Terminal multiplexer

A terminal multiplexer is a software application that can be used to multiplex several virtual consoles, allowing a user to access multiple separate login sessions inside a single terminal window, or detach and reattach sessions from a terminal. It is useful for dealing with multiple programs from a command line interface, and for separating programs from the session of the Unix shell that started the program, particularly so a remote process continues running even when the user is disconnected.


A terminal multiplexer can be thought of as a text version of graphical window managers, or as a way of putting attach virtual terminals to any login session. It is a wrapper that allows multiple text programs to run at the same time, and provides features that allow the user to use the programs within a single interface productively.

Similar to VNC, a terminal multiplexer allows the user to start applications from one computer, and then reconnect from a different computer and continue using the same application without having to restart it. This makes accessing the same session between different locations like work and home simple. Terminal multiplexers provide terminal-agnostic functionality so that users can disconnect and reconnect using different terminal types, allowing applications to continue running without being aware of the change in terminals.
Concretely, the multiplexer starts a session (with associated processes), and then either does not attach a terminal to it, or attaches a terminal but can subsequently detach it (for example if the network connection is dropped). Since the session does not end, the processes are not sent a "hangup" signal (SIGHUP) and are not terminated, so they continue running, and one can subsequently (re)attach a terminal to the session and continue interacting, or simply leave the session unattached.
Multiple windows
Multiple terminal sessions can be created, each of which usually runs a single application. The windows are numbered, and the user can use the keyboard to switch between them. Some GUI terminal emulators provide tabs or otherwise similar functionality to this. Each window has its own scroll-back buffer, so that output is captured even when the window isn't actively displayed, and that history can be saved even when migrating to another computer. Windows can be split-screened. While some text applications have this functionality built in, a terminal multiplexer allows any application to be split-screened alongside any number of other applications.
Session Sharing
Terminal multiplexers allow multiple computers to connect to the same session at once, enabling collaboration between multiple users. The same computer can also be used to make multiple simultaneous connections, providing alternative functionality to screen-splitting, particularly for computers with multiple monitors.



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