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  1. #1

    Need distro with real text mode console

    I am looking for a distro with real VGA text mode virtual consoles/ttys. In particular, 80(columns)x25(lines)x16(colors) This is not about Xterm (or clones) or any GUI.

    I sprang for distribution discs for Fedora and Gentoo only to discover their consoles are thoroughly dedicated to tiny unicode fonts (aat somehting like 170x4. I cannot keep buying discs and hoping for the best (I am on dialup so downloading for trials is not practical).

    If you do not know the difference between VGA text mode and VESA graphics, you probably do not know the answer to my question. Thanks for reading, anyway.

    I came to Unices because they had maintained command-line (text mode) applications. I do not care about GUIs. I run light-weight window managers for things that just have to have graphics modes, but I am not impressed at all with pretty Gnome/KDE/insert name of any other behemoth GUI desktops here. I do my work at the command line. I've been using FreeBSD for 20+ years, but 8.0+ does not support an internal hardware modem and many devices are no longer properly supported. I don't want to be orphaned in 7.x without a working printer or mass storage device handler.
    Last edited by larseighner; 08-21-2011 at 02:32 AM. Reason: typos

  2. #2
    Linux Engineer hazel's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Harrow, UK
    In my experience, it depends on how your kernel is configured. If you have both fbcon and a framebuffer driver like vesafb (either built-in or inserted as modules), then you get the framebuffer console with its tiny print.
    I use Crux, which is an ideal distro for people who like cli; you don't get a gui by default but you can install one if you want. You build your own kernel from source so you get to decide whether you want a normal virtual console or a framebuffer one.
    "I'm just a little old lady; don't try to dazzle me with jargon!"

  3. #3
    Administrator jayd512's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    I was thinking that maybe a minimal install of Debian, or perhaps Slackware, might do what you need.

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  5. #4
    You can do this on pretty much any distro, it is (mostly) a function of the kernel. You'll want to pass some arguments to the kernel and boot-time, and possibly remove some others. To test it out, first reboot and interrupt the boot process at the grub prompt. Then highlight your kernel in the grub menu and edit the command line args (by pressing 'a' I think). Take out anything like "vga=" and "rhgb" and also any "SYSFONT=" stuff. Then add "xdriver=vga nomodeset". So a very sparse example of a kernel line might be:

    kernel /vmlinuz-2.6.27.i686 ro root=/dev/sda2 xdriver=vga nomodeset
    Alternatively, you should be able to add "vga=ask" and the kernel will prompt you for the mode you want, before it attempts to boot the kernel. The very first choice is 80x25, I believe.

    If the first option works for you, then just make a new kernel stanza in /etc/grub.conf, containing the edits to your kernel line.


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