Virtual console

Computer user interface / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dear Wikiwand AI, let's keep it short by simply answering these key questions:

Can you list the top facts and stats about Virtual console?

Summarize this article for a 10 years old


A virtual console (VC) – also known as a virtual terminal (VT) – is a conceptual combination of the keyboard and display for a computer user interface. It is a feature of some Unix-like operating systems such as Linux, BSD, illumos, UnixWare, and macOS in which the system console of the computer can be used to switch between multiple virtual consoles to access unrelated user interfaces. Virtual consoles date back at least to Xenix[1] and Concurrent CP/M in the 1980s.[2]

Virtual console showing Knoppix boot messages

In the Linux console and other platforms, usually the first six virtual consoles provide a text terminal with a login prompt to a Unix shell. The graphical X Window System traditionally starts in the seventh virtual console (tty7), although this is configuration dependent. In Linux, the user switches between them by pressing the Alt key combined with a function key – for example Alt + F1 to access the virtual console number 1. Alt + changes to the previous virtual console and Alt + to the next virtual console. To switch from the X Window System or a Wayland compositor, Ctrl + Alt + F1 works. (Note that users can redefine these default key combinations.)

If several sessions of the X Window System are required to run in parallel, such as in the case of fast user switching or when debugging X programs on a separate X server, each X session usually runs in a separate virtual console.