A terminal emulator is a program/process running in the GUI of an OS.

A linux kernel offers 7 virtual consoles. Is a virtual console also a process running on the OS kernel?

2 Answers 2


No. Linux's virtual consoles are implemented entirely in kernel code. There is no process nor kernel thread associated with them. Code related to the console runs either in the context of the interrupt handlers if triggered by a hardware event (e.g. key press), or in the kernel context associated with a process if triggered by a process (e.g. an output).


Linux offers a lot more than 7 virtual consoles (see this question). 6 is just typically the number of gettys that spawn by default (pre-configured by your distribution), and then TTY 7 is commonly used for X.

Each getty is a process yes, but the getty just controls the login, and then hands off control to the shell. However the actual act of providing the terminal is not a process, but is instead managed by the kernel.

There is a good article on the subject here, but the key component is exemplified by this image: Virtual TTY

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