I am installing Scientific Linux 6.1 via kickstart, and I am trying to debug a problem.

According to Tips and tricks for anaconda and kickstart, I should have several virtual consoles available:

What the different terminals display

Alt-F1    The installation dialog when using text or cmdline
Alt-F2    A shell prompt
Alt-F3    The install log displaying messages from install program
Alt-F4    The system log displaying messages from kernel, etc.
Alt-F5    All other messages
Alt-F7    The installation dialog when using the graphical installer

The Virtual Consoles Alt-F1, F3, F4 & F5 all work and show various logging information. However, the Virtual Console at Alt-F2 does not do anything.

I could really use access to the shell prompt (Alt-F2), however there is no Shell prompt available at the second virtual console (Alt-F2). All I have is a blinking '_'.

Can I force Alt-F2 to show me a shell prompt?


I have just tested an automated kickstart install (driven by cobbler) and it works fine for me. All I had to do is press Ctrl+Alt+F2 (virt-manager has a menu for this). The only problem is that the shell is not avaialble right away, you have to wait for the installer to reach a certain stage.

Regarding debugging, you might find the Anaconda logging page helpful.

  • Do you happen to know the line which cobbler passes to the kernel? I am not using cobbler, but suspect that's my problem. – Stefan Lasiewski Oct 18 '11 at 1:04
  • It's actually koan that starts the virtual machine, but here it is: method=nfs:myserver:/Scientific-6.1-i386-DVD/ ks=http://myserver/cblr/svc/op/ks/system/myvm ksdevice=link kssendmac lang= text – Cristian Ciupitu Oct 18 '11 at 1:32
  • Are you installing Enterprise Linux version 5.7 (or similar) or version 6.x? – Stefan Lasiewski Oct 18 '11 at 4:23
  • I've tested with Scientific Linux 6.1, the distribution mentioned in your question. – Cristian Ciupitu Oct 18 '11 at 6:17

Look into /etc/inittab. Maybe the entry for tty2 is disabled. If you want a login prompt, put this line into it:

2:2345:respawn:/sbin/getty 38400 tty2

For an autokgin as root, use:

2:2345:respawn:/sbin/mingetty --autologin root --noclear tty2

After editing, make init re-read this config:

telinit q

You should see something on tty2 now.

  • This is an installer, not an installed system. – Cristian Ciupitu Oct 18 '11 at 0:47
  • Unfortunately I cannot access a commandline to view those files. And as a sidenote, RHEL6 has replaced /etc/inittab with Upstart (/etc/inittab is ignored). – Stefan Lasiewski Oct 18 '11 at 0:53
  • @StefanLasiewski: Ok, the blank tty2 means that installation hasn't progressed so far that other vt's could be opened. What's in your ks.cfg? Any idea at what stage it fails? – ott-- Oct 18 '11 at 1:09
  • @ott : I should clarify. The other Virtual Terminals (Alt-F1, F3, etc.) are working. Alt-F2 is the only VT which is not working. I updated my question to be more clear. – Stefan Lasiewski Oct 18 '11 at 4:22
  • @StefanLasiewski: Yes, the installation stops before it can start a shell on vt2, that's why you see nothing. I think you can't make "normal" screenshots, but could you take pictures of tty3 and tty4 to see the last steps? – ott-- Oct 18 '11 at 12:44

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