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I keep hearing about these things known as tty's.

  • what are they

  • how can I access them

  • what do they do?

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Here is the link that should answer your question: – Wojciech Oct 14 '11 at 14:37
up vote 27 down vote accepted

tty is one of those funky Unix commands that prints (or, displays) to standard output the name of the terminal connected to standard input.

These are commonly used as a way to get access to the computer to fix things, without actually logging into a possibly b0rked desktop.

Related: What is tty7 in the commandline?

By default Ubuntu has 7 tty's.

1-6 are command line only, 7 runs your X session (your normal desktop).

To access them, use this keyboard shortcut:

Ctrl + Alt + F1

(changing F1 to F1-F6 to access the terminal that you want)

To get back to your X session (the normal desktop),

Ctrl + Alt + F7

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Sir you have mentioned " to F1-F6 to access the terminal that you need" , how they are different and how to use them as per to need ,what kind of need is supported to which terminal. I dont know if it is the right place but your question and answer pointed it for me. – Sushantp606 Nov 30 '13 at 12:40
actually, if you are not in an X session, you can type just Alt+F7, you don't need the Ctrl. – fonini Dec 27 '14 at 4:19

You can change the displayed TTY by commmand line with chvt (requires sudo privileges), from SSH for example. Here is the relevant part of the manpage (man chvt):



chvt - change foreground virtual terminal


chvt N


The command chvt N makes /dev/ttyN the foreground terminal. (The corresponding screen is created if it did not exist yet. To get rid of unused VTs, use deallocvt) The key combination (Ctrl-)LeftAlt-FN (with N in the range 1-12) usually has a similar effect.

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