So I’ve been a windows user for about 11 years now. And regularly use Linux (Ubuntu) to handle some of my technical tasks, which happily runs on a really old laptop. I recently decided to upgrade to Windows 8 and dual-boot Ubuntu to avoid having to carry additional hardware. I was quite surprised as to how simple the process actually was.

I’m not going to get into the installation details, but I installed Windows 8 first and then popped in a Live USB of the latest version of Ubuntu (14.04.1 as of this writing) and everything went on without a hiccup.

By default GRUB (a multi-OS boot loader which gets installed with Ubuntu) boots Ubuntu if no user input is detected for 10 seconds. This is where I had problems, I use Windows to perform my daily computing tasks (partly because some of the programs I use do not have Linux alternatives) and the primary reason I upgraded to Windows 8 was because of the fast boot times, so slowing down the boot time by 10 seconds and requiring me to manually select the windows OS every time I turn on my machine was a big no-no.

This article is written to help you change the default GRUB settings by introducing a tool that you can use to carry out the changes you desire and also showing you where the configuration file is stored.

The recommended way to proceed is to download a piece of free software called “Grub Customizer”. To do so we are going to go use the Ubuntu Software Center. (Please carry out the following using Ubuntu)

1. Launch Dash, by hitting the “super key” (“windows key” on a windows keyboard).

2. Type in “ubuntu software center” and launch the application.

Ubuntu software center

3. In the search box (top right corner), type in “grub customizer”. You will see the application listed.

4. Select Grub Customizer and hit the install button towards the far right. You may be asked to authenticate the install, just type in your password. The progress bar will indicated the progress of the install. Once complete you will have a green check-mark on the grub customizer icon indicating that the program is successfully installed.

Grub customizer search install

Once installed, it should look like the screen below.

Grub customizer installed

5. Head back to the Dash and type in “grub customizer” and run the application. You may need to authenticate this again.

6. You will be greeted with the “List configuration” tab which lists the possible boot options you have on your current system. Notice Ubuntu is at #1 (default) and Windows 8 is listed among the last options.

Grub customizer list configurations

7. Head over to the “General settings” tab. You need to change the two options which are highlighted. Change “default entry” to suite your needs, in my case it was Entry 5 (Windows 8) and also change the default wait time to what you want, I stuck with 2 seconds since it gives me enough of time to boot to Ubuntu when I need to, while not excessively slowing down my default Windows boot.

8. Once done hit the save button and the application will update the configuration to reflect your new settings. Restart your machine and see the changes take effect.

Note: default entry drop down list mentions the boot option next to the entry number. Alternatively you can have a look at the tree structure in the “List configuration” tab to get the position number. For me entry 1 was Ubuntu, and entry 5 was Windows 8.

Grub customizer general settings

The following screen contains the changes which were made.

Grub customizer general settings final

Where are the settings stored you ask? Read further to find out.


If you've previously worked with software you will know that most of the times the configurations for an application are stored in something called a “configuration file”. Grub has a file called “grub.cfg” located in “Computer/boot/grub” folder.

If you open this file (right click and select “open with gedit”), you will notice it has a lot of content and a header which says “DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE” and that's exactly what we are going to do. The reason I've mentioned this is to show you where the configuration is stored and if you examine the file, you can see things like default “timeout” and “entry” mentioned.

So that was it, my very first article here on InfoBarrel, hope this helped you understand a bit more of how Linux works and selects the OS to boot from.

Please leave your comments, feedback and suggestions.