Getting acquainted with GNU screen

GNU screen is a very neat tool that's included in most Unix-like operating systems. It's a utility that acts as a basic command line window manager, so you can maintain several open terminal sessions within one physical terminal.

You may ask me at this point why you need to do that when most graphical terminal programs have tabs for multiple sessions, but there are many occasions where GNU screen can be a better choice (for example, when working over SSH so you don't have to open multiple SSH connections). On top of that screen also boasts features such as being able to save console sessions even when your connection is lost.

It can be a tad tricky to get started with, but thankfully over at Kuro5hin, there is a great tutorial available that can quickly get you up and running using screen.

Screen is best described as a terminal multiplexer. Using it, you can run any number of console-based applications--interactive command shells, curses-based applications, text editors, etc.--within a single terminal. The desire to do this is what gets most people hooked on screen. I used to start a half-dozen terminal emulators when I logged into my machine: I wanted one to read my email, one to edit my code, one to compile my code, one for my newsreader, one for a shell into my web host, and so on. Now I start one terminal emulator, and run screen in it. Problem solved.

The other main cool feature of screen is its ability to decouple the terminal emulator from the running programs. This means that you can use screen to keep programs running after you accidentally close the terminal emulator, or even after you log out, and later resume right where you were. It means that the idea of a "session" in which you are running a number of console programs is a free-floating entity that you can bind to any terminal anywhere, or no terminal at all if you want.

The tutorial is well worth a look especially if you're a fairly new command line user that is starting to become proficient and wants to learn about the benefits of using screen.

Read it here.

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Avatar for peter Peter Upfold -

Peter Upfold is a technology enthusiast from the UK. Peter’s interest in Linux stems back to 2003, when curiosity got the better of him and he began using SUSE 9.0. Now he runs Linux Mint 9 on the desktop, runs a CentOS-based web server from home for his personal website and dabbles in all sorts of technology things across the Windows, Mac and open source worlds.

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