As someone who has been using Linux for a while, I’ve come to rely on the “screen” utility for various tasks. It’s a powerful tool that allows you to create virtual terminal sessions and run multiple terminal applications in the same session.

This can be particularly useful when working remotely, as it allows you to keep multiple programs running even if your connection is disrupted.

In this article, I’ll walk you through how to use a Linux screen, including creating and attaching to screen sessions, navigating between screens, and customizing your screen environment.

What is Linux Screen?

The Linux screen is a terminal multiplexer, allowing you to run multiple sessions within a single terminal window. It’s a helpful tool for anyone who needs to work with multiple terminal applications simultaneously, as it allows you to switch between them easily without having to open multiple terminal windows.

How to Install Linux Screen?

Before you can start using Linux screen, you’ll need to install it on your system. Fortunately, screen is included in the default repositories of most Linux distributions, so it’s usually just a matter of running a simple package manager command to install it.

On Debian/Ubuntu:

To install screen on a Debian-based system, such as Ubuntu, you can use the following command:

sudo apt-get install screen

On CentOS/Fedora:

On a CentOS or Fedora system, you can use the following command to install screen:

sudo yum install screen

On Arch Linux:

On Arch Linux, you can use the following command to install screen:

sudo pacman -S screen

On Other Distributions:

If you’re using a different Linux distribution, you may need to use a different package manager to install screen. Check your distribution’s documentation for more information on how to install software.

How to Create a New Screen Session?

Once you’ve installed screen, you’re ready to start using it. To create a new screen session, run the “screen” command followed by any options you want to use.

To create a new screen session with the name “mysession,” you can use the following command:

screen -S mysession

This will create a new screen session and attach you to it. You’ll see a new terminal window open, and you can start running commands as you normally would.

How to Detach from a Screen Session?

One of the nice things about screen is that it allows you to “detach” from a session and return to it later. To do this, press “Ctrl+a” followed by “d“. This will detach you from the current screen session and return you to your regular terminal prompt.

How to Attach to a Screen Session?

To attach to an existing screen session, use the “screen -r” command followed by the name of the session you want to attach to.

To attach to the “mysession” screen session that we created earlier, you can use the following command:

screen -r mysession

This will attach you to the “mysession” screen session, allowing you to pick up where you left off.

How to List Available Screen Sessions?

If you have multiple screen sessions running, you may want to list them to see what’s available. To do this, use the “screen -ls” command.

This will list all of the available screen sessions, along with their names and process IDs. If you see a session with a status of “Detached,” it’s not currently being used. You can attach to a detached session using the “screen -r” command described above.

How to Switch Between Screen Windows?

Once you’ve created a screen session, you can create multiple “windows” within that session to run different terminal applications. To switch between windows, press “Ctrl+a” followed by the window number you want to switch to. To switch to the second window in a screen session, you can press “Ctrl+a” followed by “2“.

You can also use the “Ctrl+a” followed by “n” to switch to the next window or “Ctrl+a” followed by “p” to switch to the previous window.

How to Split the Screen?

In addition to switching between windows, you can split the screen into multiple panes to view multiple terminal applications simultaneously. To do this, press “Ctrl+a” followed by “S“. This will split the screen horizontally, creating a new pane below the current one.

You can also use “Ctrl+a” followed by “|” to split the screen vertically, creating a new pane to the right of the current one. To switch between panes, use “Ctrl+a” followed by “Tab“.

How to Customize Your Screen Environment?

There are many ways to customize your screen environment to suit your needs. Some of the options you might want to consider include the following:

  • Setting a screen title: To set a title for a screen window, use the “Ctrl+a” followed by “A” command and the title you want to set. This will display the title at the top of the screen window.
  • Setting scrollback buffer size: By default, screen only keeps a certain number of lines of output in its scrollback buffer. You can increase this value by using the “-h” option when creating a screen session, followed by the number of lines you want to keep. For example, to keep 10000 lines in the scrollback buffer, use the following command:
screen -h 10000
  • Changing the screen color scheme: The screen uses the default terminal color scheme. You can change this by using the “-c” option when creating a screen session, followed by the path to a color scheme file. Many pre-defined color scheme files are available online, or you can create your own using the screen color configuration syntax.
  • Setting screen options: You can set many other options when creating a screen session. Some of the most useful ones include:
    -d” – Detach the screen session after it’s created
    -D” – Detach the screen session if it’s not currently being used
    -L” – Enable screen logging

To see a complete list of options, you can use the “screen –help” command.


Linux screen is a powerful tool that can significantly enhance productivity when working with terminal applications. Whether you’re working remotely or need to juggle multiple terminal sessions, screen can make your life a lot easier.

I hope this article has helped you start using screen – happy terminal-ing!

Tim Miller

Tim has always been obsessed with computers his whole life. After working for 25 years in the computer and electronics field, he now enjoys writing about computers to help others. Most of his time is spent in front of his computer or other technology to continue to learn more. He likes to try new things and keep up with the latest industry trends so he can share them with others.

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