After running vtlmgr, you open new virtual terminals and then switch between them by entering a hot-key sequence, specifically:
where key is either a function key whose number corresponds to the number of the virtual terminal to which to switch or a letter in the table below. For example, pressing <F1> switches you to /dev/vt01 (virtual terminal 01), pressing <F2> switches you to /dev/vt02 (virtual terminal 02), and so on,
|f||force a switch to a virtual terminal|
|h||home virtual terminal (/dev/vt00)|
|n||next virtual terminal|
|p||previous virtual terminal|
Use the f key only when the current virtual terminal is locked up or stuck in graphics mode. Using the f key causes the virtual terminal to be reset to a sane text state and to kill all processes associated with the virtual terminal. If X is running in the virtual terminal, X and all clients will be terminated. You can use the <Alt><SysReq>-f (force) key sequence to recover. Typically you will be switched to the /dev/console virtual terminal where X may be restarted.
When the hot-key sequence is entered, the executable program pointed to by the $SHELL variable is executed in the new virtual terminal. If $SHELL is NULL or points to a program that is not executable, /bin/sh is executed. The newly opened virtual terminal inherits the environment in effect when the vtlmgr command is invoked.
You may perform setup on each new virtual terminal as it is created by vtlmgr through the .vtlrc file in your home directory. This file contains a shell script that is run by /bin/sh before the shell prompt is displayed. In this way, it is similar to your .profile file. However, you may not set and export environment variables to the shell for the virtual terminal because a different shell runs the .vtlrc shell script.
The system administrator can control how many virtual terminals are available by setting a parameter in the file /etc/default/workstations. Virtual terminals 0 through 8 are configured by default, and the default keyboard map makes up to 13 virtual terminals available (that is, an additional 4 virtual terminals can readily be defined within the default settings). The default virtual terminals are the home terminal and one corresponding to each function key. An application can make two more available to the end-user (by reprogramming the keyboard map), or can reserve the last two for programmatic use only, making 15 virtual terminals available in all.
Note that processes that are no longer visible may still be continuing. Standard output is directed to the current virtual terminal's screen. For example, you can issue a cat command on one virtual terminal, switch to another virtual terminal to start an application, and then switch to another to do an edit. The cat output will be lost if the virtual terminal scrolls the data off the screen unless you initially redirect the output to a file.