Dmitry Leskov

Fixing Slow Console Redraws In Ubuntu On Virtual Machines

There is one little but annoying bug in Ubuntu. When you install it on a virtual machine, you may notice that the console is very slow, as if it was a 300 baud terminal. (Some people complain that on their systems it takes the installer up to 10 seconds to draw each prompt.) The root cause of the problem is the virtual video hardware not playing well with the framebuffer, which is enabled by default. Here are the solutions that worked well for me when installing Ubuntu 10.04 LTS on VirtualBox.

To disable the framebuffer during Ubuntu install, press F6 at the main Ubuntu installer menu, then press Esc to close the pop-up menu, type “fb=false” at the end of the Boot Options line and press Enter. Note that there is a space character after the trailing “--” in the original boot options string – make sure to leave it in place!

If I failed to make the above paragraph clear, look up the detailed instructions with screenshots in the online Ubuntu documentation.

To disable the framebuffer during boot, add the line “blacklist vga16fb” to the file /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-framebuffer.conf:

cd /etc/modprobe.d
sudo sh -c "echo blacklist vga16fb >>blacklist-framebuffer.conf"
sudo reboot

I have not tried myself the more generic method of changing boot options, which is to edit the respective GRUB configuration file. Just note that most of the available how-tos point to the file /boot/grub/menu.lst, whereas Ubuntu 9.10 and above default to a newer version of GRUB that does not use that file.

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