More Tips and Tricks for GNU Screen
Lock, Monitor, Flip, Mirror
September 22, 2009
Last week I talked about using cut and paste
within Screen. You can also use screen for several other useful tricks as
- Monitor a window for output: Hit Ctrl-A Shift-M when in window 1, and then
flip to window 2 (with Ctrl-A N), and you'll be notified in window 2 when there's
output in window 1. This is useful if you're running a job that takes a long time; no
need to keep flipping between windows. You can also monitor for silence with Ctrl-A _.
This is useful if you're running a compile job or something else that outputs a lot of
stuff when it's running successfully.
- Use the window list: Hit Ctrl-A " to see the window list. This is great if
you have lots of windows open within screen. To name your windows more helpfully, use
Ctrl-A Shift-A while in the window to set its title.
- Mirror another session: Use screen -x to connect to another
existing session, and mirror everything that goes on in it. The existing session will
also mirror anything that goes on in the second on. I use this when connecting to the
server that runs my email from more than one place at once. It can also be useful for
debugging - log in as the user that's having problems, and connect to his or her
- Lock the screen: Hit Ctrl-A X to lock the screen; unlock it using your
You can also use the ~/.screenrc file to set persistent options, including to
start a set of windows up when screen launches. Check out the manpage and the
GNU screen wiki for more.
Juliet Kemp has been messing around with Linux systems, for financial reward and
otherwise, for about a decade. She is also the author of "Linux System Administration
Recipes: A Problem-Solution Approach" (Apress, 2009).
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