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Changing to and from a Graphical Login

Linux™ supports two different display styles, textual and graphical. The textual display is the traditional UNIX™ user interface. The graphical display uses the X Window System to provide a look and feel that is more familiar to most newer computer users. This technical note describes how you can change the settings on your Linux system to use whichever one you prefer as a default.

Linux systems tend to use configuration files to control how the system behaves. The vast majority of configuration files can be found in the /etc directory or in a subdirectory someplace below it.

The configuration file that controls the type of login is /etc/inittab.

Before getting to the specifics of what to change some background explanation will probably be helpful for those not familiar with how Linux systems work. They are building on the traditional UNIX concept of run levels. A run level provides a given amount of functionality by controlling which programs are running when the system is at that particular run level. A run level is designated by a number. The values and meanings of the run levels are:

    0Shutdown the System
    1Single User, used by System Administrators
    2Multi-User, without Networking
    4Normally unused
    5Multi-User with X Windows
    6Reboot the System

You can specify which run level the system will go to when it starts up. From the above table you can see that if the system stops at run level 3 then it will be in textual login mode because the graphical X Window System is not running. To get a graphical login you need to go all the way up to run level 5.

In order to specify the desired run level you will need to edit the inittab file. To change from a textual login to a graphical login change this line:


to look like this line:


To change from a graphical login to a textual login just do the opposite (change the 5 to a 3).

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