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I have disabled the automatic boot into Unity and am booting into a CLI tty with a login shell. While running the CLI login shell the screen resolution is fairly low and only utilizes a tiny portion of my widescreen. I do want to maximise the screen resolution but keep the fonts small. I am actually running this particular install in a virtual machine inside VirtualBox but will also apply it later to other "bare metal" installs on other machines.

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There are two parts to this: the resolution of the screen (a.k.a. mode in the console) and the font. which one are you asking about? –  David Kohen Dec 8 '12 at 12:07
    
@DavidKohen I do wish to increase the screen resolution but keep the font as is (i.e. small). –  haziz Dec 8 '12 at 12:11
    
You can set the resolution in grub settings. –  saji89 Dec 8 '12 at 12:19
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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

You can change the console resolution via GRUB configuration. In the file /etc/default/grub you can find the following lines, near to the end of the file:

# 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'   
# GRUB_GFXMODE=640x480   

Uncomment the GRUB_GFXMODE=640x480 line(i.e, remove the # at the beginning). Change the value 640x480 to the resolution you prefer. Now save the file and run:

sudo update-grub

You can now restart your system.

Courtesy: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1478692

N.B: I have not checked this solution myself, but it should work fine.

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You can also do this from Grub Customizer > Appearance Settings > custom resolution. –  Paddy Landau Dec 8 '12 at 15:50
    
@PaddyLandau, Grub customizer is not part of default Ubuntu installation. It has to be manually installed. So it would be nice if you could add it as another answer with exact steps to install it and use it for this particular purpose. –  saji89 Dec 14 '12 at 7:25
    
I have done as you suggested. –  Paddy Landau Dec 14 '12 at 11:48
    
I am more with saji89 even if Grub Customizer does it. In the time it takes me to download it I had already done the grub editing and rebooted. –  Luis Alvarado Dec 14 '12 at 12:01
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You can use Grub Customizer, a GUI method.

First, you need to install Grub Customizer. Open a terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) and enter the following commands, one at a time.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:danielrichter2007/grub-customizer
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install grub-customizer

The first command will prompt for your password. When the commands are complete, you can close the terminal.

Now you can make your changes.

  1. Open Grub Customizer.
  2. Select the tab Appearance settings.
  3. Select custom resolution and choose the resolution that best matches your screen (or you can type your own).
  4. Press Save; wait while it saves.
  5. Restart your machine to test the changes.

Appearance settings within Grub Customizer

Note: Changing the font is a little buggy, so you may want to avoid doing that.

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+1, for adding a detailed answer about grub-customiser.. :) –  saji89 Dec 15 '12 at 4:12
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This link has a list of modes you can set in boot time, check them by booting with the shift key (so you can enter grub) and in the kernel line add the vga parameter.
After you found the mode suitable for you, add the vga parameter to the GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX variable in /etc/default/grub and run

sudo update-grub
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