I don't need 7 TTYs (or do I?). So how do I reduce this number to 3?

  • 2
    If there's anything to be gained by removing any of the TTYs (aka virtual terminals), it's probably not worth the time spent removing them. Lifehacker suggested removing extra TTYs to improve performance and this comment does a good job explaining why you won't notice the difference. Feb 25, 2011 at 0:14
  • However, no disrespect intended: I don't care if you want to remove TTYs; I just want people to know whether it really matters before they decide to change system files over the issue. Feb 25, 2011 at 0:24
  • Indeed, each one uses only like 4k of ram. No point bothering.
    – psusi
    Feb 25, 2011 at 14:27
  • 3
    The reason /I/ want less TTYs is that they take lines in my processes list. I want each process running on my server to have a purpose and these TTYs don't have any. Jan 4, 2013 at 17:47
  • 2
    @haziz this is not helpful without explanation...
    – ford04
    Jul 14, 2020 at 10:51

3 Answers 3


The way I recommend would be:

  1. Run: sudoedit /etc/default/console-setup Find the line that says: ACTIVE_CONSOLES="/dev/tty[1-6]"

  2. Change it to the amount of tty you want. For 3 you do: ACTIVE_CONSOLES="/dev/tty[1-3]"

  3. Save the file and go to /etc/init/: cd /etc/init/ then type ls to see the tty files.
    They should look like tty1.conf, tty2.conf, tty3.conf....

  4. Rename all the tty that you do not want. In your case you would rename the last 3 tty:

    sudo mv tty4.conf tty4.conf.bck
    sudo mv tty5.conf tty5.conf.bck
    sudo mv tty6.conf tty6.conf.bck

  5. Reboot and test

    • A couple of tips. Even if you eliminate the tty4-6 X will still be in CTRL+ALT+F7
    • tty4 to tty6 will appear blank (black, no blink login waiting)
  • Following my instructions, X now starts where tty4 was. Why bother editing /etc/default/console-setup? (1) It's unnecessary. (2) Won't it just get reset every update?
    – djeikyb
    Feb 24, 2011 at 22:58
  • @djeikyb - Yes it will get change on an X.org update but this is the correct way since leaving that file with the 6 tty will confuse X.org. From my side it has 6 tty, from the other it has 3 conf files. So it will be like "there is something wrong here". It might work ok but it i believe one should try to do it in a clean way for X.org sake. Feb 25, 2011 at 0:43
  • Okay, I see that console-setup depends on X stuff, so that makes sense. But doesn't X just attach to the nearest available slot (this is the behaviour I see)? Is there a log that would show the confusion? I'm not being argumentative, btw, just really curious, because I configured my box for less TTYs in a manner that flatly contradicts your answer. So much the better if I'm wrong, I'll get to learn more!
    – djeikyb
    Feb 25, 2011 at 9:02
  • 1
    Am guessing there has to be a log (Not know right now) but do not worry am also curious with the linux world and like people like you that are also curious. So keep it up friend. Don't change. Feb 25, 2011 at 14:50

You can delete/move the tty#.conf files in /etc/init that you don't want. I don't know why you'd want to do this, though.
This is on 10.04.

  • 4
    Because they're unnecessary. Because you can. Because ctl-alt-F4 to switch to the X server is easier than ctl-alt-F7.
    – djeikyb
    Feb 24, 2011 at 22:36

All I did was delete tty4 through tty6 from /etc/event.d, and tty4.conf through tty6.conf from /etc/init, and reboot. You may want to be more cautious, see below.

I don't know what the consequences are of having non-sequential tty's. Hopefully you just get a blank screen where X could hang itself. Ie, tty1, tty2, Xorg, tty4, tty5..

You can run the following commands to make the needed changes. Note nothing is deleted. If you need to revert, just move or copy the files back.

cd /etc/init
sudo mkdir tty.bkp
sudo mv tty4 tty5 tty6 tty.bkp
cd /etc/event.d
sudo mkdir tty.conf.bkp
sudo mv tty4.conf tty5.conf tty6.conf tty.conf.bkp

Reboot to test:

sudo reboot

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