Difference between revisions of "GNU Screen"

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[[Category:System administration]]
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[[Category:Terminal emulators]]
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[[ja:GNU Screen]]
 
[[ru:GNU Screen]]
 
[[ru:GNU Screen]]
 
[[zh-CN:GNU Screen]]
 
[[zh-CN:GNU Screen]]
[http://www.gnu.org/s/screen/ GNU Screen] is a wrapper that allows separation between the text program and the shell from which it was launched. This allows the user to, for example, start a text program in a terminal in X, kill X, and continue to interact with the program. Here are a couple of tips and tricks you may be interested in.
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{{Related articles start}}
 +
{{Related|tmux}}
 +
{{Related articles end}}
 +
[http://www.gnu.org/s/screen/ GNU Screen] is a wrapper that allows separation between the text program and the shell from which it was launched. This allows the user to, for example, start a text program in a terminal in X, kill X, and continue to interact with the program.
  
 
== Installation ==
 
== Installation ==
  
GNU Screen can be [[pacman|installed]] using the {{pkg|screen}} package found in the [[Official Repositories|official repositories]].
+
GNU Screen can be [[pacman|installed]] using the {{pkg|screen}} package found in the [[official repositories]].
  
 
== Usage ==  
 
== Usage ==  
Commands are entered pressing {{keypress|ctrl+a}} and then the key binding.  
+
 
 +
Commands are entered pressing the "escape key" {{ic|ctrl+a}} and then the key binding.
 +
 
 +
Some users find the default escape key {{ic|ctrl+a}} inconvenient. The escape key can be changed to another key as [[#Change_the_escape_key|described below]].
 +
 
 
=== Common Commands ===
 
=== Common Commands ===
* {{keypress|ctrl+a}} {{keypress|?}} Displays commands and its defaults (VERY important)
+
 
* {{keypress|ctrl+a}} {{keypress|:}} Enter to the command prompt of screen
+
* {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|?}} Displays commands and its defaults (VERY important)
* {{keypress|ctrl+a}} {{keypress|"}} Window list
+
* {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|:}} Enter to the command prompt of screen
* {{keypress|ctrl+a}} {{keypress|0}} opens window 0
+
* {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|"}} Window list
* {{keypress|ctrl+a}} {{keypress|A}} Rename the current window
+
* {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|0}} opens window 0
* {{keypress|ctrl+a}} {{keypress|a}} Sends {{keypress|ctrl+a}} to the current window
+
* {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|A}} Rename the current window
* {{keypress|ctrl+a}} {{keypress|c}} Create a new window (with shell)
+
* {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|a}} Sends {{ic|ctrl+a}} to the current window
* {{keypress|ctrl+a}} {{keypress|S}} Split current region into two regions
+
* {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|c}} Create a new window (with shell)
* {{keypress|ctrl+a}} {{keypress|tab}} Switch the input focus to the next region
+
* {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|S}} Split current region into two regions
* {{keypress|ctrl+a}} {{keypress|ctrl+a}} Toggle between current and previous region
+
* {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|tab}} Switch the input focus to the next region
* {{keypress|ctrl+a}} {{keypress|Esc}} Enter Copy Mode (use enter to select a range of text)
+
* {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|ctrl+a}} Toggle between current and previous region
* {{keypress|ctrl+a}} {{keypress|]}} Paste text
+
* {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|Esc}} Enter Copy Mode (use enter to select a range of text)
* {{keypress|ctrl+a}} {{keypress|Q}} Close all regions but the current one
+
* {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|]}} Paste text
* {{keypress|ctrl+a}} {{keypress|X}} Close the current region
+
* {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|Q}} Close all regions but the current one
* {{keypress|ctrl+a}} {{keypress|d}} Detach from the current screen session, and leave it running. Use {{ic|screen -r}} to resume
+
* {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|X}} Close the current region
 +
* {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|d}} Detach from the current screen session, and leave it running. Use {{ic|screen -r}} to resume
 +
 
 +
=== Command Prompt Commands ===
 +
 
 +
* {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|:quit}} Closes all windows and closes screen session
 +
* {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|:source ~/.screenrc}} Reloads screenrc configuration file (can alternatively use /etc/screenrc)
 +
 
 +
=== Named sessions ===
 +
 
 +
To create a named session, run screen with the following command:
 +
 
 +
$ screen -S ''session_name''
 +
 
 +
To (re)name an existing a session, run the following command while screen is running:
 +
 
 +
{{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|:sessionname ''session_name''}} 
 +
 
 +
To print a list of ''pid.tty.host'' strings identifying your screen sessions:
 +
 
 +
$ screen -list
 +
 
 +
To attach to a named screen session, run this command:
 +
 
 +
$ screen -x ''session_name''
 +
 
 +
or
 +
 
 +
$ screen -r ''session_name''
 +
 
 +
=== Autostart with systemd ===
 +
 
 +
This service autostarts screen for the specified user (e.g. {{ic|systemctl enable screen@florian}}). Running this as a system unit is important, because [[systemd/User|systemd --user]] instance is not guaranteed to be running and will be killed when the last session for given user is closed.
 +
 
 +
{{hc|/etc/systemd/system/screen@.service|<nowiki>
 +
[Unit]
 +
Description=screen
 +
After=network.target
 +
 
 +
[Service]
 +
Type=simple
 +
User=%i
 +
ExecStart=/usr/bin/screen -DmS autoscreen
 +
ExecStop=/usr/bin/screen -S autoscreen -X quit
 +
 
 +
[Install]
 +
WantedBy=multi-user.target
 +
</nowiki>}}
  
 
== Tips and tricks ==
 
== Tips and tricks ==
 +
 
=== Change the escape key ===
 
=== Change the escape key ===
The escape key can be changed with the {{ic|escape}} option in {{ic|~/.screenrc}}. For example:
 
{{bc|escape ``}}
 
  
sets the escape key to {{Keypress|`}}.
+
It can be a good idea to change the default escape key, not only because "a" is usually typed with the left pinky, but also because {{ic|ctrl+a}} is mapped to the common command {{ic|beginning-of-line}} in [[readline|GNU Readline]] and [[Bash]]-like shells.
 +
 
 +
The escape key can be changed with the {{ic|escape}} option in {{ic|~/.screenrc}}, or the {{ic|-e}} option to {{ic|screen}}.
 +
 
 +
For example, if you find that you rarely type {{ic|ctrl+j}} in your shell or editor, you could use {{ic|escape ^Jj}} to set the escape key to {{ic|ctrl-j}}. The second "j" means that a literal {{ic|ctrl-j}} can be sent to the terminal via the sequence {{ic|ctrl-j j}}. For [[Dvorak]] keyboard users, {{ic|ctrl-t}} ({{ic|escape ^Tt}}) might be more convenient.
 +
 
 +
More exotic options include {{ic|escape ``}} which sets the escape key to {{ic|`}}, or {{ic|escape ^^^}} which sets it to {{ic|ctrl+^}}.
 +
 
 +
The escape key is also called the "command character" in Screen documentation.
  
 
=== Start at window 1 ===
 
=== Start at window 1 ===
 +
 
By default, the first screen window is 0. If you'd rather never have a window 0 and start instead with 1, add the following lines on your configuration:
 
By default, the first screen window is 0. If you'd rather never have a window 0 and start instead with 1, add the following lines on your configuration:
{{hc|$HOME/.screenrc|
+
 
 +
{{hc|~/.screenrc|
 
bind c screen 1
 
bind c screen 1
 
bind ^c screen 1
 
bind ^c screen 1
Line 42: Line 106:
 
screen 1
 
screen 1
 
}}
 
}}
 +
 
=== Nested Screen Sessions ===
 
=== Nested Screen Sessions ===
It is possible to get stuck in a nested screen session. A common scenario: you start an ssh session from within a screen session. Within the ssh session, you start screen. By default, the outer screen session that was launched first responds to {{keypress|ctrl+a}} commands. To send a command to the inner screen session, use {{keypress|ctrl+a}} {{keypress|a}}, followed by your command. For example:
+
 
* {{keypress|ctrl+a}} {{keypress|a}} {{keypress|d}} Detaches the inner screen session.
+
It is possible to get stuck in a nested screen session. A common scenario: you start an ssh session from within a screen session. Within the ssh session, you start screen. By default, the outer screen session that was launched first responds to {{ic|ctrl+a}} commands. To send a command to the inner screen session, use {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|a}}, followed by your command. For example:
* {{keypress|ctrl+a}} {{keypress|a}} {{keypress|K}} Kills the inner screen session.
+
* {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|a}} {{ic|d}} Detaches the inner screen session.
 +
* {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|a}} {{ic|K}} Kills the inner screen session.
  
 
=== Use 256 colors ===
 
=== Use 256 colors ===
By default, screen uses an 8-color terminal emulator. Use the following line to enable more colors, which is useful if you are using a more-capable terminal emulator:
+
 
{{hc|$HOME/.screenrc|
+
By default, screen uses an 8-color terminal emulator. To enable more colors, you need to be using a terminal that supports them and set the correct [http://aperiodic.net/screen/commands:term term] value. This will use [[wikipedia:Terminfo|terminfo]] to describe how the [[wikipedia:ANSI escape code|ANSI escape codes]] will be interpreted. An entry in the terminfo database structure must exist, {{Pkg|ncurses}} provides many common descriptions stored under {{ic|/usr/share/terminfo/}}.
 +
 
 +
First try the generic value:
 +
 
 +
{{hc|~/.screenrc|
 
term screen-256color
 
term screen-256color
 
}}
 
}}
  
If this fails to render 256 colors in [[xterm]], try the following instead:
+
If that does not work, try setting it based on the used terminal. When using [[xterm]]-based terminal:
{{hc|$HOME/.screenrc|<nowiki>
+
 
 +
{{hc|~/.screenrc|
 +
term xterm-256color
 +
}}
 +
 
 +
When using [[rxvt-unicode]]:
 +
 
 +
{{hc|~/.screenrc|
 +
term rxvt-unicode-256color
 +
}}
 +
 
 +
{{Note|{{ic|/usr/share/terminfo/r/rxvt-unicode-256color}} is provided by {{Pkg|rxvt-unicode-terminfo}}, which is installed as a dependency of {{Pkg|rxvt-unicode}}. However, if you log into a server via [[SSH]] and run ''screen'' there, this terminfo file might not be available on the server. In this case it is recommended to copy {{ic|/usr/share/terminfo/r/rxvt-unicode-256color}} on the server, it can be saved in {{ic|~/.terminfo}}.}}
 +
 
 +
As a last resort, try setting [http://aperiodic.net/screen/commands:termcapinfo termcapinfo] instead:
 +
 
 +
{{hc|~/.screenrc|<nowiki>
 
attrcolor b ".I"    # allow bold colors - necessary for some reason
 
attrcolor b ".I"    # allow bold colors - necessary for some reason
 
termcapinfo xterm 'Co#256:AB=\E[48;5;%dm:AF=\E[38;5;%dm'  # tell screen how to set colors. AB = background, AF=foreground
 
termcapinfo xterm 'Co#256:AB=\E[48;5;%dm:AF=\E[38;5;%dm'  # tell screen how to set colors. AB = background, AF=foreground
 
defbce on    # use current bg color for erased chars
 
defbce on    # use current bg color for erased chars
</nowiki>}}
 
 
=== Use 256 Colors with Rxvt-Unicode (urxvt) ===
 
If you are using {{pkg|rxvt-unicode}} from the [[Official Repositories|official repositories]], you may need to add this line in your {{ic|~/.screenrc}} to enable 256 colors while in screen.
 
{{hc|$HOME/.screenrc|<nowiki>
 
terminfo rxvt-unicode 'Co#256:AB=\E[48;5;%dm:AF=\E[38;5;%dm'
 
 
</nowiki>}}
 
</nowiki>}}
  
 
=== Informative statusbar ===
 
=== Informative statusbar ===
 +
 
The default statusbar may be a little lacking. You may find this one more helpful:
 
The default statusbar may be a little lacking. You may find this one more helpful:
{{hc|$HOME/.screenrc|<nowiki>
+
 
 +
{{hc|~/.screenrc|<nowiki>
 
hardstatus off
 
hardstatus off
 
hardstatus alwayslastline
 
hardstatus alwayslastline
 
hardstatus string '%{= kG}[ %{G}%H %{g}][%= %{= kw}%?%-Lw%?%{r}(%{W}%n*%f%t%?(%u)%?%{r})%{w}%?%+Lw%?%?%= %{g}][%{B} %m-%d %{W} %c %{g}]'
 
hardstatus string '%{= kG}[ %{G}%H %{g}][%= %{= kw}%?%-Lw%?%{r}(%{W}%n*%f%t%?(%u)%?%{r})%{w}%?%+Lw%?%?%= %{g}][%{B} %m-%d %{W} %c %{g}]'
 
</nowiki>}}
 
</nowiki>}}
 +
 +
Another possibility, taken from [http://www.fordfrog.com/2012/09/02/71/ frodfrog's blog] is:
 +
 +
{{hc|~/.screenrc|<nowiki>
 +
hardstatus alwayslastline '%{= G}[ %{G}%H %{g}][%= %{= w}%?%-Lw%?%{= R}%n*%f %t%?%{= R}(%u)%?%{= w}%+Lw%?%= %{= g}][ %{y}Load: %l %{g}][%{B}%Y-%m-%d %{W}%c:%s %{g}]'
 +
</nowiki>}}
 +
 
=== Turn welcome message off ===
 
=== Turn welcome message off ===
{{hc|$HOME/.screenrc|
+
 
 +
{{hc|~/.screenrc|
 
startup_message off
 
startup_message off
 
}}
 
}}
  
 
=== Turn your hardstatus line into a dynamic urxvt|xterm|aterm window title ===
 
=== Turn your hardstatus line into a dynamic urxvt|xterm|aterm window title ===
 +
 
This one is pretty simple; just switch your current {{ic|hardstatus}} line into a {{ic|caption}} line with notification, and edit accordingly:
 
This one is pretty simple; just switch your current {{ic|hardstatus}} line into a {{ic|caption}} line with notification, and edit accordingly:
{{hc|$HOME/.screenrc|<nowiki>
+
{{hc|~/.screenrc|<nowiki>
 
backtick 1 5 5 true
 
backtick 1 5 5 true
 
termcapinfo rxvt* 'hs:ts=\E]2;:fs=\007:ds=\E]2;\007'
 
termcapinfo rxvt* 'hs:ts=\E]2;:fs=\007:ds=\E]2;\007'
Line 91: Line 181:
  
 
===Use X scrolling mechanism===
 
===Use X scrolling mechanism===
The scroll buffer of GNU Screen can be accessed with {{keypress|ctrl+a}} {{keypress|[}}. However, this is very inconvenient. To use the scroll bar of e.g. xterm or konsole, add the following line:
+
 
{{hc|$HOME/.screenrc|
+
The scroll buffer of GNU Screen can be accessed with {{ic|ctrl+a}} {{ic|[}}. However, this is very inconvenient. To use the scroll bar of e.g. xterm or konsole, add the following line:
 +
{{hc|~/.screenrc|
 
termcapinfo xterm* ti@:te@
 
termcapinfo xterm* ti@:te@
 
}}
 
}}
  
=== Attatch an existing running program to screen ===
+
=== Attach an existing running program to screen ===
If you started a program outside screen, but now you would like it to be inside, you use '''reptyr''' to reparent the process from it's current tty to one inside screen.
+
 
 +
If you started a program outside screen, but now you would like it to be inside, you can use '''reptyr''' to reparent the process from it's current tty to one inside screen.
  
[[Pacman|Install]] the package {{Pkg|reptyr}} from the [[Official Repositories]].  
+
[[Install]] the package {{Pkg|reptyr}} from the [[official repositories]].  
  
 
Get the PID of the process (you can use {{ic|ps ax}} for that). Now just enter the PID as argument to reptyr inside a screen window.
 
Get the PID of the process (you can use {{ic|ps ax}} for that). Now just enter the PID as argument to reptyr inside a screen window.
 
{{bc|$ reptyr ''<pid>''}}
 
{{bc|$ reptyr ''<pid>''}}
  
===Add a GRUB entry to boot into Screen===
+
===Setting a different bash prompt while in screen===
{{Out of date|[https://www.archlinux.org/news/end-of-initscripts-support/ Initscripts] is deprecated, and the use of runlevels as well. Also, this instructions are for legacy GRUB}}
+
If you mostly use [[Xorg|X]] but occasionally want to run a Screen-as-window-manager session, here is one way to do it by adding a [[GRUB]] entry for Screen on a virtual console (text terminal).
+
  
GRUB allows you to designate what runlevel you want so we will use runlevel 4 for this purpose. Clone an appropriate GRUB entry and add a {{ic|4}} to the kernel boot parameters list, like so:
+
If you want a different bash prompt when in a screen session, add the following to your .bashrc:
{{bc|1=
+
# (0) Arch Linux
+
title  Arch Linux Screen
+
root  (hd0,2)
+
kernel /vmlinuz-linux root=/dev/disk/your_disk ro acpi_no_auto_ssdt irqpoll 4
+
initrd /initramfs-linux.img
+
}}
+
 
+
Add some entries to {{ic|/etc/inittab}} to indicate what should happen on runlevel 4, substituting your user name for <user>:
+
{{bc|# GNU Screen on runlevel 4
+
scr2:4:respawn:/sbin/mingetty --autologin <user> tty1 linux
+
}}
+
 
+
The above line uses mingetty to [[automatically login some user to a virtual console on startup]]. You will need to install the {{pkg|mingetty}} package from the [[Official Repositories|official repositories]]. The inittab line segments are separated by colons. The first part (scr*) is simply an id. The second part is the runlevel: This should only happen on runlevel 4 (which is not used in any default setup - 3 is by default for a tty login and 5 is for X). 'Respawn' causes init to repeat the command (i.e. autologin) if the user logs out.
+
We will need to see that nothing else happens on virtual console 1 when we use runlevel 4, so remove {{ic|4}} from the the first of the agetty lines:
+
 
+
{{bc|c1:235:respawn:/sbin/agetty -8 38400 vc/1 linux}}
+
 
+
Once we are logged in, we want to ensure that screen is started. Add the following to the end of your {{ic|~/.bash_profile}}:
+
 
{{bc|<nowiki>
 
{{bc|<nowiki>
vico="$(tty | grep -oE ....$)"
+
if [ -z $STY ]
case "$vico" in
+
then
  tty1) TERM=screen; exec /usr/bin/screen -R arch;;
+
        PS1="YOUR REGULAR PROMPT"
esac
+
else 
 +
        PS1="YOUR SCREEN PROMPT"
 +
fi
 
</nowiki>}}
 
</nowiki>}}
This checks for the current runlevel and will launch a screen session immediately after the automatic login if the runlevel is 4.
+
[http://serverfault.com/questions/257975/how-to-check-if-im-in-screen-session]
  
This can also be adapted to run screen on a virtual console next to X, simply checking for the current tty instead of the current runlevel. This checks to see if we are on virtual console 3:
+
===Turn off visual bell===
{{bc|<nowiki>
+
 
vico="$(tty | grep -oE ....$)"
+
With this setting, screen will not make an ugly screen flash instead of a bell sound.
case "$vico" in
+
{{hc|~/.screenrc|
  vc/3) TERM=screen; exec /usr/bin/screen;;
+
vbell off
esac
+
}}
</nowiki>}}
+
Set inittab/mingetty to automatically log in to vc/3 on runlevel 5 and you are set.
+
  
 
== Troubleshooting ==
 
== Troubleshooting ==
=== Fix Midnight Commander hard hang when starting in screen ===
 
In some cases (need deeper inspection) [https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=168076 old gpm bug] gets alive. So, then you try to run mc inside screen, you get a frozen screen window. Try to kill gpm daemon before starting mc and/or disable it in {{ic|/etc/[[rc.conf]]}}.
 
  
 
=== Fix for residual editor text ===
 
=== Fix for residual editor text ===
 +
 
When you open a text editor like nano in screen and then close it, the text may stay visible in your terminal. To fix this, put the following:
 
When you open a text editor like nano in screen and then close it, the text may stay visible in your terminal. To fix this, put the following:
{{hc|$HOME/.screenrc|
+
{{hc|~/.screenrc|
 
altscreen on
 
altscreen on
 
}}
 
}}
  
== See Also ==
+
=== Fix for Name column in windowlist only show "bash" ===
 +
add following to ~/.screenrc
 +
{{hc|head=~/.screenrc|output=windowlist string "%4n %h%=%f"}}
 +
 
 +
== See also ==
 +
 
 
* [http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20021114055617124 MacOSX Hints - Automatically using screen in your shell]
 
* [http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20021114055617124 MacOSX Hints - Automatically using screen in your shell]
* [http://en.gentoo-wiki.com/wiki/Screen Gentoo Wiki - Tutorial for screen]
+
* [http://wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/Screen Gentoo Wiki - Tutorial for screen]
 
* [https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=50647 Arch Forums - Regarding 256 color issue with urxvt]
 
* [https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=50647 Arch Forums - Regarding 256 color issue with urxvt]
 
* [https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=55618 Arch Forums - .screenrc configs with screenshots]
 
* [https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=55618 Arch Forums - .screenrc configs with screenshots]
* [[tmux]], another multiplexer
 
 
* [[Ratpoison|Ratpoison - A window manager based on gnu screen]]
 
* [[Ratpoison|Ratpoison - A window manager based on gnu screen]]
 
* [[Xpra|Xpra - An utility to detach/reattach X programs, in a way similar as screen does for command line based programs]]
 
* [[Xpra|Xpra - An utility to detach/reattach X programs, in a way similar as screen does for command line based programs]]

Latest revision as of 01:53, 10 July 2016

Related articles

GNU Screen is a wrapper that allows separation between the text program and the shell from which it was launched. This allows the user to, for example, start a text program in a terminal in X, kill X, and continue to interact with the program.

Installation

GNU Screen can be installed using the screen package found in the official repositories.

Usage

Commands are entered pressing the "escape key" ctrl+a and then the key binding.

Some users find the default escape key ctrl+a inconvenient. The escape key can be changed to another key as described below.

Common Commands

  • ctrl+a ? Displays commands and its defaults (VERY important)
  • ctrl+a : Enter to the command prompt of screen
  • ctrl+a " Window list
  • ctrl+a 0 opens window 0
  • ctrl+a A Rename the current window
  • ctrl+a a Sends ctrl+a to the current window
  • ctrl+a c Create a new window (with shell)
  • ctrl+a S Split current region into two regions
  • ctrl+a tab Switch the input focus to the next region
  • ctrl+a ctrl+a Toggle between current and previous region
  • ctrl+a Esc Enter Copy Mode (use enter to select a range of text)
  • ctrl+a ] Paste text
  • ctrl+a Q Close all regions but the current one
  • ctrl+a X Close the current region
  • ctrl+a d Detach from the current screen session, and leave it running. Use screen -r to resume

Command Prompt Commands

  • ctrl+a :quit Closes all windows and closes screen session
  • ctrl+a :source ~/.screenrc Reloads screenrc configuration file (can alternatively use /etc/screenrc)

Named sessions

To create a named session, run screen with the following command:

$ screen -S session_name

To (re)name an existing a session, run the following command while screen is running:

ctrl+a :sessionname session_name

To print a list of pid.tty.host strings identifying your screen sessions:

$ screen -list

To attach to a named screen session, run this command:

$ screen -x session_name

or

$ screen -r session_name

Autostart with systemd

This service autostarts screen for the specified user (e.g. systemctl enable screen@florian). Running this as a system unit is important, because systemd --user instance is not guaranteed to be running and will be killed when the last session for given user is closed.

/etc/systemd/system/screen@.service
[Unit]
Description=screen
After=network.target

[Service]
Type=simple
User=%i
ExecStart=/usr/bin/screen -DmS autoscreen
ExecStop=/usr/bin/screen -S autoscreen -X quit

[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target

Tips and tricks

Change the escape key

It can be a good idea to change the default escape key, not only because "a" is usually typed with the left pinky, but also because ctrl+a is mapped to the common command beginning-of-line in GNU Readline and Bash-like shells.

The escape key can be changed with the escape option in ~/.screenrc, or the -e option to screen.

For example, if you find that you rarely type ctrl+j in your shell or editor, you could use escape ^Jj to set the escape key to ctrl-j. The second "j" means that a literal ctrl-j can be sent to the terminal via the sequence ctrl-j j. For Dvorak keyboard users, ctrl-t (escape ^Tt) might be more convenient.

More exotic options include escape `` which sets the escape key to `, or escape ^^^ which sets it to ctrl+^.

The escape key is also called the "command character" in Screen documentation.

Start at window 1

By default, the first screen window is 0. If you'd rather never have a window 0 and start instead with 1, add the following lines on your configuration:

~/.screenrc
bind c screen 1
bind ^c screen 1
bind 0 select 10                                                            
screen 1

Nested Screen Sessions

It is possible to get stuck in a nested screen session. A common scenario: you start an ssh session from within a screen session. Within the ssh session, you start screen. By default, the outer screen session that was launched first responds to ctrl+a commands. To send a command to the inner screen session, use ctrl+a a, followed by your command. For example:

  • ctrl+a a d Detaches the inner screen session.
  • ctrl+a a K Kills the inner screen session.

Use 256 colors

By default, screen uses an 8-color terminal emulator. To enable more colors, you need to be using a terminal that supports them and set the correct term value. This will use terminfo to describe how the ANSI escape codes will be interpreted. An entry in the terminfo database structure must exist, ncurses provides many common descriptions stored under /usr/share/terminfo/.

First try the generic value:

~/.screenrc
term screen-256color

If that does not work, try setting it based on the used terminal. When using xterm-based terminal:

~/.screenrc
term xterm-256color

When using rxvt-unicode:

~/.screenrc
term rxvt-unicode-256color
Note: /usr/share/terminfo/r/rxvt-unicode-256color is provided by rxvt-unicode-terminfo, which is installed as a dependency of rxvt-unicode. However, if you log into a server via SSH and run screen there, this terminfo file might not be available on the server. In this case it is recommended to copy /usr/share/terminfo/r/rxvt-unicode-256color on the server, it can be saved in ~/.terminfo.

As a last resort, try setting termcapinfo instead:

~/.screenrc
attrcolor b ".I"    # allow bold colors - necessary for some reason
termcapinfo xterm 'Co#256:AB=\E[48;5;%dm:AF=\E[38;5;%dm'   # tell screen how to set colors. AB = background, AF=foreground
defbce on    # use current bg color for erased chars

Informative statusbar

The default statusbar may be a little lacking. You may find this one more helpful:

~/.screenrc
hardstatus off
hardstatus alwayslastline
hardstatus string '%{= kG}[ %{G}%H %{g}][%= %{= kw}%?%-Lw%?%{r}(%{W}%n*%f%t%?(%u)%?%{r})%{w}%?%+Lw%?%?%= %{g}][%{B} %m-%d %{W} %c %{g}]'

Another possibility, taken from frodfrog's blog is:

~/.screenrc
hardstatus alwayslastline '%{= G}[ %{G}%H %{g}][%= %{= w}%?%-Lw%?%{= R}%n*%f %t%?%{= R}(%u)%?%{= w}%+Lw%?%= %{= g}][ %{y}Load: %l %{g}][%{B}%Y-%m-%d %{W}%c:%s %{g}]'

Turn welcome message off

~/.screenrc
startup_message off

Turn your hardstatus line into a dynamic urxvt|xterm|aterm window title

This one is pretty simple; just switch your current hardstatus line into a caption line with notification, and edit accordingly:

~/.screenrc
backtick 1 5 5 true
termcapinfo rxvt* 'hs:ts=\E]2;:fs=\007:ds=\E]2;\007'
hardstatus string "screen (%n: %t)"
caption string "%{= kw}%Y-%m-%d;%c %{= kw}%-Lw%{= kG}%{+b}[%n %t]%{-b}%{= kw}%+Lw%1`"
caption always

This will give you something like screen (0 bash) in the title of your terminal emulator. The caption supplies the date, current time, and colorizes your screen window collection.

Use X scrolling mechanism

The scroll buffer of GNU Screen can be accessed with ctrl+a [. However, this is very inconvenient. To use the scroll bar of e.g. xterm or konsole, add the following line:

~/.screenrc
termcapinfo xterm* ti@:te@

Attach an existing running program to screen

If you started a program outside screen, but now you would like it to be inside, you can use reptyr to reparent the process from it's current tty to one inside screen.

Install the package reptyr from the official repositories.

Get the PID of the process (you can use ps ax for that). Now just enter the PID as argument to reptyr inside a screen window.

$ reptyr <pid>

Setting a different bash prompt while in screen

If you want a different bash prompt when in a screen session, add the following to your .bashrc:

if [ -z $STY ]
then
        PS1="YOUR REGULAR PROMPT"
else  
        PS1="YOUR SCREEN PROMPT"
fi

[1]

Turn off visual bell

With this setting, screen will not make an ugly screen flash instead of a bell sound.

~/.screenrc
vbell off

Troubleshooting

Fix for residual editor text

When you open a text editor like nano in screen and then close it, the text may stay visible in your terminal. To fix this, put the following:

~/.screenrc
altscreen on

Fix for Name column in windowlist only show "bash"

add following to ~/.screenrc

~/.screenrc
windowlist string "%4n %h%=%f"

See also