How to automatically login user at the console

Whenever I see auto-login feature implemented by using X login manager, I immediately think about how to automatically login user at the console without even touching graphical user interface.

Solution is so simple that I will not elaborate, but immediately move on to the point.

Inspect the /etc/inittab file.

$ cat /etc/inittab  | grep tty.$
1:2345:respawn:/sbin/getty 38400 tty1
2:23:respawn:/sbin/getty 38400 tty2
3:23:respawn:/sbin/getty 38400 tty3
4:23:respawn:/sbin/getty 38400 tty4
5:23:respawn:/sbin/getty 38400 tty5
6:23:respawn:/sbin/getty 38400 tty6

To automatically login milosz user at the the tty3 and tty4 terminals you need to use -a parameter for getty command (agetty to be precise) to specify username that will be logged in without asking for login name and password.

You can also use -i parameter to suppress display of the issue file and -p parameter to wait for any key before dropping to the shell.
$ sudo vi /etc/inittab 
[...]
1:2345:respawn:/sbin/getty 38400 tty1
2:23:respawn:/sbin/getty 38400 tty2
3:23:respawn:/sbin/getty -a milosz 38400 tty3
4:23:respawn:/sbin/getty -a milosz -i -p 38400 tty4
5:23:respawn:/sbin/getty 38400 tty5
6:23:respawn:/sbin/getty 38400 tty6
[...]
To suppress displaying motd file, comment out pam_motd PAM module in the /etc/pam.d/login configuration file.

Changes will take effect after system reboot, but it is not necessary to do it as you can just execute the following commands.

Re-read inittab configuration file.

$ sudo telinit q

Take note of the PIDs of the getty processes listening on the tty3 and tty4 terminals and then simply kill them.

$ ps ax | grep getty.*tty[3-4]
 4308 tty3     Ss+    0:00 /sbin/getty 38400 tty3
 4309 tty4     Ss+    0:00 /sbin/getty 38400 tty4
$ sudo kill 4308 4309

Now you will be automatically logged in whenever you switch to the tty3 or tty4 console.

Milosz Galazka's Picture

About Milosz Galazka

Milosz is a Linux Foundation Certified Engineer working for a successful Polish company as a system administrator and a long time supporter of Free Software Foundation and Debian operating system.

Gdansk, Poland https://sleeplessbeastie.eu