Right now we have separate and tags. One should be made a synonym of the other, but which one should be the master tag?

We have another question on meta about this, posted well over a year ago, but it has languished unanswered and also seems like it's asking about other stuff too. So I'm posting this one, with the hope of getting this figured out quickly. Personally I don't think it matters that much which one we choose as the master tag.

(Either one can be closed as a duplicate of the other after we've figured out what we're going to do.)

Which is better?

That other question argues that is better:

Most questions tagged with actually refer to , the famous Linux feature. But some of them, such as this one, assume such GUI terminal emulators as gnome-terminal and xterm.

Personally I think may be better, though I emphasize again that which one we choose isn't important to me -- I'm just mentioning some pros and cons to get things rolling.

"Virtual terminal" seems to be the more popular term on our site, though not by a large amount:

  • Searching in a private browsing window (so my search history wouldn't affect the results), "virtual console" site:askubuntu.com gave 1,780 Google results and "virtual terminal" site:askubuntu.com gave 2,030.
  • Ask Ubuntu's built-in search engine gives gives 371 results for "virtual console" and 420 results for "virtual terminal".
  • We have 70 questions tagged and 72 questions tagged .

My general and possibly wrong impression about how these terms have been used in the wider GNU/Linux community is that "virtual terminal" was once the more popular term, but that "virtual console" has caught on and is as popular now. I don't actually know which one, if either, is more correct.

But an argument in favor of "virtual console" is that it seems like it may be used more often by kernel developers and in documentation for low-level facilities.

  • For example, console(4) describes "console terminal and virtual consoles," and console_ioctl(4) describes "ioctls for console terminal and virtual consoles." So perhaps "virtual console" is be better term after all.
  • "Virtual console" is by far the more common term used on the Linux Kernel Mailing List -- though "virtual terminal" is also used -- at least judging by 1,030 Google results for site:lkml.org "virtual console" and just 360 results for site:lkml.org "virtual terminal".

As for the traditional distinction between the terms "terminal" and "console" themselves, I suspect that won't help us decide. See What is the difference between Terminal, Console, Shell, and Command Line? I could be wrong though.

Update (2017-01-21 10:09:31Z)

karel's answer is currently +3 / -0 and no one else has posted yet, so I've suggested as a synonym of .

I still encourage anyone with thoughts on this to post an answer. For me, it's more important that we synonymize the tags than which one we make the master tag. In the past two days, no one has posted, commented, or voted in such a way as to suggest they want to be the master tag; but karel posted an answer arguing for to be the master, and three other users have upvoted it.

While I wouldn't suggest making any big policy decision in just two days, this choice is relatively minor and can be reversed later if needed, so I feel very comfortable supporting . If there are no objections for another day or so, I think it may even be appropriate for moderators to help out in making a synonym of it (if need be).

Update (2017-01-22 17:42:50Z)

It is done! and are now synonyms, with as the master tag.


  • karel and those who voted, for expressing a preference so this could move forward.
  • Users who voted on the tag synonym. (Or user -- at least one user voted it up after I proposed it; I'm not sure if there were more. Because of the in-tag rep requirements for voting on tag synonyms, often there are only a small number of votes before a moderator acts based on what users have posted on meta.)
  • jokerdino for finishing up the synonymization.
  • Incnis Mrsi for pushing for this before (which contributed to the pros and cons section of this post).

Although not for the specific reason given in karel's answer, I wholeheartedly support this outcome and have thus accepted that answer. Status: completed!

1 Answer 1


is less confusing than if for no other reason than that it looks more like a console than a terminal. The virtual console looks like a server login which looks like a console. It may be a petty distinction, but just the same it may also help new users to get a clear image of what it is.


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