Solaris Virtual Consoles

Solaris Virtual Consoles

Virtual Console on Solaris Virtual consoles (or virtual terminals) is a feature where you can run multiple virtual terminals on the console. It's a handy feature to have for recovery if your X Window GUI console freezes or is otherwise unavailable.

Virtual console has been available on Linux, FreeBSD, and most UNIX-class systems supporting X Windows, but not recently on Solaris. This sorely-missed feature used to be available in Solaris/x86 2.3. In Solaris/x86 2.4, they were no longer configured (1994), and in Solaris/x86 8 the functionality was removed (1998). It's now back in Oracle Solaris Express 2010.11. However, it's not enabled by default, at least yet.

Enabling

Here's a script to enable virtual consoles (run as root):

#! /bin/ksh
svcadm enable vtdaemon
for i in 2 3 4 5 6 ; do
    svcadm enable console-login:vt$i
done
svccfg -s vtdaemon setprop options/secure=false # <-Omit if you want auto screen locking    
svccfg -s vtdaemon setprop options/hotkeys=true
svcadm refresh vtdaemon; svcadm restart vtdaemon

You can now switch to virtual terminals with cntl-alt-F1 to cntl-alt-F6. Use cntl-alt-F7 to switch to the X Window GUI. For best functionality, log out and log back in X Windows, if X is running. If you want an automatic X screen lock when switching to a virtual terminal (most won't), skip the line above containing "secure=false".

Availability and further information

Virtual consoles are available in Solaris Express 2010.11 for x86/x64 (build snv_151a, or earlier builds starting with snv-124). It isn't available in Solaris 10 or 9 and never has been available on Solaris SPARC.

For more information, see the vt(7I) man page and http://hub.opensolaris.org/bin/view/Project+vconsole/

Disclaimer: the statements in this blog are my personal views, not that of my employer.

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Comments:

Cool! Thanks for the heads up.

Posted by Michael Ernest on December 10, 2010 at 08:28 AM PST #

Thanks. I've used this before on other UNIXs. I had it almost working but your line about hotkeys=true was the last roadblock.

Posted by Ron Marshall on December 21, 2010 at 03:50 AM PST #

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