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Software GNU is Not Unix Open Source

After a Long wait, GNU Screen Gets Refreshed 77

New submitter jostber (304257) writes "It's been a long wait, but now GNU Screen, the most useful CLI windows manager around, is available. Version 4.2.1 was released a couple of days ago and the maintainer's release news is here." There are fewer commits than you might expect for software that's had six years since its last major update, but that could be because the developers have had 23 years to knock out the major bugs.
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After a Long wait, GNU Screen Gets Refreshed

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  • One question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by n1ywb ( 555767 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @01:26PM (#46869715) Homepage Journal
    Does it finally have vsplit?
    • by doti ( 966971 )

      Does it finally support 256 colors while running a screen inside a screen?

      I usually use two levels of screen, the top level has a screen for each project I'm working on, and the second level has some shells for each project (basically the first one is the editor, the second one is for building/testing, etc).

    • Re:One question (Score:5, Informative)

      by aardvarkjoe ( 156801 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @02:19PM (#46870415)

      The submitter used a link to the announcement of a 4.2.1 minor bugfix release, which isn't very informative if you want to know about new features in 4.2.x. They really should have linked to this announcement [] instead, which says:

      Hello everyone,
      it is my pleasure to announce release of GNU Screen v.4.2.0
      available at
      (I will also upload to as soon as my access is authorized)
      Many are probably using it due to their distributions packaging
      development versions, so they know at least some of changes.
      Short list of them:
        * layouts
        * window groups
        * better mouse support
        * vertical split
        * new and expanded commands
      For full list of changes please check Changelog.
      Please note that due to some changes it may be not possible to attach
      to sessions created with older binaries.
      With this I also plan to put v.4 into maintenance mode and start
      developing v.5 with cleaned up source code, new features (some already
      in development tree, currently outside of official repository):
        * 256 color hardstatus
        * truecolor
        * firstline hardstatus
        * top line caption
        and more
      Amadeusz Sławiński

      And the Changelog is here: [].

      • by Anonymous Coward

        > Amadeusz SÅawiÅski

        Jesus. Slashcode sucks. Why didn't Slashdot Beta add UTF8 support?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DocHoncho ( 1198543 )

          Because they're apparently too god damned stupid to just disallow the text direction character(s). The oft cited excuse for lack of unicode support is essentially, "Cuz the trolls would do nasty things," which is, as excuses go, pretty weak.

  • most useful? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Arathon ( 1002016 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @01:27PM (#46869729) Journal
    I've been using tmux for years now, so my experiential data say no.
    • Seconded. I always think of screen as 'that thing people used before tmux that too many bugs to actually be useable'. What's it got now that tmux lacks, other than an obnoxious license?
      • Re:most useful? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Junta ( 36770 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @02:25PM (#46870485)

        To my knowledge for screen:
        -screen can target ptys/realserial ports. Useful alternative to minicom or similar. Nowadays it's the most likely application to be installed 'by chance' with that capability (once upon a time, I would generally find cu, but that's almost never around by chance anymor)
        -a split screen can have different people typing concurrently in different panes.

        tmux more gracefully handles multiple terminal sizes connecting and tends to keep you from leaving a shared attach behind when you start trying to do split and such. tmux naturally understands terminal title set sequence and has more handy access to a lot of the best tricks. So 95% of the time tmux hits what is more important to me, but I do get a bit put out when I have a desire to take care of one of the above cases.

      • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

        You mean the license that keeps the project free for everyone and does not allow someone to close it and then compete against the authors or anyone else who chooses to develop it? Unless you're planning to sell a modified version, why do you care? Use it if it suits your needs. If not, don't.

    • Re:most useful? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by doti ( 966971 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @01:56PM (#46870129) Homepage

      I hear tmux is more "modern", but I still use screen because, well, I'm used to it, and it works.

      What tmux does that screen doesn't?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        try byobu, you will thank me

        • by davek ( 18465 )

          try byobu, you will thank me

          You can use screen as the backend of byobu too. But, in my experience, byobu doesn't really give you anything, especially if you don't like having status bars at the bottom of my terminal. ALL menus, status bars, menus, etc. go on the top. Always.

      • by mcrbids ( 148650 )

        Two words: Synchronized Panes []. For nothing else, this is enough.

        Need to do a semi-repetitive task that's not quite annoying enough to script on a bunch of servers? TMUX to the rescue! You can open 10 windows to 10 different servers, and synchronize what you type so it shows up on all screens, or click on an individual screen to run just that command there.

        For boring admin chores, it's a god-send.

    • This bug [] (“broken support for unicode plane 1”), reported almost five years ago, made me switch from screen to tmux.

      And the bug is still there.

    • Agreed 100%. Learned of tmux and how much more bad ass it was than screen back around 2010, never looked back. For a few years now I've used a highly-customized .tmux.conf file that mimics screen's "ctrl-a" behavior, among other things, so that I don't lose a step when I absolutely MUST use screen (e.g., at work where more people are familiar with it than tmux). Pretty much all my work (and leisure) activity is done via tmux these days, saves me lot's of time when trying to remember something I did or se

      • Probably explains why I never heard of it then...I last used screen in probably 2008 or 2009 when I would leave the console of a counterstrike or TF2 server in a screen session.

        Was always a handy tool...I just haven't had reason to use it since about the last time it was updated.

    • Is there a tmux equivalent to "screen -DR" ? If so, I might try it out.
      • by tuffy ( 10202 )
        tmux runs on a client-server type architecture and every command can be sent to a running instance via the tmux command itself.
      • by Mousit ( 646085 )

        Is there a tmux equivalent to "screen -DR" ? If so, I might try it out.

        Not exactly, no. I REALLY liked this particular flag combo in screen, and it's the one thing that tmux doesn't do natively that I miss (but I still use tmux because of all the other happiness it brings me). I even opened a ticket on the lack of this functionality but the answer I got back was basically "I'm not looking to just emulate screen so exact functionality may not be added."

        tmux has an option to detach other sessions when you attach yours, but it ONLY detaches. There is not a "detach AND log ou

        • More compact: tmux at -d || tmux

          • by Mousit ( 646085 )

            More compact: tmux at -d || tmux

            That merely detaches other sessions. It does not detach AND log them out, which is what screen -DR does. The only way I know to do a detach-and-logout is with the "detach-session -P" option.

      • This is what I use.
        alias tm='tmux att || tmux'
  • by jandrese ( 485 )
    Does it finally handle curses applications properly? Or does the screen management still get mangled?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What's it look like?

    • Re:No screenshots (Score:5, Informative)

      by harrkev ( 623093 ) <> on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @01:51PM (#46870045) Homepage

      Screen is actually surprisingly useful.

      You can throw jobs off to a "screen" instance that can run happily. Then, if you have to VPN in from home, you can grab the screen and pick up where you left off. Combine this with "nohup" and you can have jobs that run even when you log off, and you can regain console control from them at any time.

      In short, it is the "vnc" of the terminal world.

      • Re:No screenshots (Score:4, Interesting)

        by PrimaryConsult ( 1546585 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @02:12PM (#46870331)

        Also similar to VNC, you can allow other users read only access to your screen session. Useful for a classroom instruction scenario, or collaboration among remote employees.

        A more niche but still useful feature is the ability to connect to the same screen session from multiple locations simultaneously. Generally I prefer to work from a Linux box, but whenever I need to copy/paste with outlook, having the same session open on a Windows box is quite helpful...

        • Generally I prefer to work from a Linux box, but whenever I need to copy/paste with outlook, having the same session open on a Windows box is quite helpful...

          Yep. It's great for that. But if the machines have screens on the same desk or around the room, then for copy/paste and input sharing I'll also have Synergy. []

      • by erice ( 13380 )

        Screen is actually surprisingly useful.

        You can throw jobs off to a "screen" instance that can run happily. Then, if you have to VPN in from home, you can grab the screen and pick up where you left off. Combine this with "nohup" and you can have jobs that run even when you log off, and you can regain console control from them at any time.

        Why do you need nohup? Just detach and log off. Whatever jobs you have running on that screen will keep running and you can re-attach the next time you login from wherever that may be.

        Really, the only time I use nohup is when I need to run a job detached on a system were screen is not installed. Usually this is preceded by a brief weighing of the pros and cons of fetching and installing screen for what seems like a one-time need.

      • by devman ( 1163205 )
        Agree with everything you said. My first encounter with screen I first installed Linux to run a headless Counter-Strike server. It is a great solution to being able to ssh in to a box, start the server and log off. It also allowed other admins to log in and assume the screen if they needed to.
    • I actually use screen for its screenshotting ability. I have a series of unit tests which are an expect script that runs a reference program in screen, takes a snapshot and then runs the target program takes another screenshot and then compares the two to make sure they match.
  • a bit late (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    uh what

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @01:38PM (#46869857)

    I use screen every single day. But it has aged, and not that well. Also, the quality of the job it does is directly dependent on how good the $TERM and ncurses stack is, and that varies wildly. It used to be much worse, but it can still be rather bad if you have to shell to old crap. Or the bells-and-whistles piece of crap that passes as a terminal emulator in the frisky desktop-environment is buggy (easy to work around: open an xterm).

    The usual alternative to screen is tmux (, which is much newer and has a better feature set. Google for "tmux versus screen". It also had the advantage of a non-dead upstream, but I hope GNU screen upstream is back into highly active mode for good...

    • by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @01:57PM (#46870155)
      Still no serial support in tmux, so embedded developers need to use screen.
    • I only use mate-terminal and lxterminal, they never seem to fail me. But I once had a screen years ago that refused to resize (not fun on the 80x25 text mode console), I don't remember if I found a way to scroll it or if just coughed it up. Hasn't happened since.

      xterm has been a fallback for me in Unity.. I can't find the terminal emulator in Unity and don't know its name, so I launch xterm instead. (yeah I think Unity's terminal emulator showed up in the "lens" eventually, but why bother)

    • by anarcat ( 306985 )

      so maybe it's just google profiling me, but "tmux versus screen" doesn't yield any interesting results.

      in fact, it lead me back here.

      what *are* the so great things about tmux that should make me give up a ~20 year old habit?

  • by big_e_1977 ( 2012512 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @02:18PM (#46870409)

    After a Long wait, GNU Screen Gets ^L

  • I know I shouldn't. But every time I use it, I get trapped and have to pull up another xterm/console to kill it. It wouldn't be so bad if the "quit" commands were the first thing in the man page. And why ^A? I use ^A for 'start-of-line' all the time, and get annoyed when I realize it didn't work after I finished my paragraph. Now, ^X^C (no), F10 (no), ~. (no), M:q! (no), ^Q (no), M-F4 (no) argh!
  • Most useful? (Score:1, Informative)

    The most useful? You mean tmux? Not this old antiquated, bug ridden piece of code, right?

  • Screen is just another kind of these programs like Vim and Emacs, by which I mean obscure UNIX programs which just hamper your workflow with their clunkiness and extremely awkward keyboard shortcuts. These programs actually have blazing features, but they just throw usability out of window and have a terrible learning curve. Sure, these are command line tools and they are not even expected to be the clicky-click fun multimedia experience, but for example the shortcut to deattach a screen, a very common feat

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.