Changing Console Video Modes

Erik Trulsson ertr1013 at
Mon Apr 21 07:32:25 UTC 2008

On Sun, Apr 20, 2008 at 10:28:46PM -0400, Edward Ruggeri wrote:
> 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'm afraid my computer might need to be
> booted by hand, which I wouldn't be able to do.

You will not need to recompile the kernel.  You do however need
to run vidcontrol(1) from the terminal you want to get information about.

You can try running 'vidcontrol -i mode < /dev/ttyv0' to have vidcontrol
return information about the first virtual console.
(vidcontrol tries to get the information from whatever device is attached to
its stdin.  If this device is not a video console it will return an error.)

> 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?  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?

Depending on which mode you choose, yes, you can get more text on the screen.

Read the vidcontrol(1) manpage for more information on what video modes
might be available.

<Insert your favourite quote here.>
Erik Trulsson
ertr1013 at

More information about the freebsd-questions mailing list