agetty - alternative Linux getty
agetty [-c8ihLmnsUw] [-f issue_file] [-l login_program] [-I init] [-t timeout] [-H
login_host] port baud_rate,... [term]
agetty opens a tty port, prompts for a login name and invokes the /bin/login command. It
is normally invoked by init(8).
agetty has several non-standard features that are useful for hard-wired and for dial-in
o Adapts the tty settings to parity bits and to erase, kill, end-of-line and upper-
case characters when it reads a login name. The program can handle 7-bit charac-
ters with even, odd, none or space parity, and 8-bit characters with no parity. The
following special characters are recognized: @ and Control-U (kill); #, DEL and
back space (erase); carriage return and line feed (end of line).
o Optionally deduces the baud rate from the CONNECT messages produced by
o Optionally does not hang up when it is given an already opened line (useful for
o Optionally does not display the contents of the /etc/issue file.
o Optionally displays an alternative issue file instead of /etc/issue.
o Optionally does not ask for a login name.
o Optionally invokes a non-standard login program instead of /bin/login.
o Optionally turns on hard-ware flow control
o Optionally forces the line to be local with no need for carrier detect.
This program does not use the /etc/gettydefs (System V) or /etc/gettytab (SunOS 4) files.
port A path name relative to the /dev directory. If a "-" is specified, agetty assumes
that its standard input is already connected to a tty port and that a connection to
a remote user has already been established.
Under System V, a "-" port argument should be preceded by a "--".
A comma-separated list of one or more baud rates. Each time agetty receives a BREAK
character it advances through the list, which is treated as if it were circular.
Baud rates should be specified in descending order, so that the null character
(Ctrl-@) can also be used for baud rate switching.
term The value to be used for the TERM environment variable. This overrides whatever
init(8) may have set, and is inherited by login and the shell.
-c Don't reset terminal cflags (control modes). See termios(3) for more details.
-8 Assume that the tty is 8-bit clean, hence disable parity detection.
-h Enable hardware (RTS/CTS) flow control. It is left up to the application to disable
software (XON/XOFF) flow protocol where appropriate.
-i Do not display the contents of /etc/issue (or other) before writing the login
prompt. Terminals or communications hardware may become confused when receiving
lots of text at the wrong baud rate; dial-up scripts may fail if the login prompt
is preceded by too much text.
Display the contents of issue_file instead of /etc/issue. This allows custom mes-
sages to be displayed on different terminals. The -i option will override this
Set an initial string to be sent to the tty or modem before sending anything else.
This may be used to initialize a modem. Non printable characters may be sent by
writing their octal code preceded by a backslash (\). For example to send a line-
feed character (ASCII 10, octal 012) write \012.
Invoke the specified login_program instead of /bin/login. This allows the use of a
non-standard login program (for example, one that asks for a dial-up password or
that uses a different password file).
Write the specified login_host into the utmp file. (Normally, no login host is
given, since agetty is used for local hardwired connections and consoles. However,
this option can be useful for identifying terminal concentrators and the like.
-m Try to extract the baud rate the CONNECT status message produced by Hayes(tm)-com-
patible modems. These status messages are of the form: "<junk><speed><junk>".
agetty assumes that the modem emits its status message at the same speed as speci-
fied with (the first) baud_rate value on the command line.
Since the -m feature may fail on heavily-loaded systems, you still should enable
BREAK processing by enumerating all expected baud rates on the command line.
-n Do not prompt the user for a login name. This can be used in connection with -l
option to invoke a non-standard login process such as a BBS system. Note that with
the -n option, agetty gets no input from user who logs in and therefore won't be
able to figure out parity, character size, and newline processing of the connec-
tion. It defaults to space parity, 7 bit characters, and ASCII CR (13) end-of-line
character. Beware that the program that agetty starts (usually /bin/login) is run
Terminate if no user name could be read within timeout seconds. This option should
probably not be used with hard-wired lines.
-L Force the line to be a local line with no need for carrier detect. This can be use-
ful when you have a locally attached terminal where the serial line does not set
the carrier detect signal.
-s Try to keep the existing baud rate. The baud rates from the command line are used
when agetty receives a BREAK character.
-U Turn on support for detecting an uppercase only terminal. This setting will detect
a login name containing only capitals as indicating an uppercase only terminal and
turn on some upper to lower case conversions. Note that this has no support for
any unicode characters.
-w Wait for the user or the modem to send a carriage-return or a linefeed character
before sending the /etc/issue (or other) file and the login prompt. Very useful in
connection with the -I option.
This section shows examples for the process field of an entry in the /etc/inittab file.
You'll have to prepend appropriate values for the other fields. See inittab(5) for more
For a hard-wired line or a console tty:
/sbin/agetty 9600 ttyS1
For a directly connected terminal without proper carriage detect wiring: (try this if your
terminal just sleeps instead of giving you a password: prompt.)
/sbin/agetty -L 9600 ttyS1 vt100
For a old style dial-in line with a 9600/2400/1200 baud modem:
/sbin/agetty -mt60 ttyS1 9600,2400,1200
For a Hayes modem with a fixed 115200 bps interface to the machine: (the example init
string turns off modem echo and result codes, makes modem/computer DCD track modem/modem
DCD, makes a DTR drop cause a dis-connection and turn on auto-answer after 1 ring.)
/sbin/agetty -w -I 'ATE0Q1&D2&C1S0=1\015' 115200 ttyS1
The issue-file (/etc/issue or the file set with the -f option) may contain certain escape
codes to display the system name, date and time etc. All escape codes consist of a back-
slash (\) immediately followed by one of the letters explained below.
b Insert the baudrate of the current line.
d Insert the current date.
s Insert the system name, the name of the operating system.
l Insert the name of the current tty line.
m Insert the architecture identifier of the machine, eg. i486
n Insert the nodename of the machine, also known as the hostname.
o Insert the NIS domainname of the machine.
O Insert the DNS domainname of the machine.
r Insert the release number of the OS, eg. 1.1.9.
t Insert the current time.
u Insert the number of current users logged in.
U Insert the string "1 user" or "<n> users" where <n> is the number of current users
v Insert the version of the OS, eg. the build-date etc.
Example: On my system, the following /etc/issue file:
This is \n.\o (\s \m \r) \t
This is thingol.orcan.dk (Linux i386 1.1.9) 18:29:30
/var/run/utmp, the system status file.
/etc/issue, printed before the login prompt.
/dev/console, problem reports (if syslog(3) is not used).
/etc/inittab, init(8) configuration file.
The baud-rate detection feature (the -m option) requires that agetty be scheduled soon
enough after completion of a dial-in call (within 30 ms with modems that talk at 2400
baud). For robustness, always use the -m option in combination with a multiple baud rate
command-line argument, so that BREAK processing is enabled.
The text in the /etc/issue file (or other) and the login prompt are always output with
7-bit characters and space parity.
The baud-rate detection feature (the -m option) requires that the modem emits its status
message after raising the DCD line.
Depending on how the program was configured, all diagnostics are written to the console
device or reported via the syslog(3) facility. Error messages are produced if the port
argument does not specify a terminal device; if there is no utmp entry for the current
process (System V only); and so on.
W.Z. Venema <email@example.com>
Eindhoven University of Technology
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Den Dolech 2, P.O. Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Peter Orbaek <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Linux port and more options. Still maintains the code.
Eric Rasmussen <email@example.com>
Added -f option to display custom login messages on different terminals.
The agetty command is part of the util-linux package and is available from ftp://ftp.ker-