How to see what Ubuntu is doing as it boots

by Mark Sobell - By default, Ubuntu displays a graphic as it boots. You can cause Ubuntu to display information about what it is doing in place of the graphic as it boots. If you watch this information scroll by each time the system boots normally, you will become familar with some of the stages the system goes through as it boots. Now, when something goes wrong while the system is booting, you may be able to spot the problem.

[ Enter to win a copy of The Official Ubuntu Server Book, 2nd Ed. ]

As an example, I built a system and tried to install Kubuntu on it. It hung most times I tried to boot it. When I watched the boot information, I found it hung at a different point in the boot process. That obervation led me to believe there was a problem with flakey hardware and led me to a solution.

Note: Changing the boot command line as described in this tip displays boot information for this time only. If you want to see boot information each time you boot, you must change the GRUB configuration files.

The tip

If you are curious and want to see what Ubuntu is doing as it boots, perform an advanced installation and remove quiet and splash from the boot command line: With the DVD menu screen or one of the CD menu screens displayed, press F6 to display the boot command line and a drop-down list. Next press ESCAPE to close the drop-down list. Then press BACKSPACE or DEL to back up and erase quiet and splash from the boot command line. If you have not added anything to this line, you can remove the two hyphens at the end of the line. If you have added to this line, use the LEFT ARROW key to back up over -- but not remove -- whatever you added, the hyphens, and the SPACE on each side of them. Then remove quiet and splash. Press RETURN. Now, as Ubuntu boots, it displays information about what it is doing. Text scrolls on the screen, although sometimes too rapidly to read.

This tip is extracted from the new 3rd Ed. of 'A Practical Guide to Ubuntu Linux', authored by Mark Sobell, published by Pearson/Prentice Hall Professional, Aug. 2010 ISBN 013254248X, Copyright 2011 Mark G. Sobell. For more information about the book, please visit the publisher site:

Follow Mark on Twitter at

Visit Mark's Web site at

ITWorld DealPost: The best in tech deals and discounts.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon