Change your Grub and Grub2 splash screen in Ubuntu

Jack Wallen
Oct 17, 2010
Updated • Nov 28, 2012

Your first question might be "Why bother changing your grub splash screen?" The answer? Why not! Well, actually there are plenty of reasons you might want to change your Grub splash screen. You could be in a company that wants its brand from top to bottom, or you just want your computer to be cool from boot to desktop.

Whatever reason you have for wanting to add a nifty splash screen to Grub, you can. There is no "handy" GUI application for this, so you are going to have to issue a few commands. NOTE: This is something you should undertake ONLY if you know what you are doing. One mistake with Grub and your machine could be rendered unbootable. You've been warned. NOTE: I will show how to do this in both Grub and Grub2

What is the splash screen?

The Grub splash screen is the image you see behind the text as the OS boots. There are certain specifications the splash screen must follow. These specs are:

  • Must be 640x480 pixels
  • Contain no more than 16 colors (12 colors works best)
  • Must be in gzipped xpm format (.xpm.gz).

Fortunately The GIMP can handle all of the above. So the first task is to create your splash screen following the above guidelines. A few tips for creating your own splash images:

  • Monochrome images in either greyscale, or primary colors work best.
  • Abstract images work well because distortions won't effect them as much as reality-based images.
  • Too much detail in an image will be lost.
  • Make sure your splash screen has a strong design, otherwise it will look boring.

After you have created your image, you will need to save the image in /boot/grub, remembering to save it in the .xpm.gz format.


Once you have your image created, the next step is to configure Grub. Open up the file /boot/grub/menu.lst and add the line:


Where splash is the name of the image you want to use and hd0,0 is your boot partition.

Save that file and the next time your boot your machine you will see your new splash image.


For Grub2 the images should follow these rules:

  • Size should be 640×480
  • Format should be .tga (The GIMP can do this)
  • Follow the same design tips as above.
  • Saved in /usr/share/images/grub/

When you have your image created and saved in the proper location, open up the file /etc/grub.d/05_debian_theme and look for the line:


You will want to change the explicit path of the image in the line above to the path of your new image. When you have that done, save the file, and issue the command:

sudo update-grub2

The above command will reveal numerous pieces of information, of which one should look like:

Found background image: imagename.tga

Where imagename.tga is the image you are using for your splash screen.

You are now ready to boot Ubuntu and see your special splash screen.

Final thoughts

No, it's not going to make you a better user, but it will allow you or your company to show your brand better, or for you to just make your PC all the more customized. Linux is good like that.


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  1. Colin Hall said on July 14, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Thanks for the advice Walt … It works for me.

  2. Walt said on October 18, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    I should have added that the PNG that I’m using is 1440×900 to match my widescreen display. No problem with it, no need to reduce it to basic 640×480 VGA and then have to see it distorted every time I boot.

  3. Walt said on October 18, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Is Mint that different from Ubuntu? In Mint 9 (based on Ubuntu 10.04) /boot/grub/grub.cfg expressly identifies /boot/grub/linuxmint.png as the default background image. All I did was rename that file linuxmintbak.png, copy in the PNG file I wanted, and rename it linuxmint.png.

  4. areader said on October 17, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Ya know… rather than just giving scary warnings about making your system unbootable, you should link to an article on rescuing an unbootable Linux with a Linux live CD or USB. I’m pretty sure you have written one!

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