How to: Snoop / View Other Linux Shell User Typescript of Terminal Session

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Q. How do I make typescript of terminal session for training purpose or just to monitor other user terminal under Linux?

A. Use script command. It makes a typescript of everything printed on your terminal. It is useful for students who need a hardcopy record of an interactive session as proof of an assignment or use this tool to demonstrate some concepts.

Login as student and type the following two commands:
$ mkfifo hardcopy
$ script hardcopy

Login as instructor and type the following command to view typescript of terminal session for student user:
$ cat /home/student/hardcopy

Now anything typed by user student, including all commands and other sessions, will be displayed to the instructor user screen. Use this trick to demonstrate Linux configurations and command usage to student or just to monitor their activity in a classroom.

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

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8 comment

  1. You could also use screen. Start a screen session with a socket name by using “screen -S student” then everyone can attach the screen with “screen -x student” and everyone with it attached can utilize the session. Then “screen -list” with help if you forget which sessions are detached.

  2. No problem. What I like about using screen in this way is that it is interactive. In essence both parties can actively type on the command line. So for example, if student types the command:
    ls -alh \ , I can simply delete the \ before they hit enter and replace it with /, for example.

  3. i have one query that is i am having one text file which include lots of version like

    likeCompress-Raw-Zlib-2.001.tar.gz
    Compress-Zlib-2.001.tar.gz
    ConsoleKit-0.2.3.tar.gz
    Convert-ASN1-0.20.tar.gz
    Crypt-SSLeay-0.51.tar.gz

    my problem is how to extract string one place like
    Compress-Zlib & version in other file 2.001.tar.gz
    please if you have any idea about this please mail me atul_iims@yahoo.com

  4. I wish that all installations of screen were replaced or supplemented with tmux. I’ll bet that if you try tmux and stick with it for as long as you did with screen, you would find it far it to be a superior substitute. The biggest disadvantage of tmux is that it’s not well known and hence likely not to be in a standard *NIX installation.
    If you are a command line purist who likes screen, tmux is a must try.
    Screen good. Tmux better.
    My opinion pnly, of course.

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