Posted by: jasonk2600 | January 7, 2010

Tip: Custom Console Display on FreeBSD

The default local console display settings in FreeBSD are set to a relatively restrictive 80 column by 25 line resolution.  Systems running FreeBSD with a VGA video adapter can increase the number of columns and/or lines with the vidcontrol utility.  The vidcontrol utility is included as part of the basic FreeBSD configuration and can control the local console settings, such as font, columns, rows, and even colors.

Below is an example of how to use vidcontrol to extend the local console display to 80×60 and change the color to green text on a black background.

The first step is to define which fonts to use for each of the different character sizes.  Add the following lines to the /etc/rc.conf file.



The next step is to use the vidcontrol utility to change the console display settings for each of the virtual TTY consoles. This can be achieved by adding a small script to the /etc/rc.local configuration file. The example below will change all of the local virtual TTY consoles to use 8×8 point character font, change the resolution to 80 columns by 60 lines, and set the text to the color green on a black background.

echo -n 'Setting up Virtual TTYs... '
for ii in /dev/ttyv*
   /usr/sbin/vidcontrol < $ii -f 8x8 cp437-8x8
   /usr/sbin/vidcontrol < $ii VGA_80x60
   /usr/sbin/vidcontrol green black > $ii 2>&1
/usr/sbin/vidcontrol green black


Reboot the FreeBSD system for the new settings to take effect. Enjoy the extra usability of the local vTTY’s.




  1. vidcontrol, just what i was looking for to change the text colour. Thanks.

  2. Really cool, helps alot when you are configuring a server

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