I was just taught here that systemctl isolate multi-user.target is the modern way to unload the graphic shell, which was done by init 3 previously.

I see that init 3 still works in my system but it succeeds only once, likewise systemctl. When you run them once, then, it is fine -- the Gnome/KDE is unloaded and you can startx again. But, once you did that, initializing to level 3 does not work anymore. I am left at level 5, in KDE, at least in my Fedora-24. systemctl just hangs until I kill it with Ctrl+C. Why is that? Do you notice the same behaviour?

Yes, I run the go to multi-user command from the GUI terminal.

  • When run the command the second time, did you boot back into the graphical shell before running it again? Jun 30, 2016 at 14:05

2 Answers 2


You are in runlevel 5 or to be precise in graphical.target. You do runlevel 3 or systemctl isolate multiuser.target.

If you type startx you are still in runlevel 3 or multiuser.target, even if X is running, so systemctl isolate or runlevel 3 will not work.

  • According to unix.stackexchange.com/a/297835/9689 there is no multi-user.target , is it? Otherwise, could someone, please correct example with better target? Jul 31, 2016 at 15:46
  • 1
    @GrzegorzWierzowiecki check systemctl list-units and you will see if you have a multi-user target.
    – morxa
    Aug 6, 2016 at 10:09

From documentation, you can use set-default instead of isolate:

$ sudo systemctl set-default multi-user.target

Then reboot.

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