How to share your terminal session with another user in real time.

Linux has a script command which is mainly used for ‘typescripting’ all output printed on terminal. Commands typed on a terminal and the resulting output can be written to a file for later retrieval.

One little known use of the script command is for sharing your terminal session with another user, this would particularly be useful for telecooperation say between a user and instructor. The instructor can lead the session by executing commands on the shell while the student would observe. Here is one way of doing this –

1. Instructor creates a named pipe using mkfifo

instructor@linubuvma:/$ mkfifo /tmp/shared-screen

instructor@linubuvma:/$ ls -al /tmp/shared-screen 
prw-rw-r-- 1 instructor instructor 0 Mar 31 00:08 /tmp/shared-screen

instructor@linubuvma:/$ script -f /tmp/shared-screen 

2. Student views the session in real time by reading the shared-screen file –

student@linubuvma:/tmp$ cat shared-screen
Script started on Fri 31 Mar 2017 12:09:42 AM EDT

As soon as the student runs the

cat shared-screen

command, the script command also gets started on the instructor’s session.

Whatever is typed on the instructor’s terminal will show up on the student’s screen and the student’s terminal will be restored as soon as the instructor exits or terminates the script session –

instructor@linubuvma:/$ free -m
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:          3946       3572        374         40        288        996
-/+ buffers/cache:       2288       1658
Swap:         4092        195       3897
instructor@linubuvma:/$ exit

Script done on Fri 31 Mar 2017 12:12:02 AM EDT

Note – the student’s screen will show the user id of the instructor at the bash prompt, as it is a replica of the instructors session. Once the instructor terminates the session, the student will get back to their original bash prompt.


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