I need to boot from a USB drive installation of Ubuntu 10.10 to do some maintenance on an older machine, and I don't feel like waiting for five minutes for the gnome to log me in. Is there a boot option that I can specify that will allow me to boot straight into bash?


You can install to your usb the server edition iso without the graphical interface so you boot straight into console.

From the normal ubuntu desktop booting iso in the begging you have 3 secs when you are show the icos keyboard and human. If you press any button you can execute commands on bottom to pass parameters.

  • Perfect - just the answer I was looking for. Thank you very much!
    – eckza
    Apr 18 '11 at 13:10
  • @kivetros you are welcome :)
    – topless
    Apr 18 '11 at 14:04

At the first textual menu, where you can choose to start ubuntu, check the disk or boot from first hard drive, press F6 for option, then ESC to dismiss the option menu. You should see the boot options line, ending with two dashes.

Before the dashes, after quiet splash insert init=/bin/bash and press enter.

After some errors, you should reach a shell prompt.


I have never booted directly off of a usb chip, but it sounds like the same kind of thing as booting off a CD. At one point, there was a menu when you first start the cd with different options such as:

  1. Try Ubuntu without making changes to your computer
  2. Install Ubuntu
  3. Recover a Broken System
  4. Etc.

This is still there, but you have to put in some input first. When you see the purple screen with the keyboard and accessibility icons, press an arrow key on your keyboard. This should give you that menu. Choose "boot from first hard disk" and you now boot from the HDD without removing the flash drive.

Hope this helps, your question was a bit confusing.

  • That is not at all what I want to do. I want to start Ubuntu without starting X so that I don't have to wait for gnome to load before I get to work. All I need is a Terminal (aka bash) window.
    – eckza
    Apr 15 '11 at 20:22

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