Ubuntu – Why so many Virtual consoles


What is the reason for having so many virtual consoles?

I would understand if there was one in case the GUI crashes but 6 more besides the default? What are they for? I even see no usage for any of them except when the GUI freezes.

Best Answer

Short answer: why not? (implied smile, please)

More lengthy one: it is mostly a history thing, I suppose. There were 6 virtual consoles configured with getty in the first linux I booted with VC support, I really forgot when (it was around 1990, I think). Then when you started the graphical environment (by hand, with startx) it opened itself on the first free VC, which happened to be #7. And I still did most of my work on VCs at the time: the editors were much faster and sometime I used more VCs than the standard six, and my laptop was not exactly a graphic monster...

For example, I used to run three editors (a program, its input data, a TeX file describing it), one VC for compiling, another to read a manual, and another one connected via telnet to my mail server.

I suspect that the rationale for still using six virtual consoles is to let the graphic VC on #7 for everyone, so you can write on manuals "Ctrl-Alt-F7" and not "Ctrl-Alt-Fx where x is the first free VC".

As a side note, you can (I suppose --- never tried) trim down the VCs. Simply do

sudo bash -c "echo 'manual' >> /etc/init/tty6.override"

to stop VC#6, following the upstart manual.