Disable graphics in Ubuntu desktop

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Boot in text mode

Edit /etc/default/grub with your favourite editor, e.g. nano:

sudo nano /etc/default/grub

Find this line:


Change it to:


Update GRUB:

sudo update-grub

Disable graphical desktop


For systems that use systemd

This is an additional step for systemd releases, e.g. Ubuntu 15.04, the steps above for grub are still necessary.

You need to tell systemd to not load the graphical login manager:

sudo systemctl enable multi-user.target --force
sudo systemctl set-default multi-user.target

You will still be able to use X by typing startx after you logged in.


If you are using lightdm as a login manager it can be prevented from loading by disabling it.

You can use an override:

sudo bash -c 'echo "manual" >> /etc/init/lightdm.override'

And to start lightdm on command:

sudo start lightdm

To restore your system so that lightdm is always started on boot:

sudo rm /etc/init/lightdm.override

For more information, the upstart cookbook is your friend: