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Screen vs Tmux on Linux: Battle or Friendship?

Screen vs Tmux on Linux: Battle or Friendship?

Screen and Tmux are both terminal multiplexers that allow you to create multiple virtual terminals within a single terminal window. They provide features like session management, detachability, and the ability to run multiple programs simultaneously. In this guide, we will explore the differences between Screen and Tmux, their usage, and some examples of commands and scripts.

1. Introduction to Screen and Tmux

Screen and Tmux are powerful tools that are commonly used by system administrators and developers to manage multiple terminal sessions. They are especially useful when working on remote servers or when you need to keep long-running processes running even after you disconnect from the terminal.

2. Installing Screen and Tmux

Screen and Tmux can be installed on most Linux distributions using the package manager. For example, on Ubuntu, you can install Screen by running the following command:

sudo apt-get install screen

To install Tmux, you can use the following command:

sudo apt-get install tmux

3. Getting Started with Screen

Screen is a terminal multiplexer that allows you to create multiple virtual terminals within a single terminal window. Here are some basic commands to get started with Screen:

3.1 Creating a New Screen Session

To create a new Screen session, simply run the following command:

screen

This will start a new Screen session and display a welcome message. You can now start running commands in this session.

3.2 Detaching and Attaching to a Screen Session

You can detach from a Screen session and leave it running in the background by pressing Ctrl+a d. To reattach to a detached session, use the following command:

screen -r

3.3 Splitting the Screen

You can split the Screen horizontally or vertically to create multiple panes. To split the Screen horizontally, press Ctrl+a S. To split it vertically, press Ctrl+a |. You can navigate between panes using Ctrl+a Tab.

4. Getting Started with Tmux

Tmux is another popular terminal multiplexer that provides similar functionality to Screen. Here are some basic commands to get started with Tmux:

4.1 Creating a New Tmux Session

To create a new Tmux session, simply run the following command:

tmux new-session

This will start a new Tmux session and display a status line at the bottom of the terminal window. You can now start running commands in this session.

4.2 Detaching and Attaching to a Tmux Session

You can detach from a Tmux session and leave it running in the background by pressing Ctrl+b d. To reattach to a detached session, use the following command:

tmux attach-session

4.3 Splitting the Tmux Window

You can split the Tmux window horizontally or vertically to create multiple panes. To split the window horizontally, press Ctrl+b %. To split it vertically, press Ctrl+b ". You can navigate between panes using Ctrl+b Arrow Keys.

5. Screen vs Tmux: Key Differences

While both Screen and Tmux provide similar functionality, there are some key differences between them:

Feature Screen Tmux
Mouse Support No Yes
Vertical Splitting No Yes
Window Renaming Yes No
Session Sharing No Yes

6. Similar Commands and Ideas

Here are some similar commands and ideas that you can use with both Screen and Tmux:

  • Ctrl+a c: Create a new window
  • Ctrl+a n: Switch to the next window
  • Ctrl+a p: Switch to the previous window
  • Ctrl+a [0-9]: Switch to a specific window
  • Ctrl+a :resize-pane: Resize a pane
  • Ctrl+a :setw synchronize-panes: Synchronize input to all panes

7. Useful Scripts

Here are some useful scripts that you can use with Screen or Tmux:

7.1 Script to Create Multiple Panes

#!/bin/bash

# Create a new Screen session
screen -dmS mysession

# Split the Screen horizontally
screen -S mysession -X split

# Split the Screen vertically
screen -S mysession -X split -v

# Select the first pane
screen -S mysession -p 0 -X select

# Run a command in the first pane
screen -S mysession -p 0 -X stuff “echo ‘Hello, World!'”

# Select the second pane
screen -S mysession -p 1 -X select

# Run a command in the second pane
screen -S mysession -p 1 -X stuff “ls”

# Select the third pane
screen -S mysession -p 2 -X select

# Run a command in the third pane
screen -S mysession -p 2 -X stuff “pwd”

7.2 Script to Create Multiple Windows

#!/bin/bash

# Create a new Tmux session
tmux new-session -d -s mysession

# Create a new window
tmux new-window -t mysession:1

# Rename the window
tmux rename-window “Editor”

# Split the window horizontally
tmux split-window -v

# Run a command in the first pane
tmux send-keys -t mysession:1.0 “vi” C-m

# Run a command in the second pane
tmux send-keys -t mysession:1.1 “top” C-m

# Attach to the session
tmux attach-session -t mysession

These scripts demonstrate how to create multiple panes or windows in Screen or Tmux and run commands in each of them. You can customize these scripts according to your requirements.

Now that you have a good understanding of Screen and Tmux, you can choose the one that best suits your needs. Both tools are powerful and versatile, and they will greatly enhance your productivity when working in the terminal.


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