GNU Screen

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GNU Screen
Developer(s) GNU Project
Initial release 1987
Stable release 4.2.1 (April 27, 2014; 7 months ago (2014-04-27)) [±]
Preview release None [±]
Written in C
Operating system Unix-like
Available in ?
Type Terminal multiplexer
License GNU GPL v3

GNU Screen is a software application that can be used to multiplex several virtual consoles, allowing a user to access multiple separate terminal sessions inside a single terminal window or remote terminal session. It is useful for dealing with multiple programs from a command line interface, and for separating programs from the Unix shell that started the program.

Released under the terms of version 3 or later of the GNU General Public License, GNU Screen is free software.


Further information: Terminal multiplexer

GNU Screen can be thought of as a text version of graphical window managers, or as a way of putting virtual terminals into any login session. It is a wrapper that allows multiple text programs to run at the same time, and provides features that allow the user to use the programs within a single interface productively. This enables the following features: persistence, multiple windows, and session sharing.

Screen is often used when a network connection to the terminal is unreliable, as a dropped network connection typically terminates all programs the user was running. Running the applications under screen means that the applications don't even know the terminal has detached, and allows the user to reattach the session later and continue working from where they left off.


Screen was originally designed by Oliver Laumann and Carsten Bormann and published in 1987.[1]

Design criteria included VT100 emulation (including ANSI X3.64 (ISO 6429) and ISO 2022) and reasonable performance for heavy daily use when character-based terminals were still common. Later, the at-the-time novel feature of disconnection/reattachment was added.

Ca. 1990 Oliver Laumann handed over maintenance of the code to Jürgen Weigert and Michael Schroeder at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, who later moved the project to the GNU Project and added features such as split-screen, cut-and-paste, and screen-sharing.[2]

See also[edit]

  • xpra: a tool that lets you run X Window System applications on one machine, disconnect them from that machine's display, then reconnect them to another machine's display.
  • Byobu (software): a frontend for GNU Screen
  • tmux: a terminal multiplexer with keybindings similar to GNU Screen's[citation needed]

Further reading[edit]



External links[edit]