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After booting to the GUI in 12.04, I attempt to move to the virtual terminal (or shell, or tty) via Ctrl-Alt-F1 (F1 - 6), and the screen remains blank. I'm tried all 6 tty instances and the results are the same. Ctrl-alt-F7 brings me back to the GUI without a problem. Any thoughts?

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This occurs often together with being unable to see Grub of the boot splash. Can you see those? – hexafraction Jul 11 '12 at 20:11
up vote 31 down vote accepted

This is usually caused because the graphical text-mode resolution set at boot up is not compatible with your video card. The solution is to switch to true text-mode by configuring Grub appropriately:

  1. Open the terminal with Ctrl+Alt+T
  2. Paste the below, and enter your password when asked:

    sudo sed -i -e 's/#GRUB_TERMINAL/GRUB_TERMINAL/g' /etc/default/grub
  3. Then type sudo update-grub

  4. Reboot and the virtual terminals should now work.
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That did it, thanks! It made the text a bit bigger than I would like once it reset to default. I opened the /boot/grub/grub.cfg file to edit the text size and the first line states "do not edit". Suppose that's a question for another day though. Thanks for the help – SeanO Jul 12 '12 at 16:37
Also works for me in 14.04.... great tip. – belacqua Apr 25 '14 at 16:18
Unfortunately, this didn't help with my graphic-driver issues (I need the X server down to install proper drivers, but the lack of drivers prevents me from getting a working command-line with ctrl-alt-F1). – Jonathan Y. Feb 1 '15 at 20:34
CAREFUL, this thing has completely messed up my grub, I don't see a boot menu anymore. (Ubuntu 15.04) – Arty Oct 25 '15 at 3:21
Doesn't work on 14.0.4 for me – Zach Rattner May 17 at 1:57

What fixed this for me was adding nomodeset to the GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT line.

Open up /etc/default/grub. Use whatever method you want or just type this in terminal:

gksu gedit /etc/default/grub

search for this line: GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT

So for example if you have:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash usbcore.autosuspend=-1"

change it to:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash usbcore.autosuspend=-1 nomodeset"

optional: add nomodeset vga=xxx (not just nomodeset), the xxx is a VESA screen code that best matches your screen resolution. Take a look at this.

After you finish update grub sudo update-grub and reboot sudo reboot for the changes to take effect.

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Worked for me. Be sure to read the last paragraph above, about running sudo update-grub to apply the changes. – Andy Thomas Mar 18 at 20:44
Worked for me on 14.0.4 – Zach Rattner May 17 at 1:58

You need to shut down the graphics driver after you CTL+ALT+F1 before you try to install the Nvidia driver

As in "sudo /etc/init.d/lightdm stop"

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