I am trying to run two monitors using two graphic cards. The first monitor is used for TTY, the second monitor is used to launch xserver. When I launch xserver, I still have my other screen showing TTY, but xserver picks up my keyboard inputs. When I need to switch to terminal, I press CTRL + ALT + F1 and then my first screen running TTY starts to receieve my keyboard commands again. The problem is when I switch to TTY, my monitor running xserver goes blank, and it doesn't wake up until I press CTRL F7 to go back to xserver. What I need to do is keep the xserver outputting to its monitor even when I switch to TTY. That way I can read what I have on the screen as I type things into my TTY console. I've searched everywhere and cannot find a solution. My question is "what causes xserver output to go blank when switching to tty console" because my goal is to stop xserver output from going blank when I switch to TTY console.

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    Very briefly (somewhere here is a similar question with more details): All programs you run from a VT are bound to the current VT (that includes X), and will be suspended when you switch VTs. If you want to keep your X server running while switching VTs, don't bind it to a VT when starting it.
    – dirkt
    Aug 30, 2018 at 6:51
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    If you are using systemd, you might investigate its concept of seats (about which I know nothing more) to see if it offers something new. Each graphics card can provide a seat. loginctl can attach devices to seats. I don't know if it can dynamically move a keyboard between active seats though. There is a kmscon command that talks of seats and VTs.
    – meuh
    Aug 30, 2018 at 9:18

1 Answer 1


This isn't an answer to your specific question per-se, but at least based on the text of your question, might (?) be a practical solution to the same problem. I do this often myself on a dual-screen setup.

Depending on your configuration, you could run your xserver in dual monitor mode (e.g. Nvidia xinerama mode), then move a GUI terminal to your "TTY" screen, make it full-screen, and then hide the window decoration and menu. (Which can easily be done in xfce4-terminal for example.) It would look nearly identical (save for the scrollbar). Plus you'd have mouse input, be able to copy & paste, and not have to physically switch screen TTYs.

I realize there may be other details in your requirements not mentioned in the question, which could obviate this as a workable answer.

Another thing I've done in the past (for different reasons), is run Linux in a VM (on Linux), and run a full-screen, "true" TTY. You can even SSH into the host OS (even via bare-bones minimal VM), and there you go--a "native", kinda, text-mode TTY.

  • I also do this, and its easy to get full screen window for me because I use xmonad. But the difference is a real TTY console has much crispier colors than an X11 server console.
    – OB7DEV
    Aug 30, 2018 at 4:58
  • I see. So then what do you think of the virtual machine idea? I've done that and it works well. (Actually I do it every day on more than one machine, as my default working environment, a little differently. The host is usually [not always] Windows, and the guest is usually Xubuntu. But occasionally I'll do straight VT on the VM, particularly for lightweight ZFS hosting. I don't think it picks up the virtual-virtual-terminal's screen dimensions, but I believe that can be forced in grub.) That could in high likelihood get exactly what it sounds like you're looking for.
    – Jim
    Aug 31, 2018 at 9:03
  • Oh and you'd have to SSH back into the VM host to complete the solution.
    – Jim
    Aug 31, 2018 at 9:04
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    Another thing I've noticied is some GFX cards have more crispy console than others. I'm using a vega frontier card and it is way crispier for console work than my 1080ti. The TTY colors seem brighter than X11, like they stand out more.
    – OB7DEV
    Sep 3, 2018 at 23:19
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    Interesting. I wonder if that has something to do with combination of card, monitor, and assumed colorspaces. For example, I use a high-end Dell monitor, supports 10-bit color, etc. Nvidia 1070. But OS colorspace mapping, including Windows 10, is a mess. No matter what I try, I can't set a colorspace where all apps have realistic colors. Chrome browser showing sRGB colors, for example, seem impossibly bright and vibrant. But photos look cartoonish. On low-end Dell monitor on same card, they are fine (much duller but realistic). Who knows how that stuff works. :-D
    – Jim
    Sep 5, 2018 at 1:41

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