Got an HTPC running Mint.

$ cat /etc/os-release
NAME="Linux Mint"
VERSION="19 (Tara)"

It has a TV connected via HDMI. Prior to the update if I rebooted the machine via ssh it would start fine while the TV was off. But I did an upgrade:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

now it won't boot unless the attached TV is on. This is why I am always reluctant to update Linux, things tend to get broken.

Just so it's clear, this isn't headless, it's just headless some of the time (when the TV is off). How do I tell it to boot whether it has a TV attached or not? This was working until the update. So something got updated and broke it.

The 2 answers here were not the fix for it. I suspect it has something to do with Grub or Wayland but I don't want to mess around with that unless I am positive I'm doing the right thing.


2 Answers 2


I recently ran into this same issue with my Raspberry Pi devices, where I run Kodi or Raspian. In both cases I fixed this issue by using adjusted steps as outlined in this Raspberrypi SE Q&A titled: How do I get RCA video out of OpenELEC/LibreELEC?.


To start this is my distro:
$ uname -a
Linux OpenELECmb 4.1.18 #1 Mon Feb 29 19:06:37 CET 2016 armv6l GNU/Linux
I mount /flash read/write so I can edit the files on it:
$ mount -o remount,rw /flash
Edit this file:
$ vi /flash/config.txt
Force HDMI:
# Force HDMI even if unplugged or powered off
Save the file and then remount back to read only:
$ mount -o remount,ro /flash


  • Doesn't seem to have worked /boot/config.txt has one line: `hdmi_force_hotplug=1 but when I unplugged the HDMI and rebooted it wouldn't boot up
    – jcollum
    Jul 17, 2018 at 3:18
  • there is a "CONFIG_HDMI=y" in the generic config file... maybe set that to 'n'?
    – jcollum
    Jul 17, 2018 at 3:20
  • I'd be temped to setup an SD card and put Raspian on it and verify if it's something w/ this hardware vs. something w/ Mint.
    – slm
    Jul 17, 2018 at 3:55
  • Nah, too much effort for a minor annoyance
    – jcollum
    Jul 17, 2018 at 4:21
  • mount -o remount,rw /flash -- since I'm using a hard drive I don't think this will work
    – jcollum
    Jul 7, 2019 at 19:10

If the system connected to the TV has another VideoOutput, say a VGA, you could

  • buy/build/get a VGA Dummy plug like this one & connect it.
  • Configure the HMDI output to be a clone of the VGA
  • (Maybe necessary) Configure the VGA output to be "Primary"

That way, when the system boots, it always detects the VGA dummy plug as an active output, and starts the way you want it.

Then, if you switch on the TV, regardless of preboot, or at some later point, it will clone the output of the primary render surface. (Where your Kodi runs)

The same principle works with DVI&HDMI (and then also support >1080), but then requires different dummy plugs. I know from personal experience that this works.

If your Device only has one (HDMI) video output, then you can use one of the "Active Switcher" type devices. Most of the smaller ones are under 50$, and some can emulate an always-on display, even if the connected device is offline. 2019 Models can also mostly do 4K.

  • correction: it has mini-DP out; there are mini DP dummy plugs but since I fixed this before with configuration (but don't recall how!) I'm sure I don't need to put money/hardware into fixing this
    – jcollum
    Jul 7, 2019 at 19:12
  • 1
    @jcollum Before the update you had xorg. There it was easy to force an always-on output for most videodrivers. Now you probably have Wayland. I encountered similar situation where this also turned out to be the problem Jul 7, 2019 at 19:32
  • Is Wayland a video driver?
    – jcollum
    Jul 7, 2019 at 21:27

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