I have an embedded Ubuntu 12.04 system running with no monitor and I need to run a command in the terminal. I can connect a USB keyboard (or even a mouse, but a mouse would be difficult to use without a monitor) and log into the Ubuntu desktop. How can I bring up the terminal using only the keyboard without any visual feedback?

  • 3
    ALT + F2 and typing gnome-terminal ready. Mar 22, 2014 at 12:13
  • 3
    Why are you operating in the dark like that? Can you not access this system via SSH?
    – jason
    Mar 22, 2014 at 21:12
  • @Jason If I could have, I would have. In fact connecting to wifi is exactly what I was going to do with the terminal.
    – Matt
    Mar 29, 2014 at 22:05
  • 1
    @Matt been there before. Without any output though, I foresee a frustrating experience. Some alternatives to trying to configure your machine without any feedback: you could remove the hard drive and configure the wifi and ssh then replace it, or install an os on a flash drive with ssh and wifi set up then access the machine via this os with ssh and write the configurations to the internal hdd.
    – jason
    Mar 31, 2014 at 2:25

3 Answers 3


Just hit Ctrl+Alt+F1 to switch to another tty. That's probably easiest.

  • 3
    I sometimes have problems with tty1. Ctrl+Alt+F2 works each time.
    – gronostaj
    Mar 21, 2014 at 17:16
  • Thanks! Does this work from the login screen as well?
    – Matt
    Mar 21, 2014 at 17:17
  • 2
    @Matt Yes. You'll probably have to log in on the other tty as well though. Mar 21, 2014 at 17:17
  • Yes I realize that (mostly because I just tried it out on another Ubuntu I'm on right now).
    – Matt
    Mar 21, 2014 at 17:19
  • I think this does not prevent GUI opening in other TTYs. I meshed up my GPU settings so do not want to start it in GUI. Does this prevent GUI opening in other TTYs? The system seems to start GUI also in other TTY simultaneously. Jan 2, 2016 at 10:28

For Unity (shipped by default since the Ubuntu12), Gnome, LXDE, Cinnamon and MATE, the Ctrl+Alt+T keyboard shortcut will work if you are already logged in.

If you are using Xfce (Xubuntu), however, it would be Super+T. (Note that Super is the Windows key)

And as far as I am aware, in KDE, while it is also Ctrl+Alt+T, for some reason, there are issues with the default shortcuts. So you have a few other options. Press Alt+F2, then type konsole and press Enter. If you have full access to the system, and you want to set up a keyboard shortcut, right click on the Menu, find Konsole, select Advanced tab, Current shortcut key. Select a combination of your liking, though be careful with shortcuts already in use.

As per Terdon's request, this answer has been expanded to provide information about the different Ubuntu environments.

  • This is a great answer and will probably come in hand, but unfortunately in this situation Oliver's answer is better.
    – Matt
    Mar 21, 2014 at 17:23
  • 1
    It is good when issues are resolved quickly. Cheers!
    – Kard Nails
    Mar 21, 2014 at 17:40

If you still have access to it, ALT + F2 is essentially a one-time run dialog. It can be re-enabled in System > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts.

This used to be a standard short cut. Why Canonical removed it, I'll never know.



Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.