Distros like Mandrive, Fedora, PCLinuxOS and of course Ubuntu show you a logo and an indicator of how the boot is going, on a colourful screen with a nice background image.
Here's an example from YouTube (with slightly comical messianic musical accompaniment).
I'm sure that new users of Linux would be more comfortable with a graphical boot. Even quite experienced users like me can't get much from it.
But Debian is first and foremost a stable distribution (graphical boots can be unreliable), and aimed more at experienced Linux users than "newbies", so a graphic boot is not a priority, or even disdained by some users.
I looked into the possibility of a graphical boot in Lenny some time ago, but it seemed to require a lot of hacking, which I'm not really into.
Something yesterday reminded me of the graphical boot program Plymouth, and upon checking, I found it in the Debian repository.
I installed it and rebooted- still the old text-based boot.
I really hate hacking Linux- because the solutions you find on the internet are often out of date and don't work any more, and trying different solutions designed for older packages or configuration settings can mess up a system. The beauty of Debian is, after all, stability.
However, I did manage to get Plymouth working. Here's how.
I came across this post on the Debian forum which says that if you're not using a propriety graphics card driver, all you need to do is install plymouth. OK, sounds promising, but didn't work for me.
Then I found the Debian Plymouth Wiki, which looked a bit off putting, but was simple enough to follow.
All I really needed to do was to edit my Grub configuration file and
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"[Update: going back and checking, it seems only the second step below was really necessary.]
And then update Grub using this command as root:
update-grub2Upon rebooting, I had a graphical boot screen (and the change to the screen resolution setting had fixed a problem with the Grub background image!)
There doesn't seem to be a GUI for selecting and previewing Plymouth themes in Debian (located in /usr/share/plymouth/themes). The Wiki link above gives the command line method of changing themes. Probably the best way to preview themes is to look on YouTube: there seems to be a video for just about every theme on every major distro.
[Update: Ubuntu users have a nice GUI available. See this YouTube demonstration.
I found a useful command to preview Plymouth themes in the readme file of the theme below.]
It's easy to install new themes too. I ended up using this simple dark theme from opendesktop.org.