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Why does Linux print a lot of debugging messages during the boot and shutdown processes?

The boot/shutdown processes usually have no error. Why not hide the debugging messages, and show them only when needed?

Also, some distributions' boot/shutdown splash screens fail to completely hide debugging message. Is there any technical limitation with splash screens?

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The difficulty in hiding information that might be useful is deciding on when things are useful or not. So the output from the services that are stopped needs to be captured and hidden unless things are important. The services however need to behave nicely to allow this capture to work, and some don't or have not been adapted for your distro so they (still) write directly to the screen. Rewriting the splash screen on a regular basis (to wipe out output) would probably lead to an ugly refresh flicker.

I prefer not to have a splash screen at all, thus being able to see where a service starts up slowly, e.g. because the DHCP server is down, without having to wait for a timeout with the splash screen hiding why bootup takes so much longer. Or on shutdown, why a service cannot be stopped.

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It has been most useful as Anthon says to see where bootup or shutdown procedures get stuck. Modern distributions even if they use splash screen will have a key combination like Esc or Alt+F2 to switch to the messages screen. – r0berts Apr 25 '14 at 16:45

As often I would say this is for historical reasons. In earlier times all bootup messages could be seen during non-grafical bootups. This gave users something to watch during longish boot procedures.

Nowadays there is a growing tendency to hide technical complexity from the user. This is where splash-screens come into play.

It depends on the specific distribution how much will or won't. be shown there.

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Yes and makes available to technical user to follow what happens during the booting. – peterh May 27 '14 at 6:54

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