Single user mode (init 1, init S) is sometimes necessary but inconvenient. By default, you only get one console. Why not have tty2 (or any other tty) available to use with the console Alt-Function keys?
On the old SCO systems, I could just do "init 4" and that would enable all the virtual consoles. Linux systems don't provide this capability so directly, but it's easy enough to get what you want.
Newer Ubuntu systems use "Upstart" instead of inittab. For these systems, a simple"start tty2" will do the job. After typing that, you can hold "Alt" and press F2 to login there and of course Alt-F1 will bring you back to where you started.
Centos and other systems that still use inittab require a different approach. You'd think you could just do "/sbin/mingetty tty2 &", but that won't work. Nor will "/bin/login tty2 &" or trying to start bash with input and output directed to another tty. What WILL work is sulogin: "/sbin/sulogin tty2 &". Switch to Alt-F2, give the root password and you have another terminal to work in.
It's certainly possible that another distro may require another way or may work with something that didn't work on Centos.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2012-09-16 Anthony Lawrence