The console in Linux is the text-based mode of Linux that is devoid of the graphical user interface (GUI). It is usually characterized by its black background with text of white, red or green (or a combination of all). For the uninitiated (yeah…lol) or newbie Linux user this is a very scary image to behold, and so usually scare such half-hearted ones away from Linux all together (especially when the opinion is still high that Linux is a geeky operating system made of only texts and commands for computer wizards).
But the virtual consoles, which is also known as virtual terminals, are not short of the full OS capabilities, in fact it aids in performing many operations. Ability to use virtual consoles in Linux is a necessity for system admins who probably are working on servers/workstations in large organizations – especially when the GUI is not present or installed, which mostly the case. Linux makes it possible for you to be able to start multiple sessions, when you are working on the system so as to maximize the use of time and the server resources as a Linux power user. And there is need to use several important several interactive programs simultaneously. For instance you want are downloading a file from the internet that is very large, while waiting you can you can jump to a new virtual console to use your text editor to write a C or Java app. Later you can jump back to the former console to check if your download is finished. Cool right? There are six of these virtual consoles to choose from.
If you’re logged in with the GUI mode, which is mostly the case, it automatically resides in seventh virtual console (vt7 of tty7) by default. But in a text-based login this would be the first virtual console [vt1 or tty1] by default. To change to another virtual session from this mode Press “Ctrl + Alt + F1” – because the “F” series of Keys are often used by applications. You should then see another login session with a prompt asking you for a username and password, enter your details again; and you are then using vt1/tty1, the first console.
To move through the six non-GUI consoles use: Alt + F[1-6] (i.e. Alt + F1,…, Alt + F6).
To get back to vt7, in use by the GUI session use: Alt + F7.