Talk:GNU Screen

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Axe what?[edit]

The tutorial certainly does not belong in Wikipedia. Wikipedia is not a howto. But is the subject really noteworth enough, anyway? --Egil 19:59, 15 August 2005 (UTC)

A simple quickstart could be helpful and relevant. Not much point making this an entire manual, mind you- GNU didn't provide one. --MichaelSoulier 02:07, 5 September 2005 (UTC)
I removed the quickstart/tutorial section, the removed text can be found here. Quickstarts aren't included in articles like VNC or Mozilla Firefox, or in encyclopedias generally (wikipedia is not an instruction manual). Tutorials/quickstarts should be located in External links or Wikibooks (example: wikibooks:Programming), and at this point we have at least two external links that cover that info. I've left the {{cleanup}} tag because the numbered list should probably be converted to paragraph form to better suit the encyclopedia. --Interiot 11:54, 28 November 2005 (UTC)
While I agree that detailed manuals should be linked to (and not included), I see no reason for a minimal set of most-frequently used commands to appear in the article. See Emacs, bzip2, and many other articles on CLI-based programs. A good rule of thumb seems to be whether the how-to mainly serves to better the description of the topic at hand. Perhaps the old version was getting long and/or not serving that purpose. But certainly some amount of available commands would help the description. -- Karnesky 22:05, 28 November 2005 (UTC)
I second that. A minimalistic key of commands really helps convey the "flavor" of a program, which is part of an article upon its duties. --Maru (talk) Contribs 00:23, 29 November 2005 (UTC)
I'd prefer to leave it out, because I think that instructional material almost never belongs in an encyclopedia (except for things like regular expression where some syntax minutae is fairly central to understanding the topic). And Egil might have agreed (the tutorial section was still fairly small when s/he protested).
This isn't a programming language that needs to distinguish itself by syntactical flavor; it's a fairly unique program that's distinguished by its features. And I don't know that the bzip2 article is necessarily an ideal to move towards. But if we must include a minimal set of commands, the Emacs example isn't too bad, since it has a somewhat short (13 line) table that's visually distinct and therefore very easy to skip over if the reader wants to. --Interiot 07:02, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

Kind of software[edit]

I have just changed where it said GNU Screen was open source, to free software, as this is more accurate. The GNU project makes free-software. -Josh

All Free software is open source software but not all open source software is Free software... --maru (talk) Contribs 05:52, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes but Free-Software is a subset of open-source. As it is a GNU project I think free-software is more accurate, anyway I'm sure there wouldn't be any disagreements about this. -Josh
Is it better to name the subset category (in this case free software) rather than the superset category (open source), since the subset term gives us more information? Eg. we could use a superset of opensource and call it "software", but that would provide even less information... — Preceding unsigned comment added by Zenaan (talkcontribs) 09:25, 24 June 2012 (UTC)


Anyone know how old screen is? I tried checking the changelogs, but they start at version 2.3, and don't include any dates. I've been an active user since the early 90s, but I think it's much older than that? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Marcusramberg (talkcontribs)

1987, according to the copyright & usenet post --Karnesky 18:05, 11 September 2006 (UTC)

As I mention below, I first started using "screen" when it was version 2.3pre7 and that was in 1990/1991. I continued to use this version for a long long time....

So you might say that "screen" is at least now old enough to (in some countries) buy a beer at a bar :) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:08, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

The referenced new.sources posting doesn't mention GPL - anyone know when the license changed? Tedickey (talk) 10:07, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
Haven't double-checked anything, but Abram Hindle discusses screen's history. 2.1b apparently had license confusion (devs stating that it was under the GPL, but shipped with an MIT-style license), 3.2 definitely shipped with the GPL, and 3.1.1 might have (the latter according to ChangeLog). All of this was in 1991/1992. --Karnesky (talk) 13:13, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

I'm the author of the original version of screen. Unfortunately, I can't recall anymore when exactly I published the first version (in either net.sources or mod.sources). It probably was in 1987, because in that year screen began to appear in my e-mail communication (I still have most of my mail folders from that time online). The only version of screen that I still have is 2.1; earlier versions are lost. There doesn't appear to be a changelog or something similar in 2.1 -- I guess we didn't have RCS yet. Around 1990 I stopped developing screen due to lack of time. Two folks from the University of Erlangen continued work on screen and later put it under the GNU license. -- Oliver Laumann, —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:41, 30 January 2009 (UTC)

There's reference in attacher.c to: /* -- original copyright by Luigi Cannelloni 1985 (luigi@faui70.UUCP) -- */ (don't think that address might still be active so we could ask...) Gushi (talk) 09:05, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

Early screen version history as reconstructed from comp.sources.unix archive[edit]

The information in the following table was gleaned from archives of the newsgroup comp.sources.unix on the ISC's FTP server. All dates are converted to YYYY-MM-DD from their original forms. At least two versions are available below predate the 2.1 code still possessed by the poster above at ("Oliver Laumann").

While the history of screen (also linked above) contains a wealth of historical material, I felt the sources for his table of versions remain a bit unclear. Only one of the releases in the table below (3.5.0) appears in Hindle's list of released versions. Further, the versions and dates below are open to verification by anyone and the source code may contain additional useful historical information. Enjoy!

Version/Link Archive file date Shar Date Posting Date Dev Date Comments
screen-1.1i 1987-08-07 - 1987-08-07 1987-07-01 Dev date from ScreenVersion string in screen.c.
The .TH macro in the manpage lists the date 1987-03-02.
Primary dev: Oliver Laumann <seismo!tub!net>
screen-2.0a 1989-02-07 - - 1988-10-19 Dev date from ScreenVersion string in screen.c.
screen-3.1.1 1991-12-20 1991-12-19 - 1991-10-03 Dev date from patchlevel.h.
patchlevel.h also indicates this date is when the code was put under "GNU copyleft".
File "COPYING" contains GNU GPL "Version 1, February 1989".
Primary devs: Wayne Davison, Juergen Weigert and Michael Schroeder
O. Laumann credited as creator and 7 others listed as contributors in the manpage."
screen-3.5.0 1993-07-25 1993-07-25 - 1993-07-22 Archives incomplete.
Dev date from patchlevel.h.
In addition to O.L. credit and 3 main devs, 26 others are listed as contributors in the manpage.
screen-3.5.1 1993-08-08 1993-08-08 - 1993-08-08 Archives incomplete.
Dev date from patchlevel.h.
Primarily a bug fix release.

NOTE: For those who have not encountered them before, the files available at the archive links are in an old-school self-extracting archive format called shar. Source code was distributed on usenet for many years in this form. Some of the files are compressed with the old Unix 'compress' utility (.Z), but I believe most versions of gzip can handle uncompressing these files. --Dfred (talk) 18:03, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

GNU Screen?[edit]

Why does the article refer to screen as "GNU Screen" and claim that it is "developed by the GNU Project"? It is listed as GNU software at , but it's not called "GNU screen" even there (only a minority of the packages listed there have "GNU" in their names). The man page lists four authors and three copyright holders, all of whom are individuals (compare with e.g. groff, where the FSF holds the copyright).

(In case it's not clear, this is not an attack on GNU, the FSF or a certain hairy hacker – the wording just strikes me as misleading.)

JöG 19:39, 1 August 2007 (UTC)

It is called GNU screen on the project website and in many of the other links that are in this article. It also is pragmatic, as it makes article disambiguation easy. --Karnesky 03:57, 2 August 2007 (UTC)
Is there any other common program called "screen"? If not, then there is no ambiguity in moving it to something like "screen (program)" or "screen (Unix)" or something like that, right? I know many people who refer to it as "screen" and I have almost never seen anyone who says "GNU screen". --Spoon! 21:41, 20 September 2007 (UTC)
The same arbitrary argument could be levied against GNU arch, GNU Aspell, GNU GRUB, GNU General Public License, GNU IceWeasel, etc. I'm not a fan of prepending "GNU" to F/OSS, but I see no reason to move the article when the project, itself, and many reviews/tutorials refer to it as "GNU screen" (particularly as we'd have to append something to disambiguate screen if the GNU was removed). How would "screen (program)" or "screen (Unix)" be better than "GNU screen?" --Karnesky —Preceding signed but undated comment was added at 22:05, 20 September 2007 (UTC)
Well, if "GNU screen" isn't its name, then "screen (Unix)" is clearly a better article name. And I doubt if [1] can really be called "the project website"; can the project members edit it?. But you are right; many of the links call it GNU Screen. Surprisingly, because like I said, the program itself and its documentation (man page, changelog, README ...) never uses any name other than "screen" or "Screen". JöG 22:09, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
Is it possible that the links call it GNU Screen because that's what the wikipedia page says? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 12:47, 5 November 2013 (GMT)

"tmux" commonly refers to RFC 1692; there is a non-notable sourceforge project which has no wikipedia topic.

I wouldn't say tmux, the terminal emulator, is non-notable!!! Its pretty much standard issue in most debian and bsd distros these days. Also, there IS a wikipedia page for it.

So? Why not including all terminal multiplexers? Even the unknown ones. Idd, I should make clear that it is not about the RFC. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:10, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

There are several aspects: the topic for a particular program which appears to have been written a few months ago, having a few hundred hits via google (demonstrating that is a good advertising media) shouldn't displace a more widely used sense of the word (17000/300). The program has no WP topic, hasn't established notability. This is not to say that there aren't a lot of WP topics written by developers to promote their school project. But it's outside the guidelines... Tedickey (talk) 21:56, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

I've been using "screen" since version 2.3pre7 and that dates back to circa 1990 (before "screen" had cut-n-paste.) I don't know if it was GPL'd at that time but I can certainly do some digging. For as long as I can remember, it has always been known as "screen" - never "GNU screen" (I'd put this down to the FSF trying to rebrand a program such that they're explicity involved in mention of it.) As a long time user of "screen", I often find it confusing to see it called "GNU screen" because that's not its name. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:06, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

I've only been using screen for around 10 to 12 years (I think) - much less than many others here, and I'm pretty sure the name transition to "GNU screen" happened in that time. I remember clearly googling (or was it Altavista-ing :) for screen here and there, quite some years back and saying to myself "damn that's a bad name choice for searching; note to self, never choose generic word project name". I also seem to remember discovering the "gnu screen" name sometime later and thinking "now that's a useful change .. about time." I'm pretty sure the name change was not driven (at least primarily) politically. On occasion I still google for "gnu screen" (within quotes) and yet "man screen" in xterm. I oppose any move of the name back towards "screen" as a project name. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Zenaan (talkcontribs) 10:25, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

cite for GNU project[edit]

Linking to the ftp site doesn't answer the question: when did "screen" become a GNU project. For instance, an look at screen 3.7.4 finds no mention of this. Tedickey (talk) 01:50, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

By the way, 3.7.4's changelog contains no dates, either Tedickey (talk) 01:54, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

Hmm. This is a tough one. The earliest announcement on info-gnu referring to screen that I see is from 2004, though it was apparently hosted on in /pub/gnu in 1991. What exactly does it mean to be a GNU project? I was under the impression that the GNU project required copyright assignment. On the other hand, it was listed as being in /pub/non-gnu in August 2000, but in /gnu in March 2001. Maybe something happened in that interim? There's an old mailing list, but the archive is spotty and I don't know if there's anything relevant in there anyway. Maybe some enterprising soul should just write to the screen-devel mailing list and ask what the history is? Perhaps one of the developers can answer. (It's a public mailing list; the developers are reliable sources; it's citeable.) grendel|khan 16:40, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
Criteria for being hosted on has also evolved (though I don't recall the specific dates, I seem to recall noticing when the gnu/non-gnu trees were split, which would have been in the early 1990s but after 1991). It would be nice to have some pre-existing discussion on the mailing lists, of course. Tedickey (talk) 16:58, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

Design criteria included faithful VT100 emulation[edit]

That's what the manual page says. However - granted that was perhaps the original intent, but the goal was discarded long ago. ncurses for example makes workarounds for cases where screen doesn't provide "faithful VT100 emulation". That includes line-drawing, as well as several terminal entries which address places where screen gets confused about the difference between its model of emulation and the actual terminal. Rather than providing translation of function-keys from the original terminal, screen acts more as a filter, discarding things that it does not understand. For what it's worth, those differences are a nuisance when detaching a screen session from one terminal emulator and attaching to another. TEDickey (talk) 12:08, 22 November 2011 (UTC)

This is a paragraph under history. We know nothing that would cast doubt on the fact that this was indeed among the original design criteria. Whether this was executed successfully (I would say very successfully, compared with other software at the time), or properly maintained over the decades, has zero bearing on that fact. So I'm removing the dubious annotation now. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2002:5489:7A1:0:8CFA:79E6:67C0:3320 (talk) 14:41, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

screen is known to have longstanding defects in its VT100 emulation. Here are a few links discussing them:

(a defect lasting more than twenty years - still not addressed)

(mentions workarounds needed for this)

(resulting discussion)

(perhaps 15 years - not likely to be fixed)

Because the term is promotional (and implies more than the manpage), and there is no source, I trimmed it. TEDickey (talk) 00:56, 19 December 2014 (UTC)