Linux Console – Virtual Terminal & Terminal Windows

There are several Linux terms that are the same or similar. And this “Linux Concepts & Terms Summary” article describes several terms that are the same – and others that are related.

Linux Terms: Linux Console, Linux Terminal and Linux Terminal Emulation Windows

First, You Need to Know About Linux Systems – With and Without Linux Desktops

You can install a Linux system with a desktop and this gives you a point-and-click working environment with icons and menus, like a Windows desktop – but much better!

Or you can install a Linux system without a desktop.

Linux tips: Linux servers are very often installed without a Linux desktop because a desktop is not required on some servers.

Linux Console and Linux Terminal

When you boot a Linux system without a desktop you see a black screen with a Login: prompt. This is commonly referred to as a Linux console.

At this point, you can log in as a Linux user and the Linux command line prompt appears. At this prompt, you can run Linux commands and Linux software programs.

A Linux console is also referred to as a Linux terminal.

Linux Terminal (Emulation) Windows

When you boot a Linux system that has a desktop installed, you boot to a GUI login prompt and log in to the Linux desktop.

At the Linux desktop, you can do some steps to open a terminal window on the desktop. A Linux terminal window is also know as a terminal “emulation” window. This window “emulates” a Linux terminal (a.k.a. console).

When you open a terminal emulation window, the Linux command line prompt appears and you can run Linux commands and Linux software programs.

Linux Tips: You can open multiple terminal emulation windows and hold down the Alt key and press the Tab key to move from one window to another.

Linux Virtual Terminal

From the Linux desktop, you can go to a Linux virtual terminal (a.k.a “vt”), that “emulates” the Linux terminal (a.k.a. console) that appears when you boot a Linux system that doesn’t have a desktop.

There are often six virtual terminals available and you press Ctrl+Alt+Fx to go to a virtual terminal. Replace the x in Fx with the number of a function key on your keyboard.

For example, to go from the Linux desktop to virtual terminal 1, hold down Ctrl and Alt and press F1 (and hope you don’t get a cramp). To go to vt 2, just press F2 instead of F1.

Linux Tips: You can’t access the virtual terminals from within some Linux virtual machines.

Imagine watching a Linux video tutorial that shows you all the steps described above, so you can easily learn how to work with all the different types of Linux terminals. Then pausing the video so you can try these steps yourself!

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