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Solaris Virtual Consoles

Solaris Virtual Consoles

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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.


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
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 Solaris 11, package pkg://solaris/system/virtual-console.
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.

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