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Linux Screen

Apr 2020


When using Linux via SSH, if you get disconnected then you cannot rejoin that session. So if you were doing something like downloading a large file, then you can not reconnect to see the progress (the download would have stopped anyway once you disconnected).

This guide is based around CentOS7 (or RedHat).

Screen is a 'Terminal Multiplexer' which means you can start Screen and then open terminal windows. These windows will stay open if you disconnect and you can reconnect with them when you next join.

Check for Screen

Sounds great, do I have Screen?

From a terminal in Linux, enter the following:

  screen --version

If you see a version number in the format Screen version 4.01.00devel (GNU) 2-May-06, you are good to go, check out the section Using Screen. if you see the message screen: command not found then you will need to install screen.

Installing Screen

To install screen, open a terminal window and use the following command:

  sudo yum install screen -y

You will see something very similar to the following:

sudo yum install screen -y
Loaded plugins: fastestmirror
Determining fastest mirrors
epel/x86_64/metalink                                                                                                     | 8.3 kB  00:00:00
 * base:
 * epel:
 * extras:
 * updates:
base                                                                                                                     | 3.6 kB  00:00:00
epel                                                                                                                     | 4.7 kB  00:00:00
extras                                                                                                                   | 2.9 kB  00:00:00
updates                                                                                                                  | 2.9 kB  00:00:00
(1/7): base/7/x86_64/group_gz                                                                                            | 153 kB  00:00:00
(2/7): extras/7/x86_64/primary_db                                                                                        | 190 kB  00:00:00
(3/7): updates/7/x86_64/primary_db                                                                                       | 120 kB  00:00:00
(4/7): epel/x86_64/updateinfo                                                                                            | 1.0 MB  00:00:00
(5/7): epel/x86_64/group_gz                                                                                              |  95 kB  00:00:00
(6/7): base/7/x86_64/primary_db                                                                                          | 6.1 MB  00:00:01
(7/7): epel/x86_64/primary_db                                                                                            | 6.8 MB  00:00:02
Resolving Dependencies
--> Running transaction check
---> Package screen.x86_64 0:4.1.0-0.25.20120314git3c2946.el7 will be installed
--> Finished Dependency Resolution

Dependencies Resolved

 Package                     Arch                        Version                                                Repository                 Size
 screen                      x86_64                      4.1.0-0.25.20120314git3c2946.el7                       base                      552 k

Transaction Summary
Install  1 Package

Total download size: 552 k
Installed size: 914 k
Downloading packages:
screen-4.1.0-0.25.20120314git3c2946.el7.x86_64.rpm                                                                       | 552 kB  00:00:00
Running transaction check
Running transaction test
Transaction test succeeded
Running transaction
  Installing : screen-4.1.0-0.25.20120314git3c2946.el7.x86_64                                                                               1/1
  Verifying  : screen-4.1.0-0.25.20120314git3c2946.el7.x86_64                                                                               1/1

  screen.x86_64 0:4.1.0-0.25.20120314git3c2946.el7


Using Screen

To start screen, simply use:


You can check what screen commands are available by: Press CTRL+a (let go of all keys) then hit ?

                                                     Screen key bindings, page 1 of 1.

                                                       Command key:  ^A   Literal ^A:  a

break       ^B b       flow        ^F f       lockscreen  ^X x       pow_break   B          screen      ^C c       width       W
clear       C          focus       ^I         log         H          pow_detach  D          select      '          windows     ^W w
colon       :          hardcopy    h          login       L          prev        ^H ^P p ^? silence     _          wrap        ^R r
copy        ^[ [       help        ?          meta        a          quit        \          split       S          writebuf    >
detach      ^D d       history     { }        monitor     M          readbuf     <          suspend     ^Z z       xoff        ^S s
digraph     ^V         info        i          next        ^@ ^N sp n redisplay   ^L l       time        ^T t       xon         ^Q q
displays    *          kill        K k        number      N          remove      X          title       A
dumptermcap .          lastmsg     ^M m       only        Q          removebuf   =          vbell       ^G
fit         F          license     ,          other       ^A         reset       Z          version     v

^]   paste .
"    windowlist -b
-    select -
0    select 0
1    select 1
2    select 2
3    select 3
4    select 4
5    select 5
6    select 6
7    select 7
8    select 8
9    select 9
I    login on
O    login off
]    paste .
|    split -v
:kB: focus prev

Starting a “Named Session”

You can name your screen sessions, which makes it easier to find the one you were in, you can do this using the following syntax:

  screen -S session_name

For example screen -S Orca

You will not see a lot happen, but a new window has opened and you are in a new session.

When you start a new screen session, it creates a single window with a shell in it.

You can have multiple windows inside a Screen session.

To create a new window with shell, type Ctrl+a then c, the first available number from the range 0…9 will be assigned to it.

Below are some most common commands for managing Linux Screen Windows:

  Ctrl+a c Create a new window (with shell)
  Ctrl+a " List all window
  Ctrl+a 0 Switch to window 0 (by number )
  Ctrl+a A Rename the current window
  Ctrl+a S Split current region horizontally into two regions
  Ctrl+a | Split current region vertically into two regions
  Ctrl+a tab Switch the input focus to the next region
  Ctrl+a Ctrl+a Toggle between the current and previous region
  Ctrl+a Q Close all regions but the current one
  Ctrl+a X Close the current region

Detach from Linux Screen Session

You can detach from the screen session at any time by typing:

  Ctrl+a d

The program running in the screen session will continue to run after you detach from the session.

Reattach to a Linux Screen

To resume your screen session use the following command: (and this is the whole point of this article :) )

  screen -r

In case you have multiple screen sessions running on your machine, you will need to append the screen session ID after the r switch.

To find the session ID list the current running screen sessions with:

  screen -ls

Output is: (your session numbers/names will differ)

There are screens on:
    10835.pts-0.linuxize-desktop   (Detached)
    10366.pts-0.linuxize-desktop   (Detached)
2 Sockets in /run/screens/S-linuxize.

If you want to restore screen 10835.pts-0, then type the following command:

  screen -r 10835

Plagurised from : (i do this in case their site goes down/gets closed etc).

wiki/screen.txt · Last modified: 2023/03/09 22:35 by