Search this site





Find that lost screen session

Scenario: I run lots of xterms. Each xterm runs a single screen session(*). At any given time, I can only see some of the xterm windows (the others are hidden).

(*) All my xterms run with: 'xterm -e screen -RR'. This causes them to attach to the first-found detached screen, and if none exist creates a new screen session. See for my pleasant, random-colored xterm script.

Problem: I forget where I put things. I can't find that terminal where I'm editing foo.c!

Possible Solutions:

  1. Bad: Kill the vim session that's editing the file, and rerun vim somewhere else.
  2. Good: Use xdotool to search window titles for 'foo.c'
  3. Great: Find the screen STY variable for the process 'vim foo.c'
  4. Great: Ask each open screen session about what it is on screen
Today, we'll cover the two 'great' solutions. I wrote both of these a while ago, but I totally forgot to post about them. Here you go :)

Find a screen by it's child processes

This tool takes a regexp pattern as the only argument and will output a list of screen sessions having child process commands that match that pattern. This is useful for finding what screen is running 'vim foo.c'

% ./ 'vim foo.c'
Find a screen by what is being displayed

This tool takes a regexp pattern as the only argument. It uses screen's hardcopy command to save the on-screen buffer and then applies the regexp given to the buffer. If it matches, the screen session is output. There is special behavior if only one screen session is found: If the screen session is currently attached, it will flash that screen session giving you a visual clue about where it is; if it is not attached, it will attach to it.

% ./ "keynav"
In case you still aren't clear, the two tools help you find your lost screen sessions. Maybe they aren't lost, but certainly it's easier to search for them by text than by eyeballs if you know what's in them.

A short summary: will search for commands running in a screen session and will search for literal text displayed in a screen session. Both are super useful.

Note: Currently, can only capture the contents of the 0th screen window (screen sessions can have multiple windows). I worked for a while on solving this, but for whatever reason I couldn't get it working properly.