How-To Geek

Make Grub Bootloader Wait Indefinitely for OS Selection

If you are doing a lot of testing of different builds, there’s nothing more annoying than rebooting and then having the system boot into the wrong choice on the grub menu before you have a chance to pick the one you want. Reader Victor wrote in with this tip: You can just comment out the timeout line entirely to stop grub from picking anything, giving you time to get your morning coffee.

All you need to do is open up the /boot/grub/menu.lst file in your favorite text editor (in sudo mode)

sudo vi /boot/grub/menu.lst

Find the section of the file that contains the timeout information

## timeout sec
# Set a timeout, in SEC seconds, before automatically booting the default entry
# (normally the first entry defined)
# timeout      3

Just put a # before the “timeout 3” line in the file, then save and restart your computer.


Now grub will wait forever until you make a choice. This is especially useful if you want to prevent your computer from ever booting into Windows…

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/25/07

Comments (8)

  1. Adam

    That command opened it up in terminal for me and I had to scroll down the page with the blinking typing box and it wouldnt let me modify any values. I prefer “sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst”.

  2. Steven Seagal

    Of course it opened it up in a terminal – it’s vi. You were probably not issuing the right commands – that’s why it wouldn’t let you modify any values. gedit is nice, but won’t work in a terminal-only window.

    For a simpler terminal-only editor, try nano:
    sudo nano /boot/grub/menu.lst

  3. Hariharakumar

    i opened the menu.lst file in text editor and changed, but i can’t save it, it says “You do not have the permissions necessary to save the file. Please check that you typed the location correctly and try again.”

    What should i do now?

  4. KAFYEKE Owen

    Ahhhh, that’s the tip I was expecting for :)

    Thank you “How to geek”

  5. Luis Lumbreras Picazo

    First let solve one question asked on forum: Why can not save menu.lst -> you are not editing it as root user.

    Now, how can i edit it as root user? Simple put sudo before the command you use to edit it.

    I use to open it in a good looking graphical text editor the following command:
    sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst

    Then when you select to save it will let you, because you are editing it as root (that makes sudo …; run commands being root user).

    Well, thanks for such option, but how can i put lines that makes nothing, for example just to have on screen:

    Ubuntu 9.04 Kernels

  6. june

    with reference to getting boot-loader to wait indefinitely, doesn’t -1 as the default value under ##default num serve the same purpose?

  7. Noobity Noob

    What if you do not have a “menu.lst” file to begin with? How do I go about generating one?

  8. Waffles

    Same as above

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