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TTY (consoles) are working fine here with a fresh Fedora 16 installation.

I suggest you work through this link as a first step

From there, what video card do you have and can you be more specific on the "I get garbage characters" part ? I can not tell from your post if it a video card problem or a font problem or a configuration problem.

fonts are set in /etc/sysconfig/i18n or with the command setfont

setfont -v /lib/kbd/consolefonts/latarcyrheb-sun16.psfu.gz

You may specify and font you wish in /lib/kbd/consolefonts/

Font provided in kbd-misc