YaST2 in Text Mode (ncurses)

YaST can also be controlled by means of a text-based terminal. This is especially useful in the case of systems that cannot run the X Window System or where X is unneeded, as in dedicated server or firewall machines. It is also good for administrators remotely accessing a system.


The usage may be unfamiliar, but is very simple. Basically, the entire program can be controlled with Tab, Alt + Tab, Space, the arrow keys (UpArrow and ), Return, and shortcuts. The YaST Control Center appears first, as shown in Figure 3.32: “The Main Window of YaST2 ncurses”.

Figure 3.32. The Main Window of YaST2 ncurses

The Main Window of YaST2 ncurses

The left frame, which is surrounded by a thick white border, features the categories to which the various modules belong. The active category is indicated by a colored background. The right frame, which is surrounded by a thin white border, provides an overview of the modules contained in the active category. The bottom frame contains the buttons for Help and Exit.

When the YaST Control Center is started, the category Software is selected automatically. Use and UpArrow to change the category. To start a module from the selected category, press RightArrow. The module selection then appears with a thick border. Use and UpArrow to select the desired module. Keep the arrow keys pressed to scroll through the list of available modules. When a module is selected, the module title appears with a colored background and a brief description is displayed in the bottom frame.

Press Enter to start the desired module. Various buttons or selection fields in the module contain a letter with a different color (yellow by default). Use Alt + yellow letter to select the respective button directly without navigating there with Tab.

Exit the YaST Control Center by pressing Exit or by selecting Exit in the category overview and pressing Enter.

Restriction of Key Combinations

If you have system-wide Alt key combinations when the X server is running, the Alt combinations in YaST might not work. Furthermore, keys like Alt or Shift might be occupied by the settings of the terminal.

Replacing Alt with Esc:

Alt shortcuts can be executed with Esc instead of Alt. For example, Esc + H replaces Alt + H.

Replacing backward and forward navigation with Strg + F and Strg + B:

If the Alt and Shift combinations are occupied by the window manager or the terminal, the combinations Strg + F (forward) and Strg + B (backward) can be used instead.

Restricted function keys:

The F keys are also used for functions. Certain function keys can be occupied by the terminal so might not be available for YaST. However, the Alt key combinations and the F keys should always be fully available on a pure text console.

The following paragraphs assume that the Alt key combinations are functional.

Module Operation

Navigating Buttons and Selection Lists

Tab and Alt + Tab navigate back and forth among buttons and frames.

Navigating in Selection Lists

UpArrow and always navigate among the single items within an activated frame containing a selection list. These can, for instance, be the single modules of a module group in the control center.

Checking Radio Buttons and Check Boxes

Buttons with empty square brackets (check box) or empty parentheses (radio buttons) can be selected with Space or Enter. The buttons at the bottom of the individual modules are activated with Enter when selected (green background) or with the combination Alt + yellow letter. Refer to Figure 3.33: “The Software Installation Module”).

The Function Keys

Various functions are mapped to the F keys (F1 to F12). Which F keys are actually mapped to functions depends on which YaST module is active, because the different modules offer different buttons (such as details, info, add, and delete). The buttons OK, Next, and Finish are mapped to F10. The YaST help, which can be accessed with F1, provides information about the functions of the individual F keys.

Figure 3.33. The Software Installation Module

The Software Installation Module

Starting Individual Modules

To save time, the individual YaST modules can also be started directly. To start the modules, enter yast followed by the name of the module.