I have a bad keyboard on my laptop that I run Linux on. Function keys F1 and F7 and the Backspace key do not send keystrokes to the system. I have gotten used to pressing the left arrow, followed by DELETE in place of backspace, and I ignore F1 completely using the program menus to find options to make F1 unnecessary for me.

However, I'm having problems with F7. Alt-F7 should return me to the Xwindow environment after pressing Ctrl-Alt-F2 for a terminal window. It really bothers me that older linux systems used /etc/inittab to tell the system how many virtual terminals to start up and put the Xwindow after the last virtual terminal. With my jessie install I can't get the system to create a different number of virtual terminals.

I edited /etc/systemd/logind.conf uncommenting NAutoVTs=6 and ReserveVT=6, then changing the lines to read: NAutoVTs=7 ReserveVT=7

should have fixed the problem by moving the Xwindow to Alt-F8. After rebooting I discovered that this did not change anything. The Xwindow is still on VT7.

Next I tried editing /lib/systemd/system/getty.target.wants/getty-static.service. In the [Service] section I added getty@tty7.service to the end of the ExecStart= line. When I rebooted the system I discovered that I now have a virtual terminal on tty8, but the Xwindow is still being loaded on tty7. Is there any way I can get the Xwindow to move to tty8 without reinstalling the system and going back to the SysV init method?

I enjoy tampering with improvements on the system, but sometimes they puzzle me greatly and make me wish it was still the 1990's and X hadn't been invented yet.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!


2 Answers 2


For GDM, you can set the first free terminal device in the /etc/gdm/custom.conf file.

$ cat /etc/gdm/custom.conf
# GDM configuration storage
# See /usr/share/gdm/gdm.schemas for a list of available options.
# Reserving more VTs for test consoles (default is 7)
FirstVT = 8

After that, at least restart gdm, b, to be sure, just # reboot.

  • Adding custom.conf to /etc/gdm3/ with the following statements, then rebooting: resulted in a text vt on F8 with X still on F7. [daemon]. FirstVT = 8 unfortunately my phone keyboard won't let me put CR after lines.
    – RdGreenlaw
    Aug 3, 2017 at 2:20

I am not quite sure about whether you can choose the tty device, but a reconfiguration of the Xorg server may be helpful:

# dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

If it doesn't help, take a look at the Xorg configuration files, findable at:

$ find / -name xorg.conf -print 2>/dev/null

and check for helpful settings, or at least post some interesting sections, if any.

  • My system didn't seem to do anything with dpkg-reconfigure. Returned to the # with no messages. Find xorg.conf also doesn't display anything before returning to the # prompt.
    – RdGreenlaw
    Aug 2, 2017 at 1:59
  • What display manager (xdm, gdm, kdm, lightdm, …) do you use?
    – caylee
    Aug 2, 2017 at 5:57
  • I'm using gdm3.
    – RdGreenlaw
    Aug 2, 2017 at 12:24
  • Okay, then try my new answer
    – caylee
    Aug 2, 2017 at 21:57

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