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OPENVT(1) Linux 1.x OPENVT(1)


openvt – start a program on a new virtual terminal (VT).


openvt [-c vtnumber] [OPTIONS] [–] command


openvt will find the first available VT, and run on it the given com‐
mand with the given command options, standard input, output and error
are directed to that terminal. The current search path ($PATH) is used
to find the requested command. If no command is specified then the
environment variable $SHELL is used.


-c, –console=VTNUMBER
Use the given VT number and not the first available. Note you
must have write access to the supplied VT for this to work;

-f, –force
Force opening a VT without checking whether it is already in

-e, –exec
Directly execute the given command, without forking. This
option is meant for use in /etc/inittab. If you want to use
this feature in another context, be aware that openvt has to be
a session leader in order for -e to work. See setsid or set‐
sid on how to achieve this.

-s, –switch
Switch to the new VT when starting the command. The VT of the
new command will be made the new current VT;

-u, –user
Figure out the owner of the current VT, and run login as that
user. Suitable to be called by init. Shouldn’t be used with -c
or -l;

-l, –login
Make the command a login shell. A – is prepended to the name of
the command to be executed;

-v, –verbose
Be a bit more verbose;

-w, –wait
wait for command to complete. If -w and -s are used together
then openvt will switch back to the controlling terminal when
the command completes;

-V, –version
print program version and exit;

-h, –help
show this text and exit.

— end of options to openvt.

If openvt is compiled with a getopt_long() and you wish to set options
to the command to be run, then you must supply the end of options —
flag before the command.

openvt can be used to start a shell on the next free VT, by using the

openvt bash

To start the shell as a login shell, use:

openvt -l bash

To get a long listing you must supply the — separator:

openvt — ls -l

Earlier, openvt was called open. It was written by Jon Tombs
. The -w idea is from “sam”.


chvt, doshell(8), login

19 Jul 1996 V1.4 OPENVT(1)