Getty: Provide text for users who accidentally hit ctrl+alt+f1 to guide them to hit ctrl+alt+f7

Bug #884434 reported by Scott Ritchie on 2011-10-31
This bug affects 4 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
One Hundred Papercuts
base-files (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

If you hit Ctrl+Alt+F1 through F6 to bring up a virtual terminal you currently see text along the lines of:
Ubuntu 11.10 hostname tty1
hostname login:

Users who accidentally reach this screen are left confused and often assume they broke something and simply restart with the power button. We should provide text that, in order of priority:
 * Directs a user to press ctrl+alt+f7 if they don't know what to do
 * Briefly explains what the virtual terminals are and why they're there
 * Provides the relevant system information (do we even need Ubuntu version?)

ProblemType: Bug
DistroRelease: Ubuntu 11.10
Package: util-linux 2.19.1-2ubuntu3
ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 3.0.0-12.20-generic 3.0.4
Uname: Linux 3.0.0-12-generic i686
ApportVersion: 1.23-0ubuntu3
Architecture: i386
Date: Mon Oct 31 17:25:16 2011
InstallationMedia: Ubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal" - Release i386 (20110427.1)
 PATH=(custom, no user)
SourcePackage: util-linux
UpgradeStatus: Upgraded to oneiric on 2011-10-19 (12 days ago)

Scott Ritchie (scottritchie) wrote :
Changed in util-linux (Ubuntu):
assignee: nobody → Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt)
Scott Ritchie (scottritchie) wrote :

I nominate mpt to propose the actual text

Scott Ritchie (scottritchie) wrote :

So, some complications:

1) Getty doesn't currently use gettext for translations, but this shouldn't be a problem
2) The key sequence needed to escape isn't always ctrl+alt+f7, only usually so. Occasionally the desktop session is on a different VT.
3) Getty shows this text on server console logins, which are not useful for this change since there is no desktop.
4) Getty's /etc/issue text is a static file only read once during boot, and we may need this text to be dynamic. It supports variable substitution, however, the text may be output before the desktuserop user actually logs in.

The right thing to do would be to determine if a desktop vt exists (whether logged in or not), and then display the text pointing to ctrl+alt+f-whatever based on that VT. However, if getty comes up first, then we may very well have to output this text before there is a desktop session on a VT at all.

Changed in util-linux (Ubuntu):
importance: Undecided → Medium
Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

Wow, I neglected this, sorry.

How about:
This is the Ubuntu text-mode console.
To return to the normal Ubuntu session, hold down Alt while pressing F7.

Any problems with that?

Changed in util-linux (Ubuntu):
assignee: Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) → nobody
Changed in util-linux (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Changed in hundredpapercuts:
status: New → Confirmed
importance: Undecided → Medium
assignee: nobody → Paper Cuts Ninja (papercuts-ninja)
Changed in hundredpapercuts:
status: Confirmed → Triaged
Changed in util-linux (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Triaged
Phillip Susi (psusi) on 2013-10-09
Changed in util-linux (Ubuntu):
importance: Medium → Wishlist

Since this bug is a usability issue that does not limit the functionality of a core application, it has a priority of 'medium'.

Changed in util-linux (Ubuntu):
importance: Wishlist → Medium
Phillip Susi (psusi) wrote :

agetty doesn't need modified here, the message can just be added to /etc/issue.

affects: util-linux (Ubuntu) → base-files (Ubuntu)
Scott Ritchie (scottritchie) wrote :

/etc/issue is not translatable, is it?

Egmont Koblinger (egmont-gmail) wrote :

What if the user accidentally presses one of Ctrl+Alt+F8 - F12? No getty is running there, still the same message would be equally desired. I think this shouldn't be getty's task, but a one-time boot script should send this message to the first 12 (or all the 63) vts.

Re the proposed text in comment 4: IMHO it's reasonable to assume that a user doesn't know anything about text mode consoles and the switching keys, but we shouldn't assume it's the first time the user sees a computer in their life. "hold down Alt while pressing F7" should be simply "press Alt+F7".

Or better for both cases: "press the Alt+F7 keys".

Well, it really should be "press the Ctrl+Alt+F7 key combination".

Changed in hundredpapercuts:
assignee: Papercuts Ninjas (papercuts-ninja) → nobody
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