How to Boot Ubuntu 20.04 into Text / Command Console

Last updated: May 24, 2020

Need to do some work in the black & white command line console? You can press Ctrl+Alt+F3 on keyboard to switch from the current session to tty3 text console, and switch back via Ctrl+Alt+F2.

From the startup grub boot-loader menu entry, you may select the Advanced Options > recovery mode > Drop to root shell prompt to get into text mode. However you need to run command mount -o rw,remount / to get file system write permission.

If you want to make Ubuntu automatically boot into the text mode, configure grub settings by doing following steps one by one:

1. Open terminal and run command to backup the configuration file:

sudo cp -n /etc/default/grub /etc/default/grub.backup

2. Edit the configuration file via command:

sudo gedit /etc/default/grub

When the file opens, do:

  • disable GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash" by adding # at the beginning.
  • remove # from the line GRUB_TERMINAL="console" to disable graphical terminal.

3. Save the file and apply changes by running command:

sudo update-grub

4. One more command is required as Ubuntu now uses systemd:

sudo systemctl set-default

How to Restore:

To restore changes, simply move back the backup file via command:

sudo mv /etc/default/grub.backup /etc/default/grub

And run sudo update-grub to apply change.

Also change the setting back in systemd via command:

sudo systemctl set-default


I'm a freelance blogger who started using Ubuntu in 2007 and wishes to share my experiences and some useful tips with Ubuntu beginners and lovers. Please comment to let me know if the tutorial is outdated! And, notify me if you find any typo/grammar/language mistakes. English is not my native language. Contact me via [email protected] Buy me a coffee:

7 responses to How to Boot Ubuntu 20.04 into Text / Command Console

  1. hi ji m
    do you how to prevent network loading into my my computer memory. when i start ubuntu in my computer some people manage to connect to my computer through a network (not internet) and load their version of ubuntu into my computer.

    i believe they start their dirty work from my bios. i cannot change setting. because they copy every password i type. any method to stop them

    • Nathan Kulzer June 9, 2022 at 10:13 pm

      What makes you think this is happening? It could just be an ubuntu update. Single-user mode disables most things loading and then you can inspect your services as root, if you are sure your computer is hacked.

  2. ctrl+alt+f3 dn’t works for me. If I do ctrl+alt+fn+f3 it open a blank screen with cursor on the top left corner.
    I nee to open ubuntu in console mode in order to update nvidia driver. Right now its getting stuck at loading screen before the login screen.

    Please help.

  3. After this changes gnome-session was not working for me!

  4. 22.04 was crashing, and someone suggested it was nouveau and to go to proprietary nvidia. As that was not on my system other drivers menu, I downloaded and tried a more raw install. I got into text ok, but nvidia failed to make a kernel, and now I seem to have gotten stuck part way back with neither. How does one restore the system to a nice stable 20.04?