I'm doing an install via testdrive using QEMU/KVM and I would like to check the log files during the installation, however I can't figure out a way to send Ctrl-Alt-F1 and other F keys to the virtualized window (It instead goes to the TTY on the host machine).

Ctrl-Alt-1 through 4 send me to some kind of QEMU consoles (the installer is on one, then there are qemu consoles and one serial and one parallel, so I think I'm getting close.


3 Answers 3


sendkey can be used to send keys to the virtual system that your host intercepts at low level - such as Ctrl + Alt + F*.

  1. Use Ctrl + Alt + 2 to switch to the QEMU console.
  2. Type sendkey ctrl-alt-f1 and press Enter.
  3. Use Ctrl + Alt + 1 to switch back to the virtual system, which should now by at TTY1.

Once at a virtual terminal, you should be able to use the chvt command, e.g. sudo chvt 7 to go back to your X session.

  • +1, it works if you don't set -monitor stdio (as do aqemu GUI by default)
    – enzotib
    Jul 28, 2011 at 20:00
  • When I do Ctrl-Alt-2 to switch to the QEMU console, I see grey-on-blue text saying "parallel0 console". None of my further keypresses seem to do anything; or if they do, they don't echo. Certainly finishing with a newline/enter has no effect at all. Am I missing something?
    – J-P
    Feb 13, 2013 at 20:05
  • For some reason it doesn't work when QEMU is running under Gnome Boxes.
    – Hi-Angel
    Feb 23 at 17:45

You can change tty in the guest os running on qemu with ALT + left or right arrows on the keypad.


You can try using sticky keys: Press the first key three times to "stick" it to the "virtualized window" followed by the other keys e.g. CTRL+CTRL+CTRL+ALT+F1.

This should send the command to the virtual machine instead of the host machine "hijacking" it.

  • Could not get his working in QEMU 2 Ubuntu 14.04. Can you link to the docs? Oct 25, 2015 at 18:29
  • 1
    Doesn't work for me on qemu 2.8.1 on Debian. May 24, 2017 at 20:17

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