Muli Ben-Yehuda's journal

August 12, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — Muli Ben-Yehuda @ 1:45 PM

Date: Thu, 12 Aug 2004 13:39:41 +0300 From: Muli Ben-Yehuda User-Agent: Mutt/1.5.6+20040803i To: Marc’s List Subject: tip: changing the default screen(1) command character

Or “how to make screen not use C-a by default”.

It’s pretty simple really, once you grovel through the documentation enough to find the relevant bit. Set it with either -e command line switch or the ‘defescape’ or ‘escape’ commands.

Explanation: screen(1) is a very useful utility for everyone who works a lot on remote computers. It allows you to attach and detach from remote sessions (detach like nohup(1), but you can also attach back to it) so that they continue running while you’re disconnected from that machine. screen by default ‘steals’ the C-a (Control a) key stroke to itself, which is incredibly annoying if you’re used to the default readline key strokes in bash, emacs, BitchC, etc, where you type it to go to the beginning of the line. Ergo, the tip above to change it to something saner.

Cheers, Muli

Muli Ben-Yehuda |


  1. Heh. When I lived in screens, I rapidly finger-macroed to double-ctrl-A. I had to readjust when my command lines were my own once more 😉

    Comment by reddragdiva — August 12, 2004 @ 4:38 AM | Reply

    • I still live in screen and double-ctrl-A is just second nature. I had it changed for awhile to ` (backtick) which was convenient on one host, but not when I was using dozens of hosts (servers) all with screen and forgetting to change the default away from control-A.
      Kinda like dvorak.

      Comment by brad — August 12, 2004 @ 9:49 AM | Reply

  2. bash, emacs, …eh?
    Is “BitchC” a nickname for something? Google has you as the single source for that (and it’s not fun googling this word, I assure you).

    Comment by themoniker — August 31, 2004 @ 7:21 AM | Reply

    • Re: bash, emacs, …eh?
      ROTFL. BitchX, as in the BitchX IRC client.

      Comment by mulix — August 31, 2004 @ 8:39 AM | Reply

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