Install and setup screen on Ubuntu 14.04

screen is a great tool for the terminal, allowing me to have many windows (sessions) open at the same time– say vim in one, an ssh session in another, etc. This post documents my basic setup – if you have cool/different ideas about how to do this type of thing let me know.

First we use apt-get to install Screen from the Ubuntu repository:

$ sudo apt-get install screen

That’s all you need to get started. There are many getting started tutorials out there– here’s one to start.

I like to customize my use of screen, so I setup a .screenrc file in my home directory; that is ~/.screenrc. The contents can be something like this (I snagged this example online long ago– if you have a link/reference I’d be happy to give credit in the post):

# .screenrc

# GNU Screen - main configuration file
# All other .screenrc files will source this file to inherit settings.

# Allow bold colors - necessary for some reason
attrcolor b ".I"

# Tell screen how to set colors. AB = background, AF=foreground
termcapinfo xterm 'Co#256:AB=\E[48;5;%dm:AF=\E[38;5;%dm'

# Enables use of shift-PgUp and shift-PgDn
termcapinfo xterm|xterms|xs|rxvt ti@:te@

# Erase background with current bg color
defbce "on"

# Enable 256 color term
term xterm-256color

# Cache 30000 lines for scroll back
defscrollback 30000

hardstatus alwayslastline
# Very nice tabbed colored hardstatus line
hardstatus string '%{= Kd} %{= Kd}%-w%{= Kr}[%{= KW}%n %t%{= Kr}]%{= Kd}%+w %-= %{KG} %H%{KW}|%{KY}%101`%{KW}|%D %M %d %Y%{= Kc} %C%A%{-}'

This .screenrc file provides a nice status line to keep track of all the open screens. In addition to this file, I also have a collection of other files that I use for specific projects. For example, for working on this blog I might have the file .screenrc_blog with the contents:

# .screenrc_blog

# main screen setup
source /home/cstrelioff/.screenrc

chdir /home/cstrelioff
screen
title "home"

chdir /home/cstrelioff/MyBlog
screen
title "blog"

Using the above file I start screen, creating home and blog windows at startup, using the command:

$ screen -c .screenrc_blog

As always, if you have questions or comments please let me know.

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