I have an old, esoteric piece of special-purpose hardware (it's a HP logic analyser system). It's running HP-UX (because OLD).

Right now, it boots right into an X session with the special logic-analyser software running.

I'd like to get to a terminal prompt, so I can poke around with the internals (out of curiosity).

Given that this is basically a PC with some specialty hardware, what are the ways you can break out of a mildly locked-down X-session? I do have hardware access to the machine, but I'd like to avoid having to pull the disk or make boot-floppies for the thing (I don't have any other devices with floppy drives!).

  • 2
    Based on my experience with HP lab equipment (and sorry to say HP-UX) I highly doubt it. Even though it's got unix under the hood, they liked to make their devices turnkey and hid the OS so it would act like a toaster. You might find some RS-232 pins on the motherboard for diagnostic purposes which just might get you a console. Happy hunting.
    – msw
    Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 5:08
  • @msw - It boots verbosely, and it uses a plain-old keybard and mouse. Also, there is a filesystem browser. It seems like it would be pretty hard to expose all that and not have some way to get to a terminal.
    – Fake Name
    Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 5:58
  • have you tried searching the filesystem for xterm or terminal or similar?
    – cas
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 3:15
  • @cas - I can find sh and csh, but the file manager doesn't have any way of executing the binaries.
    – Fake Name
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 3:38
  • Can it copy or move files? You could replace some other binary with copy of xterm and then find a way to run it... (inspired by "copy cmd.exe to sethc.exe" hack) Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 21:03

1 Answer 1


If you are looking at an HP-UX CDE VUE Desktop here is what you would do:

  1. Hold Right click on a blank desktop space using your ancient HIL pointing device
  2. Select "New Window"
  3. Release the right clicker

This brings up a blank terminal window logged in as the current user.


From the File Manager use the File menu and select Open Terminal


In the Application Manager under Desktop tools:

Select any of the following:

  • Hpterm
  • Terminal Console
  • Xterm

(Each terminal has slight differences. The custom HPTerm has some more modern features.)

If all that fails:

No matter how locked down the Desktop is, it's still a Unix computer. You can boot in to single user mode by interrupting the boot cycle.

When you first see video you need to tap ESC to interupt the boot cycle. This brings up the ISL prompt.

Enter HPUX -is at the ISL prompt to tell it to boot HPUX in single user mode.

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