agetty - alternative Linux getty
agetty [-ihLmnw] [-f issue_file] [-l login_program] [-I init] [-t time-
out] [-H login_host] port baud_rate,... [term]
agetty [-ihLmnw] [-f issue_file] [-l login_program] [-I init] [-t time-
out] [-H login_host] baud_rate,... port [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 lines:
o Adapts the tty settings to parity bits and to erase, kill, end-
of-line and uppercase characters when it reads a login name.
The program can handle 7-bit characters 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
o Optionally deduces the baud rate from the CONNECT messages pro-
duced by Hayes(tm)-compatible modems.
o Optionally does not hang up when it is given an already opened
line (useful for call-back applications).
o Optionally does not display the contents of the /etc/issue file.
o Optionally displays an alternative issue file instead of
o Optionally does not ask for a login name.
o Optionally invokes a non-standard login program instead of
o Optionally turns on hard-ware flow control
o Optionally forces the line to be local with no need for carrier
This program does not use the /etc/gettydefs (System V) or /etc/get-
tytab (SunOS 4) files.
port A path name relative to the /dev directory. If a "-" is speci-
fied, agetty assumes that its standard input is already con-
nected 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 switch-
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.
-h Enable hardware (RTS/CTS) flow control. It is left up to the
application to disable software (XON/XOFF) flow protocol where
-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 pre-
ceded by too much text.
Display the contents of issue_file instead of /etc/issue. This
allows custom messages to be displayed on different terminals.
The -i option will override this option.
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 linefeed
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 pass-
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)-compatible 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 specified 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
connection. 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 as root.
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 useful when you have a locally attached ter-
minal where the serial line does not set the carrier detect sig-
-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
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 details.
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
/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 con-
tain certain escape codes to display the system name, date and time
etc. All escape codes consist of a backslash (\) 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 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 num-
ber of current users logged in.
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 writ-
ten 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Eindhoven University of Technology
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Den Dolech 2, P.O. Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Peter Orbaek <email@example.com>
Linux port and more options. Still maintains the code.
Eric Rasmussen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Added -f option to display custom login messages on different terminals.
Sat Nov 25 22:51:05 MET 1989
Man(1) output converted with