Starting Ubuntu 11.04 I have observed that Plymouth starts late in the boot process. Often you can only catch a glimpse of it before GDM/LightDM pops up. The same is true for Ubuntu 11.10. After a quick search on the Internet, I found out that Ubuntu 11.x versions appear to have gone away from the framebuffer technique that was used in earlier versions. Accessing the video memory directly through the framebuffer is an old technique. The newer way, supposedly, is to have Kernel Mode Setting (KMS) handle the graphics card and setup the display resolution early in the boot process to allow Plymouth to display correctly. One other reason for moving into KMS is to minimize screen flicker that is often observed when using the framebuffer technique.