I've found ways to disable gdm or lightdm or whatever 11.10 uses, but I can't find a way to get a true text-mode boot. I want to see all the kernel messages fly by as it boots, not a stupid purple screen.
I got the desktop manager turned off finally, but now I get a purple screen for a while, then it switches to TTY1. After that happens, I get about half a screen of kernel messages (the end of the boot sequence; stuff about running init scripts etc.) and the login prompt. I did this by changing GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT and GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX to "text" in /etc/defaults/grub.
Really my main question is, what is putting that dumb purple screen up at boot, and how do I disable it!?