name it  'grub.text'. Copy and paste the following command in text mode console and hit enter.

 sudo cp /etc/default/grub /etc/default/grub.text

Change grub file to original GUI configured file. Copy and paste following command and hit enter.

 sudo cp /etc/default/grub.gui /etc/default/grub


Update grub by using command

sudo update-grub

Reboot your computer using command

sudo reboot

Wait for the restart. Bingo ! you are back in GUI mode.

At the end, now directory/etc/default/ contains two files, grub.gui for GUI mode configuration and 'grub.text' for text mode configuration. Based on which mode you want, just copy the respective file into original grub file (/etc/default/grub) and update grub.

About Pradip Sakhavala

Pradip is a Linux system administrator, an ardent believer in sharing and contributing to open source community. He has a keen interest in DevOps And IoT. He likes to discuss technical stuff anytime. He has started sharing his experience by blogs recently.

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