Why is the default virtual terminal in ubuntu tty7? is there any sort of precedent for this, or was that just the number that first came to mind?


It's not really anything special, and it's not like anyone person said: "YES! TTY7 will forever be the starting point".

Typically when you boot init (upstart) will reserve the first 6 TTYs for text terminals - which leaves the next unallocated TTY, 7, for whatever comes next. Henceforth TTY7 is used when X actually starts. This can be changed to suite your liking in upstart by limiting or increasing the numbers of text TTYs that upstart reserves.

However, it's typically best to just leave the configuration as is.

  • 2
    Ttys 2–6 aren't actually used for anything during the boot process. Under the default setup, text mode login prompts (getty) show up on ttys 1–6, and a graphic mode login prompt (?dm) shows up on the next available tty, which is tty7. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Feb 24 '11 at 21:19
  • @Gilles Sorry that wasn't make more obvious in my answer. – Marco Ceppi Feb 25 '11 at 20:14
  • Besides you would not want to have your desktop on tty 6 (bad luck). Better yo have it in 7 (good luck charm) ;) – Luis Alvarado Mar 22 '11 at 23:13
  • getty on tty1-tty6 goes back to at least SLS. Anyone remember what MCC Interim did? – geekosaur Mar 22 '11 at 23:40

The first six consoles are text consoles, and X uses the first unallocated console. The number of text consoles is entirely arbitrary, but I remember it being default in Debian 1.2 (rex), so it is unlikely anyone still remembers the reason.

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    Debian took it from Slackware. I don't remember (indeed never knew) why Slackware (or maybe SLS before it) decided on 6 ttys. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Feb 24 '11 at 21:20

The other virtual terminals are still there.

Use Ctrl+Alt+F1 to switch to /dev/tty1 and cycle up the Function keys to get through the other virtual terminals and finally back to your desktop environment.

Marco Ceppi is incorrect; the terminals are not used/wasted during the boot-up process.

  • I don't see why Marcos answer would be incorrect as he never states that the other terminals disappear. – Octavian A. Damiean Feb 24 '11 at 17:30
  • Sorry I wasn't that clear. He claims the terminals are used during the booting process - which is incorrect. – SuperBOB Feb 24 '11 at 17:32
  • Up voting as I think the number of down votes was a bit harsh. Anyways, in the future, something like this would be better left as a comment to the Marco's answer since it doesn't directly answer the original question. – andrewsomething Feb 26 '11 at 5:45

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