Relapse to 80x25 text mode from X

Polytropon freebsd at
Wed Sep 21 02:46:01 UTC 2016

On Wed, 21 Sep 2016 07:43:09 +1000, Felix Friedlander wrote:
> > On 21 Sep. 2016, at 00:29, Ian Smith <smithi at> wrote:
> > 
> > In freebsd-questions Digest, Vol 641, Issue 3, Message: 15
> > On Tue, 13 Sep 2016 23:59:43 +0200 Polytropon <freebsd at> wrote:
> > 
> >> When I initially installed X on my "new" Lenovo Thinkpad R61i,
> >> after leaving X (or after switching to text mode with the
> >> key combination Ctrl+Alt+PF1) the screen would still show
> >> the X image, leaving me "blind" at the console. Changing
> >> the sc driver to vt solved that problem, but opened a new
> >> one: The text mode font is tiny and unreadable.
> >> 
> >> What is the preferred way of keeping the console in 80x25
> >> mode _and_ being able to switch from/to X?
> >> 
> >> My /boot/loader.conf currently contains:
> >> 
> >> 	kern.vty=vt
> >> 	kern.vt.fb.default_mode="1280x800"
> >> 	hw.vga.textmode=1
> >> 	i915kms_load="YES"
> >> 
> >> In /etc/rc.conf I have tried
> >> 
> >> 	allscreens_flags="-f gallant"
> >> 
> >> as suggested somewhere, but that just slightly increases
> >> the font size (still more than 80x25) and looks ugly.
> >> 
> >> The laptop contains an Intel Mobile GM965/GL960 GPU. The
> >> screen has a physical size of 1280 x 800 pixels.
> >> 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> In other words: Is it possible to relapse to the default
> >> behaviour of 80x25 sc and X that has worked for decades?
> >> If yes, how?
> > 
> > I don't know but I'd like to, and I don't know but I'd like to, too.
> > 
> > [...]
> > 
> > So this is just a dreaded 'bump' .. someone/s must know all about this?
> > 
> > cheers, Ian
> In vt(4), rows and columns are determined by font size. The default
> font (I think) is 8x16, so your terminal should therefore be 160x50.

My "basic problem" with vt is that it seems to be unable to do what
sc could do for decades, but wants to be its successor. It can even
_start_ in 80x25, but after starting X, I cannot get this mode back,
whereas sc simply shows the previous X screen content and leaves me
in "blind mode".

> I don’t know why you would want an 80x25 console on a 1280x800 screen,
> but it is a valid request, so:

Because even a 1280x800 screen might be very small if the pixels
are very tightly packed. :-)

The "I want" from _my_ point of view simply is that my eyes aren't
the best ones anymore, and on Linux, I have a problem with small
fonts on small screens (usually found on laptops). I could also
imagine that people using a Braille readout (the _haptic_ inter-
face!) could face problems when they are using their 80 charcter
wide readout (with variable Y positition slider) and suddenly
can't "see" things after FreeBSD booting...

And imagine the fun of displays with much higher resolution! ;-)

There are also text mode programs that look terrible when sized
bigger than 80x25 (no matter if in xterm or on "bare metal").

> 1280 / 80 = 16
> 800 / 25 = 32
> Looks like you want a 16x32 font. You’re in luck: from FreeBSD 11,
> there’s a font `vgarom-16x32' that should be what you’re looking
> for. Load it with `vidfont' or `vidctl -f'. If you’re still on
> FreeBSD-10, you’ll have to chase up a copy from somewhere, or
> compile it from the HEX file at
> (compile it with `vtfontcvt' - the finished file goes in
> /usr/share/vt/fonts).

Interesting approach, I will definitely try this as soon as I get
back to that particular FreeBSD 10 laptop (10.3 i386 at the moment,
waiting for 11.0-RELEASE).

> I hope this helps - and I know vt sometimes has an odd way of
> doing things. I like it, but not everyone does.

I'd like it much more if it could do what sc could do for decades,
as mentioned initially. ;-)

Many thanks for the inspiration. Maybe it's possible to somehow
get the "default behaviour" back if wanted / needed.

Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...

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