Last week I selected a new GPU driver from the “Additional Drivers” list in Ubuntu 22.04. Big mistake. The system seemingly crashed and I was left with a blinking cursor on a black screen. Here is how I fixed it.

The situation

After selecting a different GPU driver 1, my system crashed to a black screen with a blinking cursor and eventually I hard-rebooted my system. GRUB worked, I could decrypt the SSD, but then nothing would happen, just a Ubuntu/Lenovo loading screen. No user selection and login screen. … and 50 minutes to fix it before the next meeting. Great.

Screenshot of the “Additional Drivers” program showing a list of possible proprietary Nvidia drivers

My solution

GRUB was still working, and I could get into the GRUB menu by pressing the ESC key repeatedly during the boot process. Probably because of one ESC key press to many, the GRUB menu was only displayed for a split second, before I was dropped into the GRUB console. But the command normal, followed by more ESC key presses, brought me back to the GRUB menu. [thx AskUbuntu]

In Recovery Mode, the first step after the decryption of the disk is to enable networking, so that we can download and install the additional drivers that Ubuntu actually recommends. Activating the networking requires the Ubuntu Recovery Mode to write to the disk, which is read-only by default at the start - just say yes to that. After networking is enabled, select the root console and run the commands apt update and ubuntu-drivers autoinstall.

That’s it. That’s what worked for me. Afterwards I was able to boot into normal Ubuntu again.

And made my meeting.

  1. Because an Electron/Chromium app has issues establishing a GPU channel. Updating the driver actually eventually fixed that problem. ↩︎