I recently tried booting into the Grub2's menu entry "Ubuntu GNU/Linux, with Linux 3.2.0-24-generic-pae (Recovery Mode) just to see what was there. It booted successfully, but I had no idea what to do after I was there. My question is where can I find some documentation on the recovery mode and what to do if I truly needed to be there. I'm running Ubuntu 12.04.

1 Answer 1


The recovery mode is normally used when you need an exclusive admin access to your system. You normally go into the root shell and recover/repair the system through the command line.

  1. Switch on your computer.
  2. Wait until the BIOS has finished loading, or has almost finished. (During this time you will probably see a logo of your computer manufacturer.)
  3. Quickly press and hold the Shift key (or Escape key on some computers), which will bring up the GNU GRUB menu. (If you see the Ubuntu logo, you've missed the point where you can enter the GRUB menu.) **
  4. Select the line which starts with "Advanced options". *

  5. Select the line ending with "(recovery mode)", probably the second line, something like:

    Ubuntu GNU/Linux, with Linux 3.8.0-26-generic (recovery mode)

  6. Press Return and your machine will begin the boot process.

  7. After a few moments, your workstation should display a menu with a number of options. One of the options (you may need to scroll down to the bottom of the list) will be "Drop to root shell prompt". Press Return with this option highlighted.

  8. The root partition is mounted read-only. To mount it read/write, enter the command

    mount -o remount,rw /
  9. If you have /home, /boot, /tmp, or any other mount point on a separate partition, you can mount them with the command

    mount --all

    (This must be done following step 8 so that /etc/mtab is writable.) Alternatively, you could try to select "Enable networking" in step 7, though this has been found to cause the system to hang.

* If you have Ubuntu Quantal (12.10) or earlier, omit step 4 (the recovery mode menu items are displayed on the top-level menu).

** If you reboot, there is no need to hold the Shift key in step 3. The GNU GRUB menu will continue to be displayed automatically on each boot until a normal startup of Ubuntu completes. To configure GRUB so the menu is always displayed, even after a normal startup, see https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Grub2/Setup.

Source: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/RecoveryMode

  • 2
    Regarding point 3 - on my computer (Dell Inspiron 15R, Ubuntu 16.04) only Escape key helps to open menu. Shift has no effect - this should be mentioned in wiki Ubuntu.
    – matandked
    Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 13:42
  • @jasmines:Is there any similar option for debian to get a number of options by pressing 'Advanced options'?
    – justin
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 9:28
  • @justin: "advanced options" is just a submenu. You can create such entries by your own. Check grub manual: gnu.org/software/grub/manual/html_node/submenu.html
    – jasmines
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 9:39
  • @jasmines:Oh sorry.I'm asking whether we could get a similar list of options for 'debian' as we get for 'ubuntu' while pressing advanced options.I mean the options like 'Drop to root shell prompt' etc.I can't access even any terminal in debian(It's a login loop issue).
    – justin
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 9:43
  • Oh... I see... but I think you should ask in the Debian community: ask.debian.net
    – jasmines
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 14:10

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