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Distribution: Ubuntu 11.4,DD-WRT micro plus ssh,lfs-6.6,Fedora 15,Fedora 16
runlevel 6 IS for rebooting, runlevel 5 is for X, runlevel 3 is for non X, runlevel 1 is for single user, runlevel 0 is for system halt, but you should only have the init default at 3 or 5
unless you are running a debian based system in which the run levels are different, but 6 and 0 are reboot and shutdown respectively and should never be set in /etc/inittab as the default.
Switching to runlevel 6 invokes an orderly shutdown. Filesystems are closed off cleanly, system daemons are stopped in a sane order, and certain configurations are preserved. All of this in contrast to simply removing power or reseting the CPU, which of course carry the potential for disk corruption.
so, as far as i understand it, it doesn't really help on any sysadmin tasks
to properly turn down the system i can just "poweroff" via terminal or use the gui shudown menu.
any other idea's where this can come in handy?
If you issue the poweroff command the command tells the system to switch to runlevel 0, so that it can properly terminate all running services. It is the same as issuing the telinit 0 command. The same is true for the reboot command, only that the system switches to runlevel 6.
That is also the same if you do a restart or poweroff from GUI.
Both runlevels are essential to keep your system in a sane state.