Below is what happens when trying to use gnu screen. Essentially, it all works fine until I su as another user. then I get a Cannot open your terminal '/dev/pts/7' - please check. error

l413:~$ ssh sbird@example.com
sbird@example.com password: 
sbird@example:~$ screen
[screen is terminating]
sbird@example:~$ su - gradplan
gradplan@example:~$ screen 
Cannot open your terminal '/dev/pts/7' - please check.

How can I login as sbird, su to gradplan, and still use screen?

migrated from stackoverflow.com Oct 3 '11 at 11:51

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To directly answer your question:

ssh sbird@example.com su grandplan -c “script /dev/null -qc \"screen\""

Don't change the permissions on your /dev/pts/X - it just introduces an unnecessary security hole.


Type script /dev/null before starting screen.

$ su - gradplan
$ screen
Cannot open your terminal '/dev/pts/15' - please check.
$ script /dev/null
Script started, file is /dev/null
$ screen
# do whatever inside the screen

ref: ServerFault: Why does redirecting 'script' to /dev/null/ allow 'screen' to work while su'ed as another user?

  • For future readers, I have found su'ing inside screen to actually be better practice, but since this answers what I actually asked better, I accepted this as the right answer. – Alexander Bird Jul 6 '11 at 10:50

If you:

ls -l /dev/pts/7

You will see it is owned by sbird, when you switch to gradplan, he doesn't have perms to touch that device.

You can try doing

chmod a+rw /dev/pts/X

(X being which pts # you are currently connected to, because it will change) before you screen.

Or you can screen as sbird, then in each screen window su there.

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