Changing Console Video Modes

darren kirby bulliver at
Mon Apr 21 03:58:55 UTC 2008

quoth the Edward Ruggeri:
> I'm just reading through the manual for FreeBSD, and I am at section
> 3.2.6 "Changing Console Video Modes."  This discusses how to change
> the default console resolution.  I would try this out, but as I can
> only access my FreeBSD box remotely at the moment, I am hesitant to
> recompile the kernel with the necessary options (I currently get an
> error when running "#vidcontrol -i mode": "getting active vty:
> Inappropriate ioctl for device".  I assume this is because the current
> kernel is insufficient?).  

I got this error too, over a ssh connection. vidcontrol worked fine when I 
tried it from the physical console. This was after rebuilding the kernel 

> I'm afraid my computer might need to be 
> booted by hand, which I wouldn't be able to do.

I guess I would say hold off until you have physical access, because it makes 
no difference unless you are sitting in front. Perhaps it works over serial? 
I am not sure.

> In any case, lacking the ability to experiment, I am curious about
> different video modes.  Will greater resolutions allow me to fit more
> text on the screen in the console?  

Yes. Plus it just looks nicer, for lack of a better term.

> Of course I know (maybe less than 
> I think) about resolution in terms of graphical environments (e.g.,
> can see more of a high-resolution image w/ a greater resolution), but
> is it the same for text?

Can't speak to this issue technically, but it essentially allows you to use 
much smaller, yet readable fonts in the console. 

> Thanks!
> Sincerely,
> -- Ned Ruggeri

darren kirby :: Part of the problem since 1976 ::
"...the number of UNIX installations has grown to 10, with more expected..."
- Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson, June 1972

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