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I have rented a dedicated server, running Debian stable. Is the startup output that you would see on the screen (if you had one) stored anywhere? If not, is there a non-intrusive way to make that data available after the next reboot? Or how else do you make sure that the system boots up cleanly?

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enable bootlogd, which is part of sysvinit-utils by setting BOOTLOGD_ENABLE=Yes in /etc/default/bootlogd which will log in /var/log/boot. In wheezy and beyond bootlogd is in its own package and will not have /etc/default/bootlogd

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