Running an Ubuntu Server 15.10 as a guest VirtualBox VM, on a Windows 10 host.

Default terminal resolution is too small and messy, and I want to maximize the terminal or at least get it to a bigger resolution.

I've tried to edit /etc/default/grub and /etc/grub.d/00_header according to the following:

  1. Proper way to change terminal resolution in Ubuntu Server 13.04?
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  4. Change Ubuntu Server 14.04 Screen Resolution
  5. adjust resolution on Ubuntu Server 10.04?

grub resolution does respond and changes accordingly, but I don't really care for that - I want to change the terminal resolution.

I tried editing the GRUB_GFXMODE line according to the vbeinfo's available resolutions. After running update-grub and update-grub2 I got the following output: output from running update-grub command


  • are you referring to terminal or shell? note that they are 2 different things
    – ostendali
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 15:47
  • Do you mean the resolution of VirtualBox console of the VM?
    – Tung Tran
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 16:02
  • Well @ostendali: terminal and shell both refer to software... I guess the best way I can explain it is by saying I want more space for the lines that appear on the terminal, in shell. More "black screen" in the back - so a big amount of lines will display "good" and won't have to be "lowered" to the next line. All of the above refer to when I'm using the Ubuntu Server console - not the grub. TungTran: I guess that yes. That. Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 16:49
  • referring to software doesn't mean they are the same thing, again, pls be more specific next time. However, if you follow the steps on this forum here: forums.virtualbox.org/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=33214 you can set the resolution of your preference.
    – ostendali
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 17:01
  • Yes @ostendali, they are not the same. I just wasn't sure which specifies my intentions best. Anyways - I followed the link you posted, which essentially utilizes the same methods I've tried before - and the only "new idea" I found was setting the color to 8 instead of 32 or 24, but that didn't work for me either. Thanks for the link, though. Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 17:19

2 Answers 2


Full-screen resolution can be achieved on the VirtualBox server console terminal, but setting only the GRUB_GFXMODE in the /etc/default/grub is not enough. (It may be enough for the desktop version though...)

I downloaded and installed Ubuntu 15.10 x64 server installer to test this solution and it worked!

Install hwinfo

sudo apt-get install hwinfo -fy

Got the supported mode using hwinfo

sudo hwinfo --framebuffer | grep <desired resolution>

For me it was

sudo hwinfo --framebuffer | grep 1280x1024

and the output looked like follows.

  Mode 0x0306: 1280x1024 (+160), 4 bits
  Mode 0x0307: 1280x1024 (+1280), 8 bits
  Mode 0x0319: 1280x1024 (+2560), 15 bits
  Mode 0x031a: 1280x1024 (+2560), 16 bits
  Mode 0x031b: 1280x1024 (+3840), 24 bits
  Mode 0x0345: 1280x1024 (+5120), 24 bits

Please note that it gave two mode values for 24 bit colour, but only one of them was a valid value, the other one just didn't work. In this case do as I did, try an other value from the list.

Edit /etc/default/grub

sudo nano /etc/default/grub

Uncomment the line starting with #GRUB_GFXMODE, add below it a new line for GRUB_GFXPAYLOAD_LINUX. Finally locate the line starting with GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT and add the chosen video mode from the previous hwinfo query.

Here is a sample fragment of my /etc/default/grub file.


# Uncomment to enable BadRAM filtering, modify to suit your needs
# This works with Linux (no patch required) and with any kernel that obtains
# the memory map information from GRUB (GNU Mach, kernel of FreeBSD ...)

# Uncomment to disable graphical terminal (grub-pc only)

# The resolution used on graphical terminal
# note that you can use only modes which your graphic card supports via VBE
# you can see them in real GRUB with the command `vbeinfo'

Save the file using CTRL+O, then exit pressing CTRL+X.

Now we can upgrade grub and reboot.

sudo update-grub && sudo reboot

After reboot you will have a terminal with your chosen/full screen resolution :)

Also tried it on Ubuntu 14.04 and 16.04 with success.

  • Well I don't that setup anymore, so I can't say I tried your suggestion... but I recall playing around with those parameters before and they didn't work for me. Thanks for the answer, though. I hope others can vote this up if it helps them :) Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 12:45
  • +1 Ever since Ubuntu Server 15.x, I've been having trouble changing my console resolution when running under VirtualBox and this now seems to be the only solution that works. Thanks a lot!
    – LightBulb
    Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 13:29
  • @LightBulb Thanks for noting, :) vbeinfo worked for 12.04, but I found rebooting inconvenient, the process itself cumbersome to do and also to document. Installing hwinfo and getting framebuffer information is easier and more elegant, an evolution of Linux that i find appealing.
    – elbedoit
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 8:00
  • 1
    IIRC, in Ubuntu 14.04 and earlier, it was enough to simply set desired resolution by changing GRUB_GFXMODE in /etc/default/grub. I don't know why but someone decided to change this and make it more complicated.
    – LightBulb
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 15:58
  1. Boot the Ubuntu VirtualBox and press Shift to get Grub2 menu.
  2. Press c to bring Grub console
  3. Run vbeinfo to get supported modes

    grub2 vbeinfo - supported vesa BIOS modes

  4. Choose one and modify /etc/default/grub, example (Uncomment the line)

  5. Update boot list

    sudo update-grub
  • 1
    Thanks for the answer @Sneetsher. Though this concept is already found in askubuntu.com/questions/456527/… which I posted, I tried it again. Running update-grub had no effect but running update-grub2 did change the resolution, but only when the grub menu shows up - when the machine's running, the resolution remains the same. I'll update the question and add the output I got from running update-grub and update-grub2, maybe it'll give some information regarding the problem Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 8:59
  • @dsblind , I will try to setup same test env, and let you know my results I'm using VirtualBox 5.0.10 r104061 GuestAdditions 5.0.2. Could you edit question and add VBox & its guest additions versions. also output of vbeinfo
    – user.dz
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 9:18
  • This no longer works with Ubuntu Server 15.x and newer. Answer provided by @elbedoit seems to be the only one that really works.
    – LightBulb
    Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 13:24

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