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Old 09-10-2011, 11:32 PM   #1
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Registered: Sep 2011
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GRUB Won't Timeout and Auto-Boot Unless Keyboard Is Plugged In

I have an extra machine and thought I'd set it up as a Folding@Home box. I installed the most recent Ubuntu 32 bit, which comes with GRUB. I'm fairly new to linux but I've been reading a ton of guides on it, I got the machine to work exactly the way I want it and able to be managed via SSH from my regular desktop. However, I found once I was ready to unplug the keyboard, mouse, and monitor, the machine no longer booted to the OS.

I plugged the monitor back in and found that it was hanging on the GRUB screen with Ubuntu highlighted. All I need to do is plug the keyboard back in, and the default 10 second countdown begins immediately. Alternatively, if I tap the enter key on the keyboard, it also boots. But with no keyboard, no boot - just stuck on the GRUB screen.

I've done a lot of research because I didn't want to ask a "newbie" question, basically all I've found is to edit a boot file to change the run level to 3 instead of 5, this didn't make any difference though because I'm not getting far enough to actually get to an OS to have a run level for. I also tried editing the GRUB configuration file and changing around the timeout options, but none seem to get it to timeout without a keyboard plugged in.

I could post the grub configuration files and whatnot, but at the moment they're all at the default. If there's any other information I can provide please let me know. I feel like there's just some setting I missed for "don't wait for keyboard" or something...please help!
Old 09-11-2011, 12:01 AM   #2
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Have you checked all known settings within your BIOS? I have seen something like this before in the past, and it might be because of your BIOS settings. Double check before you/we dive into this problem any further if you can.


Old 09-11-2011, 09:12 AM   #3
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Thanks for replying! I've scoured the BIOS settings, I've found things like boot device order, what to do when there's been a power failure, etc. I don't see any setting that seems like "don't boot unless there's a keyboard", what exactly am I looking for?
Old 09-11-2011, 09:28 AM   #4
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Success! I did a little more research and found a way to skip the GRUB menu completely. I found it here:

It's kind of a work-around because it didn't actually solve the issue of GRUB not working unless there's a keyboard, it just skips GRUB completely. However, it maintains the ability to plug in a keyboard and hold shift in order to get the menu and boot into something different.

Here's what the post says:

If the "GRUB_TIMEOUT=0" does not work, [...] open /etc/grub.d/00_header and go to approximately line 238:
gksu gedit +238 /etc/grub.d/00_header
Find this section and make the changes in dark red, then save the file and run "sudo update-grub".

make_timeout ()
cat << EOF
if [ "\${recordfail}" = 1 ]; then
set timeout=-1

# Manually change timeout to 0
# set timeout=${2}
set timeout=0
# End manual change

This should eliminate the menu display. It also preserves the ability to display the menu by holding down the SHIFT key during boot.

I'll mark this thread as 'solved' in a day or so, to see if anyone has any other ideas to actually fix my GRUB problem as opposed to skip it!


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