Switching from tmux to GNU Screen

Josh Sherman
1 min read
Command-line Interface

I’m was a bit late to the terminal multiplexer game.

I had used GNU Screen on servers here and there to be able to keep tabs on long running processes but it wasn’t until this past year that I decided to start using tmux full-time locally.

Why tmux if I was already familiar with screen?

Partly because I wasn’t really familiar with screen. Sure I used it out on servers but my knowledge was limited to starting and reconnecting to sessions.

That part’s on me.

The other reason was that tmux was being touted as a modern / better alternative to screen. All the cool kids seemed to be using it and it didn’t hurt that I knew folks using it.

It was recommended that I use tmuxinator as well to help manage my sessions even further.

For the last year it was a great setup. It did everything I needed it to do and like vim, I have over configured the hell out of it.

As part of my “back to basics” initiative the last month or so, it seemed fitting to drop tmux for a bit and give GNU Screen an honest try.

It’s been a few weeks since switching and I couldn’t be happier!

I have been able to do everything I was able to do with tmux and there are some things that just feel easier or more intuitive to me. Specifically, the way screen handles “moving” windows just seemed way more natural.

Since I am attempting to embrace the ubiquity of using my tools as God intended and without a bunch of Josh-isms configured, I am using screen with as little configuration as possible.

In fact, it’s just two lines:

startup_message off
defscrollback 10000

Far cry from my 100+ line tmux.conf!

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Husband. Father. Pug dad. Musician. Founder of Holiday API, Head of Engineering and Emoji Specialist at Mailshake, and author of the best damn Lorem Ipsum Library for PHP.

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