I installed Fedora 23 Workstation on an Intel NUC. When I boot without a display connected and log in over SSH, I see some anomalies. systemd shows the boot process has not finished. The problem seems to be plymouth.

Here's the mystery - I'm sure plymouth is also used on Fedora Server. If you disable plymouth, you don't get any messages about the boot process from systemd. I'm sure lots of people are running display-less systems successfully. What's the problem with my system?

# systemctl status
    State: starting
     Jobs: 4 queued
   Failed: 0 units

Taking a hint from the systemd debugging guide:

# systemctl list-jobs
JOB UNIT                                 TYPE  STATE  
241 plymouth-quit-wait.service           start running
111 graphical.target                     start waiting
247 systemd-update-utmp-runlevel.service start waiting
112 multi-user.target                    start waiting

4 jobs listed.

systemctl gdm looks ok. If you plug in a display it stays completely black until you restart gdm. I suspected that just showed a lack of display hotplug in the kernel driver. However, as soon as I stop the gdm service, plymouth goes away and the boot process is declared finished. Stopping an unrelated service like chronyd doesn't have the same effect.

A little earlier, I noticed the same symptoms if I switch VTs (Ctrl+Alt+F2) at a certain point during the boot process. In this case, switching back to the initial VT (Ctrl+Alt+F1) allows startup to complete.


Seems to be a known issue, though with no resolution yet: https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/gdm/issues/375


The difference with Fedora Server is that it doesn't include a graphical desktop interface. If you disable the default graphical.target with systemctl set-default multi-user.target, then the problem goes away.

graphical.target pulls in display-manager.service aka gdm, which includes the following snippet:

# replaces plymouth-quit since it quits plymouth on its own

It look like gdm doesn't get to set up the display (because I didn't connect one), and then neglects to quit plymouth.

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