Debian Runlevels

Louis Zirkel lzirkel at
Mon Oct 17 13:42:20 MDT 2005

Stephen Ward wrote:
> First Time Debian User Seeking Answers...
> In other distros, I seem to recall that if I change a certain value on
> a certain line in /etc/inittab from a 5 to a 3, that sets my default
> runlevel to 3, which has the most noticeable effect of not launching
> the X server by default at bootup.
> Well, I just installed debian and noticed that boots to a graphical
> login, of which I am not a big fan.  So I decided to muck with
> /etc/inittab and noticed two things: 1) The runlevel value in there is
> 2 (what does that mean?), and 2) changing that value seems to have no
> effect.
> Your thoughts?

Under Debian the runlevel isn't used to handle the graphical login 
functionality.  It really comes down to whether xdm/gdm/kdm is being loaded. 
You can stop this behavior by removing them from the boot sequence using 
update-rc.d like this:

update-rc.d -f gdm remove

replacing gdm for whichever of the three is being loaded.  That should hopefully 
fix your problem.

Louis Zirkel III  <lzirkel at>
SysAdmin/DBA -- Century Development Solutions

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