Console and Terminal might sound the same thing, but they are not.
It all started in the early days of Unix, where the consoles and terminals where just composed by a screen and a keyboard.
According to Sander Van Vugt:
The console is the screen you are working from. On the console, a terminal is started as the working environment. In the terminal, a shell is operational to interpret the commands you are typing.Sander Van Vugt
Red Hat RHCSA/RHCE 7 Cert Guide: Red Hat EnterpriseLinux 7 (EX200 and EX300)
What is a Console?
A console used to be the physical part (container) of the machine that connected to the server for managing.
Today, is just software.
What is a Terminal?
The terminal used to be, and still is, the piece of software that allows you to create sessions to the server.
So, what’s so important about it?
So, the thing is that, althought the times have evolved, the original funcionality of a console, remains the same.
The main funcionality is that a console can gather several terminals at the same time. For example, lets run a VM and open a local Linux console. When pressing cmd⌘ + fn + F2 (because i’m on a Mac), a new terminal (Terminal 2) will be opened. In windows, i belive it’s ctrl + alt + F2. If i press cmd⌘ + fn + F3, Terminal 3 will be opened, and so on throught the keyboard F keys. Each one of the “F” buttons, will open the corresponding terminal session number.
Yeah, this sound confusing, but it isnt’t. We are just getting started. Lets see a practical example so that we can undertand things a little better.
Lets open up a VM with a Linux distro running. Now, as you can see in the image below, the console and the terminal:
Now, lets login and type some commands just to fill the screen.
Ok, now, if i press cmd⌘ + fn + F2, the Console will open Terminal 2. For F3, Terminal 3, and so on…
If i press cmd⌘ + fn + F1, the Console will show Terminal 1, right where i was at.
Ok, now you know how what differs between Consoles and Terminals and how to switch between them. It’s very simple, just press cmd⌘ + fn + Fx on the VM if you are on a MAC or ctrl + alt + Fx on th VM if you are on Windows. In SSH it’s not the same way, but lets leave that for other times.