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I need to list out all the commands executed in a "ssh session". I use multiple ssh session to login to remote servers. So, when I logout from one session, I need to get the commands executed in that session.

Is there any option for that?

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No straight-forward, ready out-of-box solutions afaik because sshd is designed to hide communication between client and server. Similar question have been asked on this site previously. The shell does have a history though. –  Ярослав Рахматуллин Jul 31 '13 at 8:50
I have seen such questions, but I haven't found a proper solution for this. That is the reason why I have posted this question. I think, a bash script will do.. –  peepeep Jul 31 '13 at 9:24
Maybe you're not asking the right question. What are you trying to accomplish, that you need this record for? –  Kenster Jul 31 '13 at 13:46
A bash script to read the shell history? really? At least you should mention the shell you use. In bash you have history -r and history -a, zsh does this more "on the fly" if I'm not mistaking. Also, "any option for that" will depend on your client. Be more specific in the future (it won't hurt to add details to this question either). –  Ярослав Рахматуллин Jul 31 '13 at 15:08

3 Answers 3

If you're running bash on the remote servers, it keeps history for you, and you can retrieve that history with the history command.

If you edit ~/.bash_profile to include the following line:

export HISTTIMEFORMAT="%h/%d -- %H:%M:%S "

your history will also have timestamps (to make it easier to figure what you ran in the current session, and what's ancient history).

As bash is shutting down, it will run your ~/.bash_logut script. If you make the last line of this script:


the last thing you'll have blurted at you as you're closing the connection will be your history - not just from the current session, unfortunately, but the timestamps should help you figure out which commands were from the current session and which were old.

If you don't mind losing history on the remote machines between sessions, you could add


to your login scripts. When HISTFILE isn't set, bash won't save the history to a file. This will mean that the history that runs on logout can only show you the current session.

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Thanks for the update. Till the .bash_logout is working fine for me. But, I didn't get the final part you have told, ie, not setting the history. I tried to add it in the .bashrc of my account, but didn't clear of any of the previous histories. So, its listing the old commands that I have executed few days back. Could you please explain how it is done?? –  peepeep Jul 31 '13 at 14:36
Right, unsetting HISTFILE won't clear out the old entries - the old entries are stored in a file, but since HISTFILE isn't set, bash doesn't know what that file is, so it can't clear it out. By default, that file is ~/.bash_history - you can rm that file yourself, or open it in a text editor and selectively trim it if you prefer. –  James Polley Jul 31 '13 at 22:16

Using PuTTY (or other ssh clients), you can configure it to "save" all the session information.


Session --> Login --> Session Login --> All session output

Another option could be to execute the command

# history >> history.log

Before leaving the ssh session and downloading the history.log file

That would list the last executed commands.

You can even let history know how many commands to remember

# vi ~/.bash_profile

Hope that helps

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Im using gnome-terminal and konsole. So the putty option is not what I want. I use the same terminal for logging into multiple ssh session one after the other. So, whenever I logout from one session, I need to get the printed list of the commands executed in that session. –  peepeep Jul 31 '13 at 6:36

Gonzalo Murillo's 2nd suggestion to use the history command to capture only what you typed (not the command output) will work.

If you want to build a list of commands before connecting to any of the servers, you could script this easily using python to automate the whole thing if you don't need any interaction.

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