Putty, Screen, Finch

June 13th, 2008

I’ve recently been introduced to the program “screen”. It allows you to open mulitple terminal sessions once you are logged into a machine. It’s similar to the idea of having multiple tabs in a Firefox browser. You only need to open one xterm/putty/ssh session, run screen, and you have multiple (excuse the direct reference) screens through a single login.

Why would I want to do this? Convenience and also safeguarding.

Convenience: While working from my Windows machine I used to open multiple putty windows for multi-tasking on my server, but this now allows me to open as many command line session as I need without cluttering up Winows’s task bar. It’s also incredibly quick to have a fresh screen without even touching the mouse.

Safeguarding: Residential high-speed internet is great, but far from 100% reliable. If you loose your internet connection while working on a file or running a compile, it is a huge pain to get your sessions back up and running. If you were running your commands from within screen, all you have to do is log back in and re-connect to your screen session. All of your work is sitting there as if you never left. This also is fantastic if you have a session started from one machine and have to move to a different one and pickup where you left off. Brilliant!

I ran into a small hiccup using Finch from within a screen session. This may only apply to users running Finch within a screen session while logged into a server with PuTTy. 

Symptoms: Finch runs great before you invoke screen. The textual graphics/borders render properly. Once you run screen and launch Finch within, the graphics/borders become a bunch of annoying characters instead.

Solution: This one is done completely from PuTTy. In your running session click the upper leftPuTTy icon and select “Change settings…”. Navigate to Window -> translation and select UTF-8 from the drop down. Click Apply. Then from your screen window force a refresh/redraw by hitting Ctrl-A and the L. You should now see a properly rendered Finch.

Entry Filed under: General,London Bound 2008,Tech

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Justin  |  January 13th, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    I had the same problem and I fixed it by changing the translation to UTF-8. Thanks for the tip!!

  • 2. Dracie  |  March 27th, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    The locale your using in your ssh session needs to be the same as the locale your client is using. I am using en_US.ISO-8859-15 as my locale on my shell account, and since the defaults for many clients are this It doesn’t show up as Å borders around finche’s windows.

    I had this problem on my itouch, quite a few macs, and some window machines.

    cheers <3

  • 3. David R  |  November 5th, 2009 at 7:38 am

    I tried with ISO8859-15 it didn’t work but worked perfectly with UTF-8!
    Thank you very much!

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