Make your Grub boot menu pretty


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The Grub boot menu, from which you can choose what operating system to boot, is functional but not very nice. That can be improved greatly.

For example by using one of your holiday pictures as background for the menu. The menu lines then become thin white letters on your holiday picture. You can do that as follows.

Note: this how-to is not meant for a Wubi installation, but only for a normal installation.

This operation isn't very difficult, although you have to use the terminal for it (gasp!).

When you follow the how-to exactly, and copy/paste the necessary magical incantations in the terminal without deviations, then it should succeed.

Note: this operation only makes sense when you have a dual boot (for example Linux Mint and Windows). Because only then you'll see the Grub menu....


Normal procedure

1.The normal procedure should work in most cases, so proceed like this:

Provide a fitting image

1.1. First choose the picture that you want for background. It has to have a JPG format, so the .jpg file extension (.png files might also be suitable, but I haven't tried those myself).

Choose a picture that offers enough contrast for white letters, because the boot lines in Grub will have thin white letters!

Furthermore, the picture should be at least as big as the resolution of your display. Bigger doesn't matter: Grub will then automatically scale it back to fit your display.

When you have no suitable picture, then you can download a picture here from a beautiful evening landscape in Sachsen, Germany:

Click twice on the preview below, in order to magnify the picture to the maximum. Then do a right-click with your mouse on the picture and select "Save image as...". Save it to the default folder Downloads and leave it there.


Now continue with step 1.2.

Put the picture in the right place

1.2. Put the picture, let's call it holiday.jpg, in the folder /boot/grub:

The simplest method is by using the terminal. An example is easiest: the picture called holiday.jpg is now in your folder Downloads.

Launch a terminal window.
(You can launch a terminal window like this: *Click*)

Type (use copy/paste):
sudo cp -v ~/Downloads/holiday.jpg /boot/grub

(of course you should replace holiday.jpg by the name of your own picture)

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password: this will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.

Tell Grub to start using it

1.3. Now you can tell Grub, that he should use holiday.jpg as background for the Grub menu.

You don't need to specify a location of the picture, as Grub sees that automatically. You only need to give Grub a general command to update itself with the new configuration.

Launch a terminal window.
(You can launch a terminal window like this: *Click*)

Type (use copy/paste):
sudo update-grub

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password: this will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.

You're done! You can check it by rebooting your computer. No success? Then you might achieve the right result by preparing Grub. See item 2.1 in the right column of this web page.

Replace an existing background picture?

1.4. Replacing an existing background picture is easy: simply remove the current picture first, and then repeat the above for the new picture. That's all.

Removing is easy. For example, removal of the picture called holiday.jpg can be done by this terminal command:
sudo rm -v  /boot/grub/holiday.jpg

Followed by:
sudo update-grub

(continued in the column on the right)


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When you have no success: prepare Grub

2. When the normal procedure doesn't work, you can try this:

Check the screen resolution in Grub

2.1. When the normal procedure fails, you can usually achieve the desired result by preparing Grub. First of all, check the supported resolution of your display (for example 1366 x 768) in Grub (not in your system):

In the Grub menu, press c to call up a command line.
Then type: videoinfo
And press Enter.

Now you're being presented with the available screen resolutions for Grub. What you're looking for is the one with an asterisk (*), because that's the preferred mode.

Note: the resolutions supported by Grub, may differ from the resolutions that your system supports!

Then boot your system normally.

To make it easy I describe an example, with a display that has a Grub supported resolution of 1366 x 768. 1366 is the width, 768 is the height.

Configure Grub to use the right resolution

2.2. First make sure that you have installed the applications gksu and leafpad:

Launch a terminal window.
(You can launch a terminal window like this: *Click*)

Type (or copy/paste):
sudo apt-get install gksu leafpad

Press Enter and submit your password. Please note that the password will remain invisible, not even asterisks will show, which is normal.

Then type in the terminal (use copy/paste):
gksudo leafpad /etc/default/grub

Press Enter

Now a text file opens. Find the following lines:

# The resolution used on graphical terminal
# note that you can use only modes which your graphic card supports via VBE
# you can see them in real GRUB with the command `vbeinfo'
#GRUB_GFXMODE=640x480

Remove the hash # before the last line, because that turns it into an active line. Then change the resolution into the one you want, for example 1366 x 768:
GRUB_GFXMODE=1366x768

Save the modified file and close it. Now copy/paste the following line into the terminal:
sudo update-grub

Press Enter and if prompted, submit your password. Please note that the password will remain invisible, not even asterisks will show, which is normal.

Now you should see the new boot menu background.

Still no success? Then try a resolution that's one step lower than the maximum resolution that Grub supports.


Want more tips?

Do you want more tips and tweaks for Linux Mint and Ubuntu? There's a lot more of them on this website!


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