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no virtual terminals after fresh etch install

I just did my first Debian install on a new desktop using the testing-
i386-netinst CD.  The install completed and I have several problems to look
into.  Here's the first.

I am booting into runlevel 3, which I set to bring up a console instead of
gnome.  This works, but I cannot bring up the usual virtual terminals 1-6
(e.g. CTRL-ALT-F1).  If I try, nothing at all happens.

I recently also brought up Ubuntu Edgy and had the same problem.  I gave up
on Ubuntu for other reasons.

I'd appreciate any suggestions on how to get the virtual terminals working.

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