increasing grub timeout?

John Summerfield debian at
Wed Nov 25 00:27:32 UTC 2009

Kamil Paral wrote:
> ----- "Scott Robbins" <scottro at> wrote:

>> (Dinosaur that I am, I've always thought that there is too much
>> emphasis
>> on quick boots with pretty splash screens, but that's just the old
>> vs.
>> the new and all that rot.)
> Hello,
> I would not try to cure the symptoms but the cause of the problem.
> The problem is not "the timeout is short enough", but it is "it's
> hard to get into grub boot screen". For example in the Windows world,

A large part of the problem is the brevity of the delay.

> the bootloader doesn't show any items and doesn't wait, but *everyone
> knows* that you just press F8 again and again on computer start if
> you want to get into the rescue mode. Even my "common users" friends
> know that (which also says something about product quality ;)).

One of my frustrations with Windows was that I did not know.

One can configure its bootloader to show a menu (and to boot Linux). Up 
to Windows XP it's notepad to \boot.ini

The Windows model is worth considering, but one should examine whether 
its ideas are good. Some are, some are not.

In Windows, it's easier to turn on boot-time messages (such as they are) 
than in Linux that has them turned off.

> So, what the situation with grub? If I press Esc/arrows frequently on
> computer boot, very often the Grub freezes the whole computer. Black
> screen, nothing happens. I have to press Esc/arrow once in the right
> moment, not too early, not too late, to get into the boot screen. That
> sucks.

You have a bug, either in grub or in your slushware,

> I have just googled a little and I have found out, that it should be
> sufficient to hold Shift while starting up (really hold, no pressing
> needed) and the boot screen shows. This is great. It should work mainly
> for Grub 2, but from my attempts also Grub (1) available in Fedora 12
> responds to Shift holding.
> So I think the problem is solved, we just need all the users to know
> this. If the sentence "Hold Shift while starting computer until boot
> screen shows up" is as frequent as "Press F8 until...", then I think
> we have no problems with 0 second default timeout (and therefore fast
> booting). The main task is to communicate this knowledge widely to the
> users.

A problem with untimely keypresses is that some BIOSes diagnose a stuck 
key and pause the boot.

> Does this solve your problem, or have I understood it incorrectly?

First, the menu needs to be displayed.
Second, it must be displayed long enough for _novices_ to read the 

That is, more than three seconds.



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