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If you work on the commandline a lot (i.e. also on the console) you look for ways to make it more comfortable. One way is to configure your shell and make it more comfortable, or even switch to another well configurable and usable shell like the ZSH.

Of course there's more to the commandline than just the shell. For example you may want to use a higher resolution than the 80×25 characters, install some handy programs, make use of colours, use a different font and so on.


Modern displays reach Full HD or even higher resolutions. The classical UNIX and Linux console however features a maximum of 80×25 characters. Even if you utilize the console very seldom, 80×25 is not really usable. Especially in Debian GNU/Linux, where (by default) you'll see the console on every boot and shutdown it is simply ugly.

So a higher resolution on the console is desirable. There used to be a kernel parameter vga=xxx where xxx was a code for the resolution and colour-depth. But the use of that option is deprecated, so it already gets ignored or will be soon.

Certainly there must be another solution to accomplish a higher console resolution than 80×25 characters? Indeed there is, although it is not as easy as the 'vga=xxx' parameter. Well… not exactly. It is just different ;-)

Configuring GRUB

Possibly you already did part of the GRUB configuration if you also use my GRUB Splashscreen. Here I'll assume you didn't.

First, you need to do some default settings in GRUB. The file /etc/default/grub needs to be edited for that.

  • Find the line GRUB_TERMINAL=console. If it is not a comment, make it one or change it to GRUB_TERMINAL=gfxterm.
  • Find the line #GRUB_GFXMODE=640×480 and uncomment it (if it already isn't). Change the resolution to the value you wish to use.1)
    If you are unsure which resolutions are supported, just hit 'c' in the GRUB menu and enter the command videoinfo (UEFI) or vbeinfo (BIOS). It should then list all available modes.
  • Add the line GRUB_GFXPAYLOAD_LINUX=keep just below that line before.

This is already it. All that remains is running update-grub, reboot and you're done. Though you may want to pimp the console a little more before rebooting ;-)

Console Font

In Debian the default console font is “Fixed”. This font is fine for the occasional console user, but a much more readable and beautiful font is “Terminus”. In Debian the packages “console-setup” and “console-terminus” should be installed by default. If not, just install them:

# apt-get install console-setup console-terminus

Afterwards run the console setup:

# dpkg-reconfigure console-setup

Just accept all the default values, except for the font. There choose “Terminus” (or “Terminus Bold” if you prefer).

Afterwards, reboot your machine and enjoy the console!

"" shell script

I have not edited this script in quite some time. So before you run it, you should check its contents.

Size: 3,6 kB

Throughout this site you can find things about how to make several programs more useful or beautiful. Like the ZSH, a nice GRUB Splashscreen, a good sources.list and many more.

Of course it is not much work implementing that kind of stuff, but if you have to do it over and over again it becomes dull and eventually you'll also forget to do a little tweaking here and there.

Long ago, in the DeskTux stoneage, I had a script I called “SysInstall” to take that work and more out of your hands. It aimed to be able to install a whole customized system. But that became unmaintainable for me and I also didn't want any confusions with FreeBSD's Sysinstall. So I decided to take that offline.

But now I took a different approach. Usually I install a Debian standard system (so no selections during the installation except for “Standard System”) and from there I only install the software I want. But a few things are always the same. So I made a script “” that does all the dull work for me and never even forgets about a single step.

The script can be downloaded right here. Just unpack it, change into the directory “tweakconsole” and run the script: ./ Done!

This will install a few useful programs and configure the ZSH, implement my sources.list for you as well as some other neat stuff. Just check out the script to see what it does!

You can also add a colour-depth, like e.g. 1920x1080x32
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misc/console.txt · Last modified: 2019-11-09 08:20 by jens