General Information

Screen is a “full-screen window manager that multiplexes a physical terminal between several processes”. (screen man page)

This allows you to have multiple virtual terminal “workspaces” within 1 actual terminal session.


  • Distro(s): Any
  • Package: screen

yum install screen
apt-get install screen

2) Start a screen session

screen -S MySession

Screen may or may not show some startup dialog, but once you are past that, it will look just like a normal terminal prompt.

3) To view a list of all key bindings:

Ctrl+a, then ?

The listed commands have multiple ways of being executed. You only have to press “Ctrl+a” and then the key letter for the desired action. Press Space ore Enter to leave the help screen.

Start top in one screen, create a new screen, and cycle between the two.

Start top


Create a new screen

Ctrl+a, then c

You will be on the new screen session. Do something else to see the difference:

free -m

Now, you can cycle between the two screen sessions by doing this:

Ctrl+a, then n

You will notice that top was never interrupted, it was running the entire time on its screen session.

The real power of screen is detaching a session and connecting back to it later.

Detach scenarios:

  • Intentionally detach screen
  • Be working on a remote system and get a SSH/network interruption

In either scenario, you can reconnect to your still running screen session without loosing any work. Perfect for long running processes or scripts.

This can be demonstrated by executing a for loop that echos a number, sleeps for 1 second, and then keeps going.

1) If it is not open still, start screen

screen -s MySession

2) Start a long for loop…this should take about 5 minutes to complete.

for NUM in {1..300}
do echo -e "Number is: ${NUM}"
echo "Sleeping for 1 second..."
sleep 1

3) Detach from screen after it has started.

Ctrl+a, then d

4) List screen processes for your user.

screen -ls

This will give you output similar to the following:

bill@dt-bill ~ $ screen -ls
There is a screen on:
	19734.MySession	(03/09/2015 11:13:38 PM)	(Detached)
1 Socket in /var/run/screen/S-bill.
ps -ef | grep 19734
bill     19734     1  0 23:13 ?        00:00:00 SCREEN -S MySession

You can see that the number is indeed a process ID.

5) Reattach to the screen using the session name or process id:

screen -r MySession
screen -r 19734

Note: You only have to specify the screen PID if you have multiple screen sessions detached and you are connecting to a specific one. (If only 1 screen session, you can just type “screen -r”)

You should find your still running for loop, chugging away.

If you started a new screen session without specifying a name or want to rename a session:

1) Attach to your session

screen -r MySession

2) Command Key, then colon

Ctrl+A :

3) Type sessionname MyNewName, then enter

:sessionname MyNewName
  • linux_wiki/screen.txt
  • Last modified: 2019/05/25 23:50
  • (external edit)