To be clear, I am not referring to /etc/issue (shown before the prompt) or /etc/motd (shown after login), but the prompt itself, which is currently

hostname login:

For good measure, I am running Arch Linux, but I believe the answer will likely be cross-distro.


My background is RHEL-derived distributions (mainly Fedora, today), Arch is foreign to me.

Back when /etc/inittab and mgetty where used by RHEL, you could edit /etc/inittab and pass the -p option to mgetty. This would set the prompt.

Now with the adoption of systemd /etc/inittab is empty. The tty configuration file is now /lib/systemd/system/getty\@.service. This file seems to use agetty instead of mgetty to manage the tty. agetty man page doesn't show the -p option, but you could reinstall mgetty and use it. Or you could use the -n (no prompt) option with the -l (specify a login program) option and write a wrapper to /bin/login with your own prompt.

Now, I don't know how to set this up on Arch, but you have to find out where it manages its ttys (/etc/inittab is the first place you have to look), then see with the tty program how to roll your own custom prompt.

  • 2
    Aha! Thank you, this is getting me on the right track. I've discovered that Arch uses agetty, and found the invocation inside /etc/inittab. Unfortunately, agetty does not seem to have an option to change the prompt. (Oh I just reread your answer, you said that for me haha). It seems like your ideas are the best possible options. Thank you! – nona Jul 18 '11 at 1:05

Create a systemd service file in /etc/systemd/system/ to run a one line bash script with "chvt N" in it.

For details, see my post: https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=231082

Worked well for me. I'm thinking there has to be a setting for this that could be edited or whatever, but after several hours, I gave up looking for it. The versatility and configuration options of systemd seem awesome. Now if I could just figure out how to find/use them properly.

EDIT TO ADD INFO (Oct 28th 2017):

Also for details on how to do this, see: systemd - Change default login tty

Please correct errors or explain simpler solutions via posting, rather that just down voting or pointing out errors.

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