Changing Bootup Resolution (Plymouth) in Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx

I've written a post on adjusting the bootup resolution i.e. the resolution of the splash screen that shows up when you start Ubuntu. Lots of things have changed since then. GRUB2 has replaced GRUB as the default bootloader and Plymouth has replaced Usplash so although changing the bootup resolution has a similar procedure, its a bit more complicated with GRUB2 and Plymouth.

Why would you want to change the bootup resolution? People are complaining that the ubuntu logo in the startup splash screen has turned large and ugly after installing ATI or Nvidia propitiatory divers. That is because the bootup resolution is too low. Other people might not be able to see the splash screen at all. In short, if you have any issue related to the splash screen not showing up properly, you are recommended to try this procedure. This is what the splash screen would normally look like(click to view full size)-

Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Splash Screen
Nice and Purple: The Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Splash Screen

Note- In this procedure, I've assumed that your monitor supports a resolution of 1280x1024 and used this resolution in the steps. If you have an old monitor, it is possible that it might support a maximum resolution of 1024x768. You are free to try any resolution your monitor supports. If its a widescreen, you might want to try widescreen resolutions as well. Any resolution would work as long as your monitor supports it. And for those who think its not obvious, when I write 'run ' it means you need to run it in a terminal.

Here's how to change the bootup resolution and fix the big, low-res Plymouth logo-

1. First of all, run sudo apt-get install v86d in a terminal to install the v86d package.

2. Now you need to edit the resolutions in the GRUB2 files so run sudo gedit /etc/default/grub and look for the line-

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"

and replace it with-

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash nomodeset video=uvesafb:mode_option=1280x1024-24,mtrr=3,scroll=ywrap"

Then look for-

#GRUB_GFXMODE=640x480

and replace it with-

GRUB_GFXMODE=1280x1024

Note that you need to remove the # from the beginning of the GRUB_GFXMODE line else it will be commented out. Also, I repeat, you may use any resolution you wish to use in place of 1280x1024 as long as your monitor supports it. Save the file and close the text editor.

3. Now you need to edit another file, so run sudo gedit /etc/initramfs-tools/modules and add the following line at the end of the file-

uvesafb mode_option=1280x1024-24 mtrr=3 scroll=ywrap

Don't forget you need to replace 1280x1024 if you used some other resolution in the last step. Save the file and close the text editor.

4. Now run echo FRAMEBUFFER=y | sudo tee /etc/initramfs-tools/conf.d/splash
You'll get FRAMEBUFFER=y as output.

5. Now run sudo update-grub2
This will generate the updated grub.cfg file.

6. The last step is generating the new splash screen. To do that, just run sudo update-initramfs -u

Now reboot Ubuntu and you should see a much better looking, high resolution splash screen and GRUB menu. If you see nothing at all, it might be because your monitor does not support the resolution you set. Try a lower resolution in that case.

How To: Reinstall GRUB2

When I upgraded my Windows Vista installation to Windows 7, the upgrade removed GRUB from the MBR. This is a very common issue if you are dual booting and you definitely face it some day. Reinstalling the bootloader is very common troubleshooting step if your computer refuses to boot. These days, most of the distros like Ubuntu 9.10 use GRUB 2 and the legacy GRUB bootloader is probably history now. As I've mentioned before, reinstalling GRUB is something I can do with my eyes closed because I've done it several time before. Reinstalling GRUB 2 is a bit different and is something new, its still simple though.

Since I had an Ubuntu 9.10 alternate CD, I just booted from it and selected the rescue system option. That has an option to reinstall the bootloader. This is one of the different methods to reinstall GRUB 2. Well, I could've written my own tutorial on how to reinstall GRUB2 but the Ubuntu GRUB 2 documentation has an excellent, well explained tutorial explaining the different methods to reinstall GRUB 2. So refer to it to solve all GRUB2 related problems.

Upgraded to Windows 7

Although I primarily use Ubuntu on my laptop, sometimes I need to face situations where I need to use Windows just to save myself a bit of trouble. So I dual boot Windows with Ubuntu to get the best out of both worlds(though the former has nothing much to offer). When I bought my laptop, I got Windows Vista Home Premium pre-installed with it. Also, my timing for ordering my laptop was just perfect. Microsoft started offering free Windows 7 upgrades to people who bought their PC/laptop after 26th June. Though I ordered my laptop on 22nd, the order was processed on 26th and I was eligible to get the free Windows 7 upgrade :). The free Windows 7 upgrades were being managed by the OEMs so I registered with Dell for a free Windows 7 upgrade.

When Windows 7 was released, I had my exams and I completely forgot that I needed to order my free upgrade DVD. Midway through my exams, one fine sunny day, I realized that I hadn't ordered my upgrade DVD and so I ordered it on 10th November. I received the upgrade DVD on 30th November which is pretty decent considering the fact that I didn't have to pay a penny for it.

Then it was time to start the Windows 7 Upgrade. The upgrade pack had 2 DVDs- Windows 7 Upgrade advisor and the Windows 7 Home Premium DVD. The upgrade advisor asked me to uninstall a few applications and drivers to prepare for the Windows 7 upgrade. The whole process was a bit time consuming but was hassle-free. Then it was time to actually start the upgrade. The process of the upgrade took around 2 hours or maybe even more. Everything seems to be very time consuming if you compare it with the installation time of Ubuntu. The upgrade advisor installed new versions of the software it had removed prior to the upgrade. The upgrade was successful and I didn't lose a single file(was a bit apprehensive about it initially) and as expected, it removed GRUB from the MBR and installed its own bootloader. Reinstalling GRUB is something that I've done so many times that I can do it with my eyes closed now but this time it was a bit different. This time, I was dealing with GRUB 2. I'll write more about reinstalling GRUB 2 on Ubuntu in a later post some other day.

I can't say much about Windows 7 simply because I haven't used it much. But by first looks, its a nice comeback after the disaster called Vista. The shutdown button is the shutdown button again and overall it looks like an usable OS. I like some of the new features introduced and the best part is that its less demanding in terms of system resources. But well, at the end of the day, its Windows and its in my laptop for use in unavoidable circumstances.

Ubuntu 9.10-Karmic Koala

Ubuntu 9.10 codenamed Karmic Koala released in the end of October. I was at college at that time and the hostel LAN was not working due to some optical fiber failure. The only way I had to access the Internet was through my mobile phone. Since I'm not insane enough to try downloading a 700 MB iso on a GPRS connection, I decided to wait until the LAN problems were resolved. It did take quite a long time and I was midway through my exams by the time the LAN started functioning properly.

Thankfully my subjects in the 3rd sem were relly easy and I didn't need to study much. The day before my Digital Electronics exam, when the LAN started working, I downloaded the Ubuntu 9.10 Alternate CD. It turned out that the downloaded iso was corrupt and the upgrade failed when I tried it. Then started downloading the iso again using a different download manager. This time the iso was downloaded properly and the upgrade ran successfully. But that doesn't mean that it would improve my 0% success rate with Ubuntu upgrades because as soon as I restarted Ubuntu, I had all sorts of issues with my display and probably the ATI drivers are to blame for this. Understanding the fact that upgrades never work (for me at least) and solving the problems might take even longer than doing a fresh install, I did a fresh install of Ubuntu 9.10.

Then I spent the next few hours installing all the applications again. It was much simpler because I had my home folder on a separate partition so my home folder was intact. I got a rough idea of the applications I had installed through the folders in my home folder. And since the application files were intact, I did not to change any settings and make any customizations. This is what makes using a different partition or youfr home folder so useful. So in no time I was using Karmic Koala with everything just the way I like it.

Ubuntu 9.10 has few big noticeable differences from Jaunty but one thing that is easily noticeable is the significantly lower startup time and the new splash screen. Also Empathy is the default IM client but I'm too used to Pidgin so installed it and I didn't care to check out Empathy(its pretty similar though). Also the Add/Remove programs has been replaced by the all new Ubuntu Software Center. Ubuntu 9.10 works perfectly with my laptop. The media keys, brightness keys, wireless key all work properly without the need for any modifications. I'll probably use at least for the next few months though I must say I was tempted to try OpenSUSE 11.2. I downloaded and burnt the CD too but I'm too used to Ubuntu on my laptop the way it is and feel too lazy to try installing OpenSUSE, a distro that might give me problems with drivers for my graphics card. So for now, I'll be using Ubuntu 9.10 on my laptop.