Posts Tagged ‘inittab’

Different Run levels in Linux and how to switch between them

What are different Run levels in Linux and how to switch between them?

Run levels:-Run levels define what processes or services to run automatically while the system boots up. This is defined in /etc/inittab file.

N. B: – The init process is the last step in the boot procedure and has pid of ‘1’.’ “init” is responsible for starting system processes as per defined in the /etc/inittab file.


“init” process checks which default run level is defined in /etc/inittab and starts the system in that run level which means all the services defined for that run level gets executed.


There are 7 different run levels present (run level 0-6) in Linux system for different purpose. The descriptions are given below.

0: Halt System (To shutdown the system)
1: Single user mode
2: Basic multi user mode without NFS
3: Full multi user mode (text based)
4: unused
5: Multi user mode with Graphical User Interface
6: Reboot System


Most desktop Linux distributions boot into run level 5, which starts up the Graphical Login Prompt. This allows the user to use the system with X-Windows server enabled. Most servers boot into run level 3, which starts the text based login prompt as it is advisable not to install graphical windows in a server as lots of space goes waste and also it takes lot of resource to run.


Each run level is defined inside its own directory structure. These directories are located in the /etc/rc.d/ directory, under which you have rc1.d, rc2.d… rc6.d directories where the number from 0 to 6 corresponds to the specific run level. Inside each directory symbolic links are defined to a  to master initscripts found in /etc/init.d or /etc/rc.d/init.d.


Switching or Changing between different runlevels:-

Method-1: Changing run level temporarily without reboot.

We can use init command to change rune levels without rebooting the system.

Ex:-if we are currently in run level 3 and want to go to run level 1, just we need to execute

# init 1

Or if you want to shutdown a machine you can take help of run level ‘0’ .Just you need to execute

#init 0

Remember this change is not permanent and on next reboot you will get your default runlevel.


Method-2: Changing run level permanently

If you want to change your default run level then

Open the file /etc/inittab and edit entry initdefault:

# vi /etc/inittab

Let’s set initdefault to 5, so that you can boot to X next time when Linux comes up:



Method-3:-Change run level at boot time

You can also change the run level at boot time. If your system uses LILO as the boot manager, you can append the run level to the boot command:

LILO: linux 3 or
LILO: linux 5

If your system uses GRUB, you can change the boot runlevel by pressing the `e’ key to edit the boot configuration. Append the run level(in our case 5) to the end of the boot command as shown:

kernel /vmlinuz-2.6.18-164.el5 ro root=LABEL=/ rhgb quiet  5



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