When I boot up Ubuntu and I don't have the graphical boot screen (Plymouth) enabled I see a bunch of text saying if an action was [OK] or it [FAILED].

Since this process is a bit quick I can't fully read everything, but I would like to know what happens exactly.

I think there must be a log file somewhere where all this is written down.

But where?

  • journalctl -b. From the docs: "Show messages from a specific boot. [...] The argument may be empty, in which case logs for the current boot will be shown." – PerlDuck Jan 14 '18 at 15:46
  • Same question on ServerFault: All Debian boot messages. – Alexey Feb 24 '19 at 12:04

To see information from your most recent boot, run

journalctl -b

To see the details that were logged during a previous boot, just in case you need to compare them with your most recent, run

journalctl --list-boots 

You will then see results similar to the output shown below, but will need to page to the bottom of the output to see the most recent.

-2 5d45a92d9d5a42d8ae1c8b454f7e1314 Sun 2018-08-19 02:29:21 PDT—Sun 2018-08-19 02:36:26 PDT

-1 d5b8ebc236734ee69c48c3809ae452b1 Sun 2018-08-19 02:43:06 PDT—Sun 2018-08-19 07:20:54 PDT

 0 6f844406186e4e31ba0375a7bc736242 Sun 2018-08-19 10:43:31 PDT—Sun 2018-08-19 18:54:51 PDT

At the very bottom of the output, you will see a line that starts with 0, which will represent your most recently logged boot info, the same info you saw when you ran journalctl -b.

To see the data that was logged during the previous boot, copy the identifier from the line that starts with -1 and run the following

journalctl --boot=d5b8ebc236734ee69c48c3809ae452b1

To go back further in time, just change to -2, -3, -4, etc.


The log is in /var/log/boot.log. I set up a startup command on my system when I log in that opens a terminal and does "more /var/log/boot.log so each time I log in, I can check if there are any issues. If you only want to see failed lines, you can make it read:

grep FAILED /var/log/boot.log : more

which will show only lines with the word FAILED in them.

Note that /var/log/boot.log only shows the log of the startup commands, not the complete boot prior to that point.


The log file in question is /var/log/boot.log. This contains in particular the messages you are seeking.

  • 2
    I have don't have a file named boot.log in /var/log . – IronPig Jan 14 '18 at 18:19

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