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

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

Output:

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

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • sheik August 31, 2010, 7:07 pm

    how to increase or add run level on rhel . . .
    psl help me . .

    • linux torvalds October 16, 2013, 1:57 pm

      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 :
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runlevel#Red_Hat_Linux_and_Fedora

  • Paulomjeet April 30, 2011, 1:15 am

    Can you increase runlevels in linux? If you increase run levels how to increase?

    • linux torvalds October 16, 2013, 1:56 pm

      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 :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runlevel

  • eswarreddy March 19, 2012, 6:07 pm

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

    • Friedemann Reiche February 8, 2015, 11:52 am

      Just in case anyone is still wondering how to do this:
      runlevel | sed -e “s:..::”

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