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[SOLVED] ubuntu 13.04 shift not working to get into recovery mode, freezes on boot at "loading initial ramdisk"

after i changed the video driver in Software and Updates > Additional Drivers from "Using video driver for the AMD graphics accelerators from fglrx (opensource)" to "using X server - AMD/ATI display driver wrapper from xserver-xorg-video-ati (open source, tested)", when i rebooted, ubuntu would freeze on startup at "loading initial ramdisk".

i read several places that in order to get into recovery mode, you need to hold down shift after the BIOS splashscreen, but that didn't help, i never got the grub list of kernels and modes to choose from.

to fix this, i had to turn off the laptop, take out the SSD disk and connect it to another computer so i could edit the following file:

that file isn't writeable so in a terminal you need to make it writeable for root, like this (when you connect/mount the disk onto another ubuntu machine, the path looks something like the one below):
sudo chmod 644 /media/disk/grub/grub.cfg

now edit the file:
sudo gedit /media/disk/grub/grub.cfg

starting on line 81 i think there's a block of code for setting timeout; change timeout from 0 to 10, so it looks like this:

if [ "${recordfail}" = 1 ]; then
  set timeout=10
  set timeout=10

save the file, unmount the disk from the other ubuntu machine, put it back into your laptop, boot, hold in the shift key after the bios splashscreen shows, THEN you'll get into grub :)

choose the option that looks something like Alternatives (can't remember the actual name, but i think it was the second choice from the top), then choose the most recent kernel that ends in "(recovery mode)" :)


  1. take out the disk?! :O what about bootable flashdisc?

    1. well, SSD is a type of flash disk, but yeah a usb flash drive is easier to "take out". you can apparently also do the same thing without removing the disk, using a LiveCD