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I use Ubuntu 14.10 virtual machine in headless mode and access it using ssh. But many a times it gets stuck on GRUB boot loader screen and I have to log in to the VM in graphical mode and restart in headless mode. But after some time this problem resurfaces, mainly when VM is not shutdown properly.

So I would like to set the timeout of the boot loader screen to a very low value for the cases when VM is not closed properly.

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You can read the full documentation here. In general it is two steps:

  1. Edit the file /etc/default/grub as root (or with sudo) and set the GRUB_TIMEOUT variable to whatever you want.
  2. Make the changes visible by calling sudo update-grub
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    Since Ammy6Teen mentions that this mainly happens when the VM is not properly shutdown you might also want to mention GRUB_RECORDFAIL_TIMEOUT= in your answer. This variable sets the timeout when there was an error in the last session (e.g. power failure).
    – Kai
    Dec 28, 2014 at 17:01

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