Ubuntu Server 12.04 “Cannot display this video mode”

I have been installing a new Ubuntu server on some old hardware at work this week (HP Proliant DL360 G4) to configure a Free-Radius server for our site-wide WiFi solution; however I fell at the first hurdle!

After installing Ubuntu as normal and rebooting the server, I was presented with a black screen displaying “Cannot display this video mode”. Very annoying!

So what I managed to do was to log in to the server by holding down “shift” straight after BIOS and before the OS tried to boot. This bought me into the GRUB Menu screen where I pressed “e” to edit the boot parameters of the kernel. I added:

“nomodeset vga=normal”

to the boot line and then pressed F10 to boot the machine.

My graphics now displayed and I was able to install SSH to ensure I could get access remotely!

Now I needed to add these boot options permanently into the GRUB menu. I ran

“sudo nano /etc/default/grub”

and edited the following lines:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX=”nomodeset vga=normal”


I then uncommented this line:


Saved the file and then ran:

sudo update-grub

Followed by:

sudo reboot now

My display then worked on the console, and as an added plus I also have full console access to my machine over the standard iLO1 without the need for an iLO Advanced Pack from HP!

Kudos to this bloke for pointing me in the right direction!

11 thoughts on “Ubuntu Server 12.04 “Cannot display this video mode”

  1. Hi

    I need to do this but need some help…

    I have installed ubuntu server with ssh installed

    I can use putty to get access to it.

    But when I boot with a monitor it says video mode not supported.

    your steps look interesting bout how exactly do i do this?

    1. Hi Bhavik,

      If you have SSH access then start at this step: “Now I needed to add these boot options permanently into the GRUB menu. I ran

      “sudo nano /etc/default/grub””

      and you should be OK to follow through the rest…


  2. Ta..
    if make sure OpenSSH server is selected on initial install then don’t need to “shift” into grub.

    HP ML 350 G4 c/w Ubuntu server 14.10

    1. That’s right Simn; if you already have SSH installed then you can make the edit from a remote SSH session without having to “shift into grub”.

  3. Thanks, this also works with lubuntu 14.04.3.
    I have a P4 with xp and wanted to dual boot with lubuntu. After installing, the “cannot display…” error showed and I coulnd select any of the OS. But pressing shift key just after the bios boot sequence and then enter i could enter to grub and make the changes on your tutorial. Everything work fine now. I forgot to mention i have sis6xx vga drivers on board

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