I am at the gnome 2 login screen but I want to exit and re-enter command-line environment. I remember there was a combination hot key one has to invoke.

  • On which operative system are you?
    – andcoz
    Oct 1 '11 at 22:05

Are you looking for Ctrl-Alt-F1 ?

This will switch to the first virtual console. Usually several virtual consoles are available from F1 up to F6. The 7th is usually the one used by the login screen, so you can switch back using Ctrl-Alt-F7 (or whatever is the relevant one).

  • on my ubuntu 20, f1 seems to belong to the login screen, so nothing happened when i pressed ctrl+alt+f1, ctrl+alt+f2 worked in my case
    – Klesun
    Oct 25 '20 at 15:27

Ctrl + Alt + F1 (there are also terminals on the following F-keys, for me up to F6).

To get back to the GUI, use F7 instead.

  • I actually tried that - I know what the problem is now. For some reason my keyboard is not active at the login screen...
    – ptrcao
    Oct 1 '11 at 21:53
  • "there are also terminals on the following F-keys" thank you, my fedora 28 is F3 Jul 5 '18 at 20:38

Press ctrl+alt+F1 to switch to a virtual console.

Login using your normal login and password.

Press ctrl+alt+F7 to return to your GUI at any time.

If you are doing something like installing NVIDA drivers, you may actually need to kill the login screen. In Ubuntu this is lightdm, though this may vary per distro.

# Stop login window service
sudo service lightdm stop

# Start it back up again
sudo service lightdm start

Note: I would have tried to summarize in a comment, but didn't have enough points.

  • Only useful on systems that run lightdm
    – PiedPiper
    Dec 8 '17 at 23:37
  • Good point. I'll update the answer.
    – jchook
    Dec 9 '17 at 3:50

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