In my bindings, prefix + CTRL-Z triggers the "suspend-client" command in tmux. I've triggered this many times by mistake and I'm left with a "zombie terminal" without prompt and I can't figure out how to "wake" it.

According to the tmux man page:

suspend-client [-t target-client]
 (alias: suspendc)
 Suspend a client by sending SIGTSTP (tty stop).

Is there a "way back" or I just have to kill the terminal?

What is it used for?

  • 1
    After suspend-client you're left without prompt; I'm left in a shell and I can fg. This is because I prefer to keep a shell as a parent process for any tmux client. My .bashrc checks if it's not inside tmux, then runs tmux a || tmux. – Kamil Maciorowski Oct 15 '19 at 11:28

Lookup the tmux client pid with ps and use kill -CONT <pid>.

And yes, resume-client should be implemented for use with tmux -C.


SIGTSTP is canonically the signal for suspending a foreground process, and (almost) the same as ctrl+z. The obvious benefit is that this halts its use of resources and any other impact it may have; it freezes the state of the process and yields control to the parent process. The less obvious benefit is the TTY component: you immediately regain control over stdin/out/err, and when you resume the task, you either retain control of execution and I/O with bg, as if you were running it like prog &, or release it with fg (prog.) I know that SIGCONT will resume the process, but I don't know if or how it decides between FG/BG.

Now, the difference between SIGTSTP and SIGSTOP is that SIGSTOP is non-negotiable, whereas SIGTSTP can be "trapped" (handled/caught/etc.) Here is a simple example and here are a few caveats. Try man 7 signal - you may find another collision, if not a way to use them to your benefit.

There are some 'exterior' commands that perform the same role - you may be able to accomplish this with stty ixon/ixoff, but I'm not an expert and I haven't done much of anything with signals. Maybe keep a cheat sheet for when you start testing, because it seems like it would be very easy to lock up your environment.

Edit - it wasn't fully clear from your post - would disabling the default Tmux binding solve your issue?

  • In my case the parent is not a shell, as I have zsh+tmux as my default shell. So, when I suspend tmux with prefix+CTRL-Z it doesn't have a shell to turn back to. Yes, I could remove the binding but I was curious of what was it's purpose. Thanks. – Alechan Dec 19 '17 at 22:56
  • You could insert a screen layer. I'm not positive what the relationship is between Tmux and Screen, but Screen accomplishes the same attach/detach behavior as Tmux, while the layer of indirection would give your signals a proper target. With that said, as far as I know, the parent to your Tmux/Zsh would have to handle signals one way or another, so that's another place you could look. For what it's worth, I leave bash as my user shell and tie Tmux to my emulators so I can experiment without jeopardizing my current or next session. – John P Dec 24 '17 at 21:22
  • Oh, and if you've noticed, the command you've found is suspend-client - the server could/should still be intact. You should be able to wake the client by PID (I don't see resume-client or anything similar in Tmux, or I would recommend doing it natively instead.) – John P Dec 24 '17 at 21:24

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