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Force Boot to Command Line

May 2017

Having installed a netinstall version of Lubuntu (the smallest ISO I could get) on a Sony Vaio netbook, I had no option during the install to not include the bundled shell. So I wanted to force Linux to boot only to the command line, here is what I did:

Open the GRUB config file with a text editor (Make a backup first).

  sudo vi /etc/default/grub 

Look for the line that starts with GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT and comment out that line by placing a hash # symbol in front of it.


This will disable the initial splash screen, and enable verbose mode (i.e., showing the detailed boot procedure).

Then change GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX=“” to:


Next, uncomment the line that says “#GRUB_TERMINAL=console.


The updated GRUB default configuration looks like the following:

# If you change this file, run 'update-grub' afterwards to update
# /boot/grub/grub.cfg.
# For full documentation of the options in this file, see:
#   info -f grub -n 'Simple configuration'

GRUB_DISTRIBUTOR=`lsb_release -i -s 2> /dev/null || echo Debian`

# Uncomment to enable BadRAM filtering, modify to suit your needs
# This works with Linux (no patch required) and with any kernel that obtains
# the memory map information from GRUB (GNU Mach, kernel of FreeBSD ...)

# Uncomment to disable graphical terminal (grub-pc only)

# The resolution used on graphical terminal
# note that you can use only modes which your graphic card supports via VBE
# you can see them in real GRUB with the command `vbeinfo'

# Uncomment if you don't want GRUB to pass "root=UUID=xxx" parameter to Linux

# Uncomment to disable generation of recovery mode menu entries

# Uncomment to get a beep at grub start
#GRUB_INIT_TUNE="480 440 1"

Now use update-grub command to re-generate a GRUB2 config file in /boot based on these changes.

  sudo update-grub 

For systemd-enabled desktop only: If your desktop uses systemd (e.g., for Debian 8 or later or Ubuntu 15.04 or later), there is one additional step needed. That is to change the default target from “graphical” target to “multi-user” target. Skip this step if your desktop does not use systemd.

  sudo systemctl set-default 

Now reboot and hopefully you will be at a text based login prompt.

force_boot_to_command_line.txt · Last modified: 2023/03/09 22:35 by