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Grub gives me two options, boot Ubuntu and boot Ubuntu Rescue Mode (or something alike). When I boot Ubuntu, I get to the point where dmesg gives green timestamps, but just before a login prompt would appear (I assume), it switches into graphics mode and subsequently sends my monitor into sleep mode, as there is no desktop environment installed.

I can access the box vie ssh, though, where it works as expected. When I boot into Rescue Mode, it will present me with a prompt, whether I want to continue booting. When I confirm, I will get the login prompt. But this requires my interaction - what I want is boot to a text login prompt without any neediness for my attention.

In grub2 config GRUB_TERMINAL=console is set.

Anyone can tell from this information, what is happening?

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You could edit /etc/default/grub and change

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"

to

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash 3"

to start the system in runlevel 3 instead of the default runlevel 5 (GUI).

Then update your grub configuration with

sudo update-grub
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Ubuntu is using systemd by now. To change the default mode at boot, use

systemctl set-default multi-user.target

To go back to graphical mode as default, use

systemctl set-default graphical.target

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