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Flickering Ubuntu 11.10 Boot Splash Screen

Posted on 24 April, 2012  in Tips and Tricks

I upgraded my file server to Ubuntu 11.10 back in February. When I ran the install CD, the boot splash screen started flickering and it didn’t seem to be loading. After messing around a bit, the install screen came up and I finally got it to install. Unfortunately, when I rebooted my server, it started doing the same thing. Here’s a video I captured that night:

After a while it will settle at the login screen and all will be fine, however it does take a while. In the mean time all the services are up and running and I can SSH into it and access the file shares so it’s not that big of a deal. I usually run it headless anyway so this has been mainly just an annoyance.

I decided to mess around with it again today and it looks like I solved it. It seems newer kernels try to load the graphics drivers early in the boot sequence to allow for things like fancy high resolution splash screens and such. Unfortunately this doesn’t always work right with some cards and you run into issues like mine. The fix is to set nomodeset in the boot options which tells the kernel to not use the drivers and fall back to the BIOS video modes.

To set this option:

  1. As root edit the file /etc/default/grub
    $ sudo vi /etc/default/grub
  2. Find the line that looks like this:
    	...
    	GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"
    	...
  3. Add the nomodeset option to the end and save:
    	...
    	GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash nomodeset"
    	...
  4. Finally, update the grub config file:
    $ sudo update-grub
  5. Reboot:
    $ sudo shutdown -r now

Further reading

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