How to boot without a graphical interface in Kali Linux

The console (command line) is available on any Linux distribution. But some advanced users can go further and initially boot into the text mode without a graphical desktop.

Benefits of working in text mode

You need to start with the fact that the text mode is suitable only for those who really understand why he needs it. Or understands why he does not need a graphical desktop environment. This mode is suitable only for advanced users.


  1. Faster booting
  2. Less resource consumption (for example, in the graphical interface without running applications, 793 megabytes of RAM are occupied, and in text mode, less than 100 megabytes of RAM are occupied)

Text Mode Disadvantages

  1. Unable to start GUI programs
  2. Unable to use video drivers
  3. Unable to open multiple consoles at the same time
  4. If you need to edit files, you need to be able to use console editors (vim, nano, etc.)
  5. VirtualBox Guest Add-Ons will not work

In general, this mode is only for those who really understand why they need it. Also, this mode may be needed to restore the system or fix problems. For web servers, text mode is standard.

There are at least 3 different options for booting into a text interface. They differ in whether the changes made remain after the reboot or disappear (it means, next time your will again boot into the text interface or in the graphical interface), as well as your capabilities in this mode.

Recovery mode

This mode is already on the menu. Moreover, if you boot into Recovery Mode, then upon a subsequent reboot, the graphical desktop environment will open (if you do not select Recovery Mode again).

When booting, select Advanced options for Kali GNU/Linux →

Then select Kali GNU/Linux, with Linux * (recovery mode).

The download will stop at the console stage and it will prompt to enter the root password, or press CTRL+d to continue. If you enter the root password, you will be booted into Kali Linux without a graphical interface. If you press CTRL+d, the download will continue and the graphical interface will open.

After logging in:

Single user mode

In single-user mode its peculiarity is that it is impossible to log in as any user other than root. But then you do not need to enter a password for root – for this reason this mode is usually used to restore a forgotten administrator password, but can also be used for other purposes of system recovery and maintenance.

To interrupt the loading of GRUB (the first step) during startup of the computer, press and hold the SHIFT key - it works always, even on Linux Mint, where by default the GRUB menu display is disabled.

Stop the booting by holding the SHIFT key while starting the computer, you will see:

Press the "e" key and you will proceed to edit the boot settings:

On the screen there is no necessary line for us, swipe the cursor keys down and find the line starting with linux:

Go to the end of this line, type a space and add:

single init=/bin/bash

It should look something like this (the kernel number may differ):

When everything is ready, press Ctrl+x or F10 to continue booting with the set options.

You will see a shell prompt, also note that we are logged in as root, i.e. we have superuser privileges, including the use of the passwd command:

Let us remount the file system:

mount -rw -o remount /

To exit, type:

umount /

and then power off the computer/reboot with the physical button.

After rebooting, you will automatically return to the graphical desktop.

Permanent switching to the text interface

With this option your operating system will automatically load into the console. A typical use case: you connect and work with your Linux system via SSH, that is, you do not need a graphical interface on the remote system anyway – it consumes resources, but you cannot take advantage of it. Therefore, you can switch to the text interface, just run the command:

sudo systemctl set-default

After the reboot, you will be taken to the text interface.

Login required:

After logging in, you can use Linux commands, but you will not be able to run GUI applications:

Are you missing the graphical interface and want to temporarily switch to it without rebooting? Nothing is simpler, just enter the command:

sudo systemctl start display-manager.service

Tired of text mode and want to once again permanently return to graphic? Just run the command:

sudo systemctl set-default

And after rebooting, you will again find yourself in the graphical desktop environment!

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