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Say I have only a single console, is it possible to simulate multiple consoles/sessions?

I'm looking for a linux command/method, not ubuntu/debian specific.

#console1
$ ..

#console2
$ console_switch 2
$ ..

#console1 again
$ console_switch 1
$ ..

Anything even like this available, even as a package?

Found package 'screen', but output isn't maintained between switching.

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4 Answers 4

The tmux and screen terminal multiplexers are popular for this. It is possible to see several windows at the same time by splitting vertically/horizontally; for example, Ctrl-B " in tmux. There is even possibility to copy&paste text between windows.

The emacs editor allows running interactive shells in its multiple buffers – again, with multiple buffers on screen, and with copy/paste between them.

A simpler alternative to tmux/screen is dtach, which does not perform full terminal emulation but only allows detaching/reattaching, so the previous output remains. (However, this also means that detaching inside a full-screen program will not work well.)

The Heirloom toolchest appears to provide a version of shl, "shell layers" which were present in Unix SVR3 (and died soon after, but still linger in stty swtch). I can't get the toolchest to build at all, however, and I'm not sure the modern Linux kernels have the necessary support for shl. If it worked, though, it would be almost exactly like in your example.

Finally, you can have multiple shell processes running as jobs:

$ bash
  $ suspend
$ bash
  $ suspend
$ jobs
[1]-  Stopped                 bash
[2]+  Stopped                 bash
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In GNU Screen you can:

  1. split window with Ctrl+A,Shift+S,
  2. switch to the new split with Ctrl+A,Tab,
  3. open new screen with Ctrl+A,C,
  4. repeat.

Additionally to close current split press Ctrl+A,Shift+X.

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GNU Screen, tmux, and probably many many more. The term that you're looking for is terminal multiplexer I think.

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Not sure it's exactly what you're looking for, but screen / byobu seems similar. You don't switch with a command, but with a emacs-style key combo. If your distro has it as a package, I'd suggest byobu.

Edit: Byobu is a usability layer built on top of screen. As far as I know, their's not much that either can do that the other can't, but byobu often makes it much easier.

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