How to Edit the Grub Menu in Ubuntu


Ubuntu Linux installs a menu giving users a choice of which operating system to boot. Typically, the choice is between Microsoft Windows or Ubuntu. GRUB (Grand Unified Boot-loader) drives this menu. The menu displays for 10 seconds. If no choice is selected, Grub starts the first (default) O/S.

  • Boot Ubuntu, login as a user and start a terminal session.

  • Make a copy of the GRUB menu file as a backup by entering "cp /boot/grub/menu.lst /boot/grub/menu.lst_BU." Use this file to restore menu.lst if the changes fail.

  • Edit the menu using the command "sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst."

  • Count the number of possible operating system choices. For example, when first installed Ubuntu will be the first O/S in the file. Lower down in the file will be Windows XP. Count other operating systems, if installed.

  • Find the line "default = 0." Grub sets the default to boot the O/S located as the first (0 relative) in the file menu.lst.

  • Change the line "default = 0" to "default = 1." Save the file and exit. This changes the default from Ubuntu to Windows XP. Ubuntu appears first in the file and first on the menu display. Windows XP is further down in the file and appears below Ubuntu on the menu display.

  • Restart the PC. Let the GRUB menu take the default to verify the change . The default is now set to 1 which means Windows will boot when no choice is made.

Tips & Warnings

  • Changing the wording displayed for boot choices on the menu can be done while editing the menu.lst file.
  • To restore the backup file, boot with a CD based Linux disk. Mount the PC based Ubuntu for updating. Replace the menu.lst with the backup by renaming the files. Dismount the disks, remove the CD based Ubuntu and try to reboot the PC.
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