Linux define the runlevel and determine which runlevel my system is currently in

Posted on in Categories last updated September 6, 2006

Q. How to define the Linux system runlevel and how do I determine which runlevel my system is currently in?

A. You need to use runlevel command to find the current and previous system runlevel. Usaully 0-6 runlevel are used by all Linux distributions:

=> 0 : Halt system

=> 1 : Take system to single-user mode (good for Linux system maintenance)

=> 2 : User defined or distribution like Debian use it

=> 3 : Full multi-user mode (text mode login)

=> 4 : Not used/user-defined

=> 5 : Full multi-user GUI mode login

=> 6 : Reboot system

Please note that runlevels 0, 1, and 6 are reserved. Runlevel 0 is used to halt the system, runlevel 6 is used to reboot the system, and runlevel 1 is used to get the system down into single user mode.

Task: Determine which runlevel my system is currently in

Type runlevel command:
$ runlevel


N 3

runlevel command reads the system utmp file (typically /var/run/utmp) to locate the runlevel record, and then prints the previous and current system runlevel on its standard output, separated by a single space. If there is no previous system runlevel, the letter N will be printed instead.

Task: Change runlevel

Use init command to change the runlevel. For example runlevel 1 is used to get the system down into single user mode:
# init 1

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. He has worked with global clients and in various industries, including IT, education, defense and space research, and the nonprofit sector. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+.

6 comment

    1. no you cannot increase runlevels !
      but you can define new runlevel by using ‘runlevel 4’ which is provided for users to create their own user-defined runlevel !
      these above lines are true for general linux system ! to know about your operating system goto :

  1. i want only previous runlevel and current runlevel individually
    3 5
    3 =present
    i want inly one runlevel
    help me……………………………………

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