When some says there are 7 virtual consoles in Linux, in what sense do
they mean? Do they mean there are only 7 accessible by key shortcuts?
In the sense that they are spawned / readily available. It was configured in
/etc/inittab, by spawning several (a)gettys in a multiuser runlevel.
For once I cite pideins (
getty.target sends me there):
By default this automatic spawning is done for the VTs up to VT6 only
(in order to be close to the traditional default configuration of
One VT is often used for GUI - may count or not.
systemd does it more subtle, but the result is quite the same. An orthogonal feeling, especially when you use the arrow keys to flip through the ttys.
chvt 20 puts me on a blank "terminal" (default systemd) -- it needs some getty to activate it first. Then you address it like that, or turn your Fn keys into an organ. Or use Alt-arrow.
Is a virtual console running as a process
In a way yes. It needs a
getty process to open a ttyX.
6314 tty2 Ss+ 0:00 /sbin/agetty -o -p -- \u --noclear tty2 linux
6316 tty3 Ss+ 0:00 /sbin/agetty -o -p -- \u --noclear tty3 linux
7408 tty5 Ss+ 0:00 /sbin/agetty -o -p -- \u --noclear tty5 linux
7453 pts/1 S+ 0:00 grep getty