Reaching Your Grub Menu in Fedora

On the Fedora Forums, users are frequently bitten by the "feature" of grub having a 0 second time out. They boot and are confronted with a blank screen, or perhaps a blinking cursor, with no real way to get into a console and see what's happening.

There are various ways around this. By default, Fedora boots to a splash screen, hiding all information. To change this, one has to edit /boot/grub/menu.lst. The catch 22 of the situation is that this will often prevent the user from booting to edit the file. However, all hope is not lost.

To get to the grub menu, one can, after getting past the BIOS screen, start tapping any key, including F8. This should pause the grub menu, enabling the user to edit it.

(To edit a grub menu, use the arrow key to get to the line in question, then hit e for edit. See my grub page for more detail.)

My own personal preference is to remove the rhgb quiet at the end of the menu, and also add nomodeset. The reason for this is that even if booting into text mode, it quickly goes to framebuffer mode, but if there are graphic card issues, once again, you will only see a blank screen. Using nomodeset stops it from going to framebuffer mode.

Once this is done, it might, during boot, say no mode is set, and please choose a mode--one can just hit enter and it will continue to boot without using framebuffer.

At this point, hopefully, there will be useful error messages, at least letting the user know where the problem lies. If the error is something about starting the X server, one can choose to boot into runlevel 3, by either editing /etc/inittab (see this old faq question), or adding 3 to the end of the kernel line (after the nomodeset). This at least gives the user the opportunity to possibly solve the problem.

On various virtual machines, this may or may not work. Usually if one uses the host key, for example, right Control by default on VirtualBox, it might work.

There is a proactive method as well. When installing, after installation is over, before rebooting, one can get to a virtual terminal with ctl+alt+F2. (On a VM, again, use the host key--you might have to play around with it, but on VirtualBox, for example, right Ctl+F2 should do it.) Then, if you go to /mnt/sysimage, you will have your installation, and can edit grub there, changing the timeout to 3, and also, if desired, removing the rhgb quiet line, adding the modeset, or making any other changes desired.

A bug was filed about this, and interested parties can go here to be ignored. (It's marked as CLOSED WONTFIX).