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From the project github page:

Kmscon is a simple terminal emulator based on linux kernel mode setting (KMS). It is an attempt to replace the in-kernel VT implementation with a userspace console.


Despite its name, KMS is not a hard requirement for kmscon. Kmscon supports the following video backends: fbdev (Linux fbdev video backend), drm2d (Linux DRM software-rendering backend), drm3d (Linux DRM hardware-rendering backend). Make sure one of them is available on your system.


Kmscon can function as a drop-in replacement for the in-kernel linux-console. Features include:

  • Full vt220 to vt510 implementation.
  • Full internationalization support:
    • Kmscon supports printing full Unicode glyphs, including the CJK ones.
    • Kmscon provides internationalized keyboard handling through libxkbcommon, thus allowing it to use the full range of keyboard layouts supported in X keyboard.
  • Hardware accelerated rendering.
  • Multi-seat capability.

NB: KMSCON supports user logins only. If you need to login as root you will either need agetty or log into root using the su command.


Install kmscon from one of the official repositories. Alternatively, you can install kmscon-gitAUR from the Arch User Repository.

Replacing linux-console

As root, issue:

# ln -s /usr/lib/systemd/system/kmsconvt\@.service /etc/systemd/system/autovt\@.service
# systemctl enable kmsconvt\@.service

This will make systemd start kmscon instead of agetty on each VT. If for whatever reason kmscon failed to start, then agetty would be started instead.

CJK Support

Note: Make sure you are using kmscon>=7 as kmscon<=6 does not render multi-cell glyphs correctly. Alternatively, you can use the git version.

Kmscon supports rendering CJK characters through the default font engine pango. However, fontconfig has to be globally configured to map the monospace font alias to proper CJK fonts. For Chinese users, the following template is provided and proved to result in satisfactory Chinese characters rendering:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<!DOCTYPE fontconfig SYSTEM "fonts.dtd">
        <test name="family"><string>monospace</string></test>
        <edit name="family" mode="prepend" binding="strong">
                <string>DejaVu Sans Mono</string>
                <string>WenQuanYi Micro Hei Mono</string>

You need to have ttf-dejavu and wqy-microhei, both available from the official repositories, installed.


  • You may want to add '--hwaccel --drm' to ExecStart if you have problems with switching between Xorg and kmscon.
 ExecStart=/usr/bin/kmscon "--vt=%I" --seats=seat0 --no-switchvt --font-name Terminus --font-size 12 --hwaccel --drm