It is a common way to set the resolution of a text consoles (that are usually available by Ctrl-Alt-F1 thru Ctrl-Alt-F6) by using a vga=... kernel parameter. I'm using Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid, output of uname -a is:

Linux  2.6.32-33-generic #70-Ubuntu SMP Thu Jul 7 21:13:52 UTC 2011 x86_64 GNU/Linux

To identify modes available i use the sudo hwinfo --framebuffer which reports:

02: None 00.0: 11001 VESA Framebuffer                            
  [Created at bios.464]  
  Unique ID: rdCR.R1b4duaxSqA  
  Hardware Class: framebuffer  
  Model: "NVIDIA G73 Board - p456h1  "  
  Vendor: "NVIDIA Corporation"  
  Device: "G73 Board - p456h1  "  
  SubVendor: "NVIDIA"  
  Revision: "Chip Rev"  
  Memory Size: 256 MB  
  Memory Range: 0xc0000000-0xcfffffff (rw)  
  Mode 0x0300: 640x400 (+640), 8 bits  
  Mode 0x0301: 640x480 (+640), 8 bits  
  Mode 0x0303: 800x600 (+800), 8 bits  
  Mode 0x0305: 1024x768 (+1024), 8 bits  
  Mode 0x0307: 1280x1024 (+1280), 8 bits  
  Mode 0x030e: 320x200 (+640), 16 bits  
  Mode 0x030f: 320x200 (+1280), 24 bits  
  Mode 0x0311: 640x480 (+1280), 16 bits  
  Mode 0x0312: 640x480 (+2560), 24 bits  
  Mode 0x0314: 800x600 (+1600), 16 bits  
  Mode 0x0315: 800x600 (+3200), 24 bits  
  Mode 0x0317: 1024x768 (+2048), 16 bits  
  Mode 0x0318: 1024x768 (+4096), 24 bits  
  Mode 0x031a: 1280x1024 (+2560), 16 bits  
  Mode 0x031b: 1280x1024 (+5120), 24 bits  
  Mode 0x0330: 320x200 (+320), 8 bits  
  Mode 0x0331: 320x400 (+320), 8 bits  
  Mode 0x0332: 320x400 (+640), 16 bits  
  Mode 0x0333: 320x400 (+1280), 24 bits  
  Mode 0x0334: 320x240 (+320), 8 bits  
  Mode 0x0335: 320x240 (+640), 16 bits  
  Mode 0x0336: 320x240 (+1280), 24 bits  
  Mode 0x033d: 640x400 (+1280), 16 bits  
  Mode 0x033e: 640x400 (+2560), 24 bits  
  Config Status: cfg=new, avail=yes, need=no, active=unknown  

It looks like many hi-res modes are available, like 0x305, 0x307, 0x317, 0x318, 0x31a, 0x31b (by the way, what does the plus-number means in the list of modes?). However, setting any of these modes in kernel option string, line vga=0x305, results in either pitch black text console, or screen filled by blinking color/bw dots.

What is the 'modern', 'robust' way to set up high resolution in text consoles?


Newer kernels use KMS by default, so you should move away from appending vga= to your grub line as it will conflict with the native resolution of KMS. However, it depends upon the video driver you are using: the proprietary Nvidia driver doesn't support KMS, but you can work around it.

You should be able to get full resolution in the framebuffer by editing your /etc/default/grub and making sure that the GFXMODE is set correctly, and then adding a GFXPAYLOAD entry like so:


# Hack to force higher framebuffer resolution

Remember to run sudo update-grub afterwards.

  • I've got Driver "nvidia" in my xorg.conf, so it's probably a proprietary driver. I'll experiment with grub anyway. By the way, how to work-around the proprietary driver? – mbaitoff Jul 20 '11 at 8:34
  • I use the proprietary driver and the above method (on a 10.10 box) and it is fine. You could always try a nouveau driver if you wanted: nouveau.freedesktop.org/wiki/UbuntuPackages – jasonwryan Jul 20 '11 at 8:42
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    Looks like GFXPAYLOAD approach worked, but only with set gfxpayload=keep in grub2 configuration files. – mbaitoff Jul 20 '11 at 9:07
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    But I still have a suspicion that my video mode is not native. I provided GRUB_GFXPAYLOAD=1920x1080 with GRUB_GFXMODE=1920x1080x24, but I still see the blurred letters in console as if I were in non-native resolution. – mbaitoff Jul 20 '11 at 9:09
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    Stumbled across this trying to get a larger console for my VM and wanted to add to @mbaitoff's comment. To get the set gfxpayload=keep into the grub2 configuration, you need to add the line GRUB_GFXPAYLOAD_LINUX=keep to your /etc/default/grub. (This is on Debian, and I would assume Ubuntu - YMMV on others). Had to hunt this down in the grub docs, so figured I'd share. – Will Sep 8 '14 at 2:50

For newer Debian & Ubuntu distros using nvidia, I had to do the following:

First, edit /etc/default/grub. Change the following line:


to this:


replacing 1280x800 with the desired resolution.


echo "echo FRAMEBUFFER=y" | sudo tee /etc/initramfs-tools/conf.d/splash
sudo update-initramfs -u
sudo update-grub

To simply change the font size, you can do so using the following command:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure console-setup
  • 2
    +1 for dpkg-reconfigure console-setup – jinowolski Dec 8 '15 at 15:10
  • This worked for me on Kubuntu 16.04 with NVidia 390 driver. – Maxim Egorushkin Mar 20 '18 at 13:31
  • This is NOT A TYPO, echo "echo FRAMEBUFFER=y" is correct. I have checked and verified this and this will not work without the subsequent echo command written to the file. Thanks! – mchid Oct 17 '18 at 6:13

Here's your best option:

Use sudo hwinfo --framebuffer as described, choose a video mode you would like to see during boot in console, then add the option vga=nnn to the kernel boot parameters.

The only trick is that nnn is the video mode you selected from the list produced by hwinfo - CONVERTED TO DECIMAL !!!

If you try vga=0xwhatever it's not going to work.

For instance I chose video mode 0x307 (1280x1024 (+1280), 8 bits), I converted 0x307 to decimal which is 775 and then I used vga=775 in the boot parameters of isolinux/extlinux.

You can use printf to convert hexadecimal to decimal: $ printf "%d\n" 0x307 775

And I got a nice fine text in all consoles from the start.


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