I know there’s a portion of Ubuntu (and other distro) users who resent six virtual consoles running at a time, in addition to the X desktop in a default Ubuntu setup. I would agree that six is probably overkill, but removing them completely would be nuts.
First of all, on some slow systems, a tty is preferable (for me) to a terminal emulator. I have worked with some very, very slow systems where the time taken to work through a start menu and open a terminal emulator is longer than just jumping to a virtual console.
Furthermore, there are some very kewl console applications that aren’t tied to X, so if you work with a quasi-unstable desktop system, you don’t have to worry about something dying when X falls through.
Just as examples, I run rtorrent from a virtual console, and if I want to restart X or tamper with the settings, it doesn’t interfere with seeding an upload or breaking a download. I can test settings or tweak X to my heart’s delight, without having to restart an X-based torrent client each time. And don’t get me started on how much fatter Azureus is than rtorrent.
Here’s another example: I’m in the process of moving a large number of DVDs onto an external USB drive. Unfortunately, it’s via USB 1.1, so the time factor is roughly 45 minutes or an hour between disc swaps. Rather than hitch the process to X and a GUI app, I use Midnight Commander (which old-timers will appreciate for its Norton Commander-like layout) to shuffle files between DVD and USB, and there’s no fear of X crashing or my experimentation interfering with progress. (As an added bonus, install gpm and use ‘Commander with the mouse.)
Music is another great idea. MPD is the industry standard for low-profile music access, and ncmpc is a great console app for managing it. Imagine X giving you a fit and restarting, but the music keeps playing.
The best part about these apps is that they are so lightweight and so low profile that you hardly need any processor overhead to run them. Back in September I had a 75Mhz Pentium machine (that’s right, 75Mhz — not 750Mhz) that could handle all those apps — at the same time — without any strain whatsoever. They don’t eat processor cycles and don’t need extra time to get done.
My only tip for console apps is to add vga=773 to your kernel boot line, which should give you a nice, spacious 1024×768 terminal environment regardless of the console you pick. Now you won’t feel cramped any more.
P.S.: The diggs are flattering, people. You’re making me feel guilty.