I have a CentOS 6.2 OS which boots into GUI. How, upon startup, can I not boot into the GUI and instead, boot into the CLI? I want to do this at computer startup time.


When you are at the GRUB menu where you select which OS to boot (if this menu don’t appear, press ESC while you get the “Booting CentOS in X seconds”), press e to edit your boot commands. You should see a screen like this: (parameters may vary)

GRUB menu

Look for the line that begins with kernel. Choose it and then press e again. You will be at a simple editor, add 3 to the end of this line. This means booting in runlevel 3, which is text-mode only.

To make this stick: edit /etc/inittab and look for a line that begin with id:5. Replace the 5 in that line by 3. You can find a brief description of runlevels here, but shortly:

  • Runlevel 0 and 6: halt and reboot the machine, respectively.
  • Runlevel 1: No services running, only root can login.
  • Runlevel 2: Users can login but no networking.
  • Runlevel 3: Networking and text-mode.
  • Runlevel 4: unused.
  • Runlevel 5: GUI.
  • 3
    After making the kernel edit for the runlevel boot mode, (and pushing b for "boot"), is it still supposed to load the splash screen? – bgmCoder May 19 '12 at 21:10
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    @BGM I think so, but it should drop you to the login prompt after it finishes. – Renan May 19 '12 at 21:11
  • It works for level 1, but not for level 3. Is that strange? – bgmCoder May 19 '12 at 21:12
  • Anyway, Renan has the answer. I also found it here: linuxquestions.org/questions/linux-server-73/… – bgmCoder May 19 '12 at 21:25
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    For CentOS 7, type this into the Terminal: 'systemctl set-default multi-user.target' and to change it back, 'systemctl set-default graphical.target' – turiyag Aug 24 '15 at 18:43
  1. Apart from what Renan mentioned, you can switch to another runlevel by simply executing sudo init [level-number] -- this is temporary, when you reboot, you get to your default, configured in /etc/inittab.
  2. If you don't want to see splash screen, you need to replace kernel param rhgb with text in boot menu. To make it permanent, edit /boot/grub/grub.conf.

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