English pages are provided only to compare translations to original pages,
better looking pages can be browsed
at the Linux man-pages official site.
Linux Programmer's Manual (4)
console - console terminal and virtual consoles
A Linux system has up to 63
(character devices with major number 4 and minor number 1 to 63),
with 1 ≤
The current console is also addressed by
the character device with
major number 4 and minor number 0.
The device files
are usually created using the script MAKEDEV,
usually with mode 0622 and owner
Before kernel version 1.1.54 the number of virtual consoles was
compiled into the kernel (in
#define NR_CONSOLES 8)
and could be changed by editing and recompiling.
Since version 1.1.54 virtual consoles are created on the fly,
as soon as they are needed.
Common ways to start a process on a console are:
to start a
on the console;
to start a process on the console;
(c) start X---it will find the first unused console,
and display its output there.
(There is also the ancient
Common ways to switch consoles are: (a) use Alt+Fn or
Ctrl+Alt+Fn to switch to console
might bring you to console n+12 [here Alt and AltGr refer
to the left and right Alt keys, respectively];
(b) use Alt+RightArrow or Alt+LeftArrow to cycle through
the presently allocated consoles; (c) use the program
(The key mapping is user settable, see
the above mentioned key combinations are according to the default settings.)
will free the memory taken by the screen buffers for consoles
that no longer have any associated process.
Consoles carry a lot of state.
I hope to document that some other time.
The most important fact is that the consoles simulate vt100 terminals.
In particular, a console is reset to the initial state by printing the two
characters ESC c.
All escape sequences can be found in
This page is part of release 3.66 of the Linux
A description of the project,
information about reporting bugs,
and the latest version of this page,
can be found at
- SEE ALSO
This document was created by
using the manual pages.
Time: 21:43:03 GMT, July 12, 2014