38

I'm unable to return to the GUI with Ctrl-Alt-F7 (or any of the 12 function keys). I have some unsaved work and I don't want to lose them. Are there any other key combinations that will allow me to switch back?

Here is what I did:

  1. I pressed Ctrl-Alt-F1 and it showed a text-based login screen as usual
  2. Then I pressed Ctrl-Alt-F7 and it showed a screen full of text (I can't remember what they were)
  3. Then I pressed Ctrl-Alt-F8 and it showed log messages that resembles /var/log/messages. Some entries are from automount, some from sendmail, and none are errors.
  4. Pressing any of the Ctrl-Alt-Fn combinations now has no effect. The cap-lock and num-lock LED no longer respond to their corresponding keys. I can use the mouse to highlight the text on the screen, but nothing else.

Any idea what happened?

I can still login to the system via SSH. GUI applications that I was using (e.g. opera) are still running and consuming tiny amounts of CPU as usual, as reported by top. Is it possible to switch back to the GUI via the command line? If possible, I don't want to restart X, because doing so will kill all the GUI applications.

System info:

 Red Hat Enterprise Linux Client release 5.7
 Linux 2.6.18-238.12.1.el5 SMP x86_64
 gnome-desktop: 2.16.0-1.fc6
 xorg-x11-server-Xorg: 1.1.1-48.76.el5_7.5

Thanks to Shawn I was able to get back using chvt 9.

Further experiments shows that if I go to the 8th virtual terminal (either by Ctrl-Alt-F8 or chvt 8), I will not be able to switch to any other terminals using Ctrl-Alt-Fx keys. Now sure if this is a bug.

  • 1
    On a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B (what I am using): After you hit Ctrl+Alt+F1, it brought you to the command line. On mine, you can it Ctrl+Alt+F2 and it will take you to the Pi login. Just login and after that type startx, then you will be taken back to the desktop :) – user114432 May 7 '15 at 2:48
  • 1
    @user114432 In no system I've ever used has startx returned to an existing X session. It always starts a new session on a new console (or the same console, depending on the distro). And AFAIK there is no way to translocate a running client from one X session to another. – Braden Best Mar 11 '17 at 7:25
  • "...if I go to the 8th virtual terminal (either by Ctrl-Alt-F8 or chvt 8), I will not be able to switch to any other terminals using Ctrl-Alt-Fx keys." Not sure why chvt 8 would do this. But if you keep the Ctrl+Alt keys held down, after you get back into the graphical mode (aka. the GUI / X server), and press another F1-F12 function key, it will not work. You have to first release the Ctrl+Alt keys, and try again, to get out of the graphical mode. I assume this is because the graphical mode doesn't recognise that the keys were pushed down because it wasn't activated at that point in time? – Ben J May 28 at 3:58
36

chvt allows you to change your virtual terminal.

From man chvt:

The command chvt N makes /dev/ttyN the foreground terminal. (The corresponding screen is created if it did not exist yet. To get rid of unused VTs, use deallocvt(1).) The key combination (Ctrl-)LeftAlt-FN (with N in the range 1-12) usually has a similar effect.

  • 2
    Could he have used startx as well? Just wondering. – n0pe Oct 27 '11 at 5:50
  • 2
    @MaxMackie that should result in an error, since x server is already running. – isuldor Oct 27 '11 at 6:58
  • You also need to run this as root – geek1011 Nov 7 '16 at 2:16
  • 1
    You may not need to run this as root if you use gdm where it starts a root-less display session as the user. In that case tty2 appears to be allocated for the user with tty7 for the gdm owned login window. If you switch to tty7 you have to login again and then it will push you back over to tty2 automatically, or you can simply switch to tty2 yourself. – dragon788 Nov 21 '17 at 19:24
  • This definitely helped out. I'm not sure why Ctrl+Alt+F7 no longer works to get back to the GUI vt, like it always used to. Thanks for the answer that's helped me sort myself out. – Matt Setter Mar 21 '18 at 13:01
14

Use the w command to find out which tty your X session uses, so you won't need to guess which Fn to press.

  • Here w lists tty1, tty2 and tty3 while X is running on tty12. – manatwork Feb 22 '13 at 14:14
  • Exellect answer, just wordering. I go to console by pressing Ctrl-Alt-F1, see console tty1, unable to go back by the same combo. Use w, see I have 2 sessions tty1 and tty7, and return by pressing Ctrl-Alt-F7. Is It logical? Is It normal? – Dmitry Malugin Jan 23 '18 at 7:25
  • what if my TTY is 0? there is no F0 button – szx Feb 7 at 9:07
11

You can simply use Alt+F1 to return to your desktop.

  • 3
    In the TTY, C-A-F# and A-F# are equivalent. – HalosGhost Oct 26 '14 at 0:47
  • Yes. Surprise to me, after 20 years of X being on tty > 6 my current CentOS/KDM install uses tty1 – andrew lorien May 25 '18 at 1:10
2

You can use Alt+F6 to return to your desktop in Fedora 26 and possibly other Wayland based Linux flavors.

1

Toggle function-keys pressing "F-Lock" (german "F-Umsch")

Stumpling right into the same problem, I've found the reason for - at least - my problem: Using a ms natural 4000 keyboard sometimes requires to toggle the Function-keys pressing "F-Lock"-key located next to F12.

(Toggling the Function-Key's might help with that type of keyboard too if you don't get hardcopies etc...)

  • This is not the problem of the OP, thanks for the effort, though. – user79743 Jan 18 '16 at 1:38

protected by Community Jan 9 '18 at 20:39

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