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I've had this problem ever since the oneiric upgrade. Recovery kernel boots straight into root prompt, with no menu.

I also can't telinit 3.

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It sounds like you are missing the friendly-recovery package.

sudo apt-get install friendly-recovery
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friendly-recovery is already the newest version –  user3956 Dec 29 '11 at 11:43
    
I am running a slightly older oneiric kernel, telinit takes me directly to the LightDM login screen. It should take me to a non-root prompt. –  user3956 Jan 20 '12 at 7:52
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