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documentation.suse.com / SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Documentation / Administration Guide / Common Tasks / YaST in Text Mode
Applies to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 SP5

5 YaST in Text Mode

This section is intended for system administrators and experts who do not run an X server on their systems and depend on the text-based installation tool. It provides basic information about starting and operating YaST in text mode.

YaST in text mode uses the ncurses library to provide an easy pseudo-graphical user interface. The ncurses library is installed by default. The minimum supported size of the terminal emulator in which to run YaST is 80x25 characters.

Main Window of YaST in Text Mode
Figure 5.1: Main Window of YaST in Text Mode

When you start YaST in text mode, the YaST control center appears (see Figure 5.1). The main window consists of three areas. The left frame features the categories to which the various modules belong. This frame is active when YaST is started and therefore it is marked by a bold white border. The active category is selected. The right frame provides an overview of the modules available in the active category. The bottom frame contains the buttons for Help and Quit.

When you start the YaST control center, the category Software is selected automatically. Use and to change the category. To select a module from the category, activate the right frame with and then use and to select the module. Keep the arrow keys pressed to scroll through the list of available modules. After selecting a module, press Enter to start it.

Various buttons or selection fields in the module contain a highlighted letter (yellow by default). Use Althighlighted_letter to select a button directly instead of navigating there with →|. Exit the YaST control center by pressing AltQ or by selecting Quit and pressing Enter.

Tip: Refreshing YaST Dialogs

If a YaST dialog gets corrupted or distorted (for example, while resizing the window), press CtrlL to refresh and restore its contents.

5.1 Navigation in Modules

The following description of the control elements in the YaST modules assumes that all function keys and Alt key combinations work and are not assigned to different global functions. Read Section 5.3, “Restriction of Key Combinations” for information about possible exceptions.

Navigation among Buttons and Selection Lists

Use →| to navigate among the buttons and frames containing selection lists. To navigate in reverse order, use Alt→| or Shift→| combinations.

Navigation in Selection Lists

Use the arrow keys ( and ) to navigate among the individual elements in an active frame containing a selection list. If individual entries within a frame exceed its width, use Shift or Shift to scroll horizontally to the right and left. Alternatively, use CtrlE or CtrlA. This combination can also be used if using or results in changing the active frame or the current selection list, as in the control center.

Buttons, Radio Buttons, and Check Boxes

To select buttons with empty square brackets (check boxes) or empty parentheses (radio buttons), press Space or Enter. Alternatively, radio buttons and check boxes can be selected directly with Althighlighted_letter. In this case, you do not need to confirm with Enter. If you navigate to an item with →|, press Enter to execute the selected action or activate the respective menu item.

Function Keys

The function keys (F1 ... F12) enable quick access to the various buttons. Available function key combinations (FX) are shown in the bottom line of the YaST screen. Which function keys are actually mapped to which buttons depend on the active YaST module, because the different modules offer different buttons (Details, Info, Add, Delete, etc.). Use F10 for Accept, OK, Next, and Finish. Press F1 to access the YaST help.

Using Navigation Tree in ncurses Mode

Some YaST modules use a navigation tree in the left part of the window to select configuration dialogs. Use the arrow keys ( and ) to navigate in the tree. Use Space to open or close tree items. In ncurses mode, Enter must be pressed after a selection in the navigation tree to show the selected dialog. This is an intentional behavior to save time consuming redraws when browsing through the navigation tree.

Selecting Software in the Software Installation Module

Use the filters on the left side to limit the amount of displayed packages. Installed packages are marked with the letter i. To change the status of a package, press Space or Enter. Alternatively, use the Actions menu to select the needed status change (install, delete, update, taboo or lock).

The Software Installation Module
Figure 5.2: The Software Installation Module

5.2 Advanced Key Combinations

YaST in text mode has a set of advanced key combinations.


Show a list of advanced hotkeys.


Change color schema.


Quit the application.


Refresh screen.

CtrlD F1

Show a list of advanced hotkeys.

CtrlD ShiftD

Dump dialog to the log file as a screenshot.

CtrlD ShiftY

Open YDialogSpy to see the widget hierarchy.

5.3 Restriction of Key Combinations

If your window manager uses global Alt combinations, the Alt combinations in YaST might not work. Keys like Alt or Shift can also be occupied by the settings of the terminal.

Replacing Alt with Esc

Alt shortcuts can be executed with Esc instead of Alt. For example, EscH replaces AltH. (First press Esc, then press H.)

Backward and Forward Navigation with CtrlF and CtrlB

If the Alt and Shift combinations are occupied by the window manager or the terminal, use the combinations CtrlF (forward) and CtrlB (backward) instead.

Restriction of Function Keys

The function keys (F1 ... F12) are also used for functions. Certain function keys might be occupied by the terminal and may not be available for YaST. However, the Alt key combinations and function keys should always be fully available on a pure text console.

5.4 YaST Command Line Options

Besides the text mode interface, YaST provides a pure command line interface. To get a list of YaST command line options, enter:

yast -h

5.4.1 Starting the Individual Modules

To save time, the individual YaST modules can be started directly. To start a module, enter:

yast <module_name>

View a list of all module names available on your system with yast -l or yast --list. Start the network module, for example, with yast lan.

5.4.2 Installing Packages from the Command Line

If you know a package name and the package is provided by any of your active installation repositories, you can use the command line option -i to install the package:

yast -i <package_name>


yast --install <package_name>

PACKAGE_NAME can be a single short package name (for example gvim) installed with dependency checking, or the full path to an RPM package which is installed without dependency checking.

If you need a command line based software management utility with functionality beyond what YaST provides, consider using Zypper. This utility uses the same software management library that is also the foundation for the YaST package manager. The basic usage of Zypper is covered in Section 6.1, “Using Zypper”.

5.4.3 Command Line Parameters of the YaST Modules

To use YaST functionality in scripts, YaST provides command line support for individual modules. Not all modules have command line support. To display the available options of a module, enter:

yast <module_name> help

If a module does not provide command line support, the module is started in text mode and the following message appears:

This YaST module does not support the command line interface.