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 Fixing the black screen after grub boot-up (screen/video settings mismatch)

Problem: You got a black screen in place of the friendly graphical login screen at the end of the Linux Mint boot sequence.

Don't tell me why but I have found this issue in several installations or reinstallations of Linux Mint (and other distributions) in previously working systems. It is related to failed detection of hardware, or by upgraded drivers (nouveau, spring 2011). Current video cards are willing to generate resolutions/frequencies over your monitor's capabilites.

You will end your first install (and/or reboot procedure), with black screen after several normal messages or disk activity just before getting the normal user prompt  (it will never come out). It may even happen with the installation CD/DVD of some new distributions. 

You will notice that the computer is working fine as it reboots gracefully if you click [Ctrl]+[Alt]+[Del] meaning that you have a working system but with a video problem. It mimicks a computer hanged (dead) but is not the case !

If the monitor is smart enough it will complain about wrong frequency or no signal. 

Here is a simple and short fix that will allow to boot and configure the system from a graphical user interface (In Linux Mint will be Gnome).

  1. Reboot and wait to see the initial boot screen of GRUB with a list of operating systems. Tap a cursor key to avoid automatic boot.
  2. Select your choice (pe. LInux Mint) with the cursor and then press the [tab] key to get the full boot grub commad line. Don't be afraid: is a long command. Avoid modifying it.
  3. Go to the line starting with the word linux and ending with the words: quiet splash
  4. Add one of the following '????.modeset=0' parameter at the end of the long grub command line as is (type 1 space before). Use the parameter related to the brand or chipset of your video card . pe.: use nouveau  or nvidia for nvidia based cards (proprietary driver, just nv in some linux distributions, nouveau driver is the default in Mint) ), use radeon for amd/ati cards, i915 for intel based motherboards, ,,,  These are the most common examples.
    1. nvidia.modeset=0
    2. nouveau.modeset=0
    3. radeon.modeset=0
    4. i915.modeset=0 
    5. r128.modeset=0  (for very old ati rage 128 cards...)
    6. If you don't know the brand you may use just one word:   nomodeset
    7. Your will find the full range of drivers and more info at wiki
  5. Press [Ctrl]+[X] to boot with this added parameter. This parameter will not be saved, just used in this single boot and nothing is damaged. To cancel without changes press [Esc].
  6. Hopefully, the system will boot into a default graphical environment and you will be able to install/reinstall driver or configuration packages. In my case I solved my issues in a old nvidia cards (Quadro NVS 280 and geforce 7300LE) using a legacy nvidia 96 or 173 drivers, respectively, in place of nouveau. And nvidia-settings package.
  7. Desperate Mode. If you cannot get a graphical user interface with this parameter and/or an 'Monitor frequency error'  there is an alternate way (as always in linux). This situation may happen if you have replaced your video card, or the the driver needs additional parameters (I suffered it with a intel chipset)
    1. Use a lower resolution but highly compatible vesa driver. In the same line described in step 3 add this second video mode parameter (grub_gfxmode=). You may use one of them
      • GRUB_GFXMODE=1280x1024x32      (in most large modern monitors) 
      • GRUB_GFXMODE=1024x768x16        (1024x768 is safer in older or smaller systems)
      • Many other settings are possible as: GRUB_GFXMODE=vga=vesa
  8. For those brave enough, more detailed help may be found at Grub2 help in Ubuntu

Tags: black screen video mode hangs boot grub2 settings configure install
Created: 2 years ago.
Last edited: 2 years ago.
Reviewed: 2 years ago.
Read 0 times.

2 months ago

I have an AMD Radeon HD 8700M and I have not been able to make any of these changes to give me anything but another blank screen. I am booting from a USB drive with Linux Mint 16 "Petra" Cinnamon on it. My hardware is a stock Samsung ATIV Book 8 running Windows 8.1. Can someone please help me with this? Thanks!  
5 months ago

Although I'm not mint user, I found here solution to my problem:
after choosing grub menu entry my screen in kubuntu 12.04 always looked like crashed; I had to press alt-f1 and alt-f7 fast to wonder my bootsplash or just wait for login screen.
Now after adding nouveau.modeset=0 everything runs marvelous!
However the mouse cursor is disappearing on no-move in KDE and this really sucks :(
6 months ago

You saved my day!
("e" instead of tab, in my case too)
6 months ago

Further comments about my problem with the Black Screen: I have an ATI Radeon HD 4550 Display Adapter. I added the word "splash" at the end of the line you referenced followed by "[space]radeon.modeset=0". There was no change after rebooting. Did I do good? "The operation was a success but the patient died?"

6 months ago

I wonder if the above advice should work with Ubuntu? The line you referenced ends with "Quiet" and no "splash". Perhaps I have joined the wrong forum.

Best wishes,

6 months ago

I must thank you very much for sharing this solution. I was getting really desperate, but using your procedure I managed to fix the issue. Big big thanks!

(just for the record: in my case, in step 2 I had to push the 'e' key instead of tab)
1 year ago

Your text about modeset is not exactly right. Modesetting drivers are not the same as drivers. r128 and nvidia are not kernel mode-setting drivers, you won't change anything on systems using those drivers by including nomodeset. i915, radeon and nouveau are right; but since nomodeset works for all three, no need to know what hardware you have.  
1 year ago

Thank you! Next time I will try this. That black screen is a recurring annoyance. I have had to reinstall the whole system due to those crashes caused by mismatch. Now I hope this will be a more convenient way  

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