How to Dump Data from Virtual Console

Virtual console technology is a complex conceptual combination of a display and keyboard to form a complete user interface. In the old days a classic Unix installation would use several different monitors and keyboards hooked a central mainframe to provide multi-user access. Today Linux allows users to simply switch between consoles simulated on their system. You can hold CTRL and ALT then press F1-F6 to switch to these consoles. Holding CTRL and ALT then pushing F7 will get you back to your graphical interface.

Unlike a graphical interface, it’s not possible under normal means to take screenshots of these virtual consoles, though a few vendors have worked to make software available to do so. It’s not needed if you’re merely trying to capture text, however, which can you do with the default tools Linux supplies. Dumping data in this way is extremely important if you’re a system administrator too, since Web servers and app servers that feed information to client systems and mobile devices often do most of their work through a virtual console.

Dumping Virtual Console Data

Open up a graphical command prompt in your desktop interface by either holding down CTRL and ALT and pushing T or selecting it from the root menu depending on which distribution that you use.

Make sure that you’re in the right directory to dump a text file by typing cd ~/Documents and pressing enter.


If you want to capture data from the fourth virtual console for example, then type sudo cat /dev/vcs4 > dataDump and press enter.


Change the 4 after /dev/vcs to the number between 1 and 6 indicating which virtual console you want to dump from, and change the file name after the greater than sign to whatever you like. You can then type nano dataDump or whatever other file name you used to have a look at the data. You will need to hold CTRL and push J to justify the text in order to make it readable. Hold CTRL and push X to exit.

Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

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How to Dump Data from Virtual Console

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