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GRUB -You can get much more out of it!

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#1 wizardfromoz


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Posted 25 December 2015 - 02:15 AM

Alternative Title - "Its Grub But Not As We Know It"



Grub is a lazy little bugger. Its core file can be as little as 1.3Kb, and be comprised of less than 50 lines. And yet, with its associated brethren files and modules, it has an impact on our Linux experience, not only at startup, and at shutdown/reboot, but maybe even between?


I see, not only no reason why we shouldn't, but EVERY reason why we SHOULD, get the little bugger to work up a sweat and do something for the user. Shall we?




Some background for what is to follow can be found at




This Topic was able to solve the user's dilemma, thanks largely to the input of Al1000. It is my intention to deal first with the enhancements we can make to Grub to aid the Visually Challenged, as they are arguably in the most need.


To that effect, I will be taking some of the information Al has provided, (hopefully) enhancing it, explaining where it does NOT apply and why, and providing solutions.


I will be taking a global approach of looking at environments comprising:


  • Single boot, via Linux

  • Dual boot with Windows and

  • Multi-boot Linux, with or without Windows included

I will also be referencing, not just Debian-based solutions, but solutions which can be applied under RPM-based Distros, and the Gentoo family, which includes my Sabayon. Hopefully, there will be something for everyone?


Once the visual enhancements coverage is dealt with, I will be straight into a (surprisingly large) number of other applications you may find useful, simply by tweaking Grub.


Through the cooperation of Moderator Chris Cosgrove, I have a number of screenshots to follow, and to which I will be referring along the way, in our journey with Grub.


If you wish to do any “homework” prior to embarking on this journey, you could follow steps that will allow you to find the base information you need, such as Chris has provided me, and these are found at startup, and by pressing “c” for “command”, and then Tab (look for a module called vbeinfo, if it is there). I will explain more, soon.


Chris's shots are as follows:


0UPFFuT.pngNo.1 - Grub Entry






yMF3vXp.pngNo.2 - 'c' for command pressed - output here. Note module vbeinfo






ureM55D.pngNo.3 - output from vbeinfo



These are from Chris's Dropbox site.


If you have any difficulty viewing them, you can visit here:




There, Number 1 for this exercise is far right, Number 2 on the left, and Number 3 in the middle.


Thanks, Chris!


Stay tuned for more, and enjoy the Season!


:wizardball: Wizard


EDIT - pics issue resolved, I believe, if not, use the link to view his pics?

Edited by wizardfromoz, 26 December 2015 - 12:07 AM.

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#2 wizardfromoz

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Posted 27 December 2015 - 01:59 AM

So we are looking, first, at tweaks of the Grub config that will enhance visibility. And let's face it, you don't need to have to wear reading glasses to find some of these outputs a little on the small side.


The environment from which I am writing this Post is on our Toshiba Satellite, which can be described as being -


Toshiba Satellite S70T-A04G 17.3" Touch/C i7-4700MQ/8GB/1TB/nVIDIA GT 740M


… although the graphics is shared between Intel and nVidia


“Toshi”, as we call it, has:

  1. No Windows (shipped with Windows 8.1, long gone)

  2. Ubuntu 15.10 Mate, Wily Werewolf, 64-bit

  3. Sabayon 15.10 Gnome, 64-bit

  4. Linux Mint Mate 17.3 “Rosa”, 64-bit and

  5. TimNet*, formerly & briefly known as Zorbuntu


running on it. The order is as listed on Grub, with default being Wily Werewolf.


Spoiler is that what this means is … four (4) different Grubs, different -

  • by version

  • by Distribution

  • by where Grub's config file/s and associated files are stored, particularly where it relates to

    • Debian-based

    • RPM-based

    • Other

  • by what will or won't work, to get a satisfactory outcome such as MalwareMutilator was able to achieve at the Topic referred to in Post 1, and, not covered until now …

  • by whether or not you are working with a computer using UEFI or BIOS


I also have checked this with two other computers in our household, running 6 different Linuxes, and I will list their specs as we go, hope it does not confuse.


In the next Post, you may find it useful to open another tab on your browser, and have the other Topic running side-by-side with this. Other than that, I will 'port what is relevant from there to here – screenshots, &c, and use the Quote box to refer to advice from there.


*TimNet is a working Distribution, which morphed by accident from Ubuntu and Zorin 14 months ago. I have it running on two computers. Search for it here at BC under TimNet or Zorbuntu.


:wizardball: Wizard

#3 wizardfromoz

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Posted 03 January 2016 - 02:47 AM

Well, it's another year and we are back again.



Now we are focussing on visibility issues with Grub at startup, with its output there, specifically, in its Menu presented to us.


Let's take that Topic I referred to earlier




… and further examine some of the information that was given there. The following should be noted:


  • I am not saying the information given there was incorrect, rather, that it was incomplete (as will be mine, as you will see) – rather, that it can be added to, to cater to more users with their specific circumstances.

  • Using that information, the OP was able to have his problem solved – a win!

  • However the information I have gathered and am disseminating here may provide for … more winners?


We begin with #4, and a module known as vbeinfo.


In that Post, Al1000 gave the following information, and my comments are in blue coloured font, italicised and bolded, to qualify further:




You can also do this without installing anything.
1) At your dual-boot Grub menu, press c to bring up the Grub command prompt.
2) Type vbeinfo and take a note of the resolutions listed. Vbeinfo is a module which ships with a number of Grubs, but also DOESN'T ship with perhaps as many (see below for more info*). In the absence of vbeinfo, use videoinfo – output is identical, or as near as.
3) Type reboot and boot your computer into Mint. Alternative is to press your Esc key – this will return you to the Grub Menu – the 10 second (or whatever) timeout is eliminated and you can choose what to boot into.
4) In Mint, open a terminal and type:

sudo nano /etc/default/grub – if you find nano not to your liking, you can also use your usual text editor, eg gedit for Ubuntu Unity, pluma for MATE environment, opening it as superuser, with the graphical equivalent of sudo, eg
<gksu gedit/etc/default/grub> … substitute “pluma” for “gedit” on MATE.
From the desktop GUI, you could likewise open the file and edit it from your File Manager by right-clicking and choosing “Open as Administrator”.

(This command will open the Grub global configuration file in nano text editor)
5) Using the directional arrows on your keyboard scroll down to where it says:

# 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'

6) Using your backspace key, delete the # from the line that says # GRUB_GFXMODE (deleting the # symbol is known as "uncommenting the line." (The # at the start of the line tells the computer to treat the line as a comment. Uncommenting the line means the computer will do what it says))
7) In place of the 1280x1024 (your resolution may not be the same as mine) type a lower resolution that you noted down in step 2.
8) Save and exit nano (hold down Ctrl and press x, then press y)

- if you are using nano, here, there is an “8)(a), that it will prompt you with the appearance of the file you are about to save, with that filename. If you are happy with that, press y.
9) Update Grub (open a terminal and run this command: sudo update-grub)
Now reboot your computer and see if you like the size of the text in your Grub boot menu. If not, repeat steps 4 - 9 and use a different resolution.


* - so I said, at the other Topic, p1 #7



Hate to set a cat amongst the pigeons, but vbeinfo may have gone the way of the Dodo. Apparently it was headed that way towards the end of the original GRUB (now renamed Grub Legacy), and is no longer in the latest GRUB2.


Sources I have checked show varying lists of the CLI commands from pressing "c" at the initial Grub entry point, and they vary markedly.



That was, in fact partially incorrect. The vbeinfo module had not quite in fact gone the way of the dodo, nor was it totally absent since the introduction of Grub2. Rather, it was to do with whether you are running a computer that is (U)EFI or BIOS. vbeinfo module does not get installed if you are operating from a UEFI environment, irrespective of the Grub version you are using. So if vbeinfo is not there when you press 'c' for Grub commands, just use videoinfo, to follow directions such as Al has provided. The reference to using, in "real" grub, vbeinfo appears simply to be an oversight on the part of the programmers, a bug if you wish, which I may report - if YOU do, let me know.



The #GRUB_GFXMODE line Al has referred to has more options available to you, to customise your experience. I will be reporting on that, and much more, in my next Post.


In the meantime, I will leave you with one of my 6 or more "grubs" - you might wish to compare it with your own, and then we will look at the differences, rather than the similarities.


This one is from Ubuntu 15.10, MATE, Wily Werewolf, and thus very current, and it is from the Toshiba Satellite running under UEFI:




# 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"



Date/Timestamp - Thu 22 Oct 2015 02:54:44 AEST


Enjoy Linux - I do


:wizardball: Wizard


Edited - had to modify font colour formatting lost from LibreOffice doc.

Edited by wizardfromoz, 03 January 2016 - 02:51 AM.

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