Linux: Record a Terminal Session, Logging Shell Output

By Xah Lee. Date:

If you do a lot sys admin work, or you want a record of your shell session, you can log it to a file. There are several ways to do this.

Set Terminal Scrollback to Unlimited, Copy and Save

One way is set your terminal to unlimited scrollback, then, just select all, copy, then paste and save in a editor.

To set unlimited scrollback, in gnome-terminal, it's under menu 〖Edit ▸ Profile Preferences ▸ Scrolling〗 tab. If your terminal doesn't have unlimited/infinite option, just use a big number.

Then, when you need to save session, just pull menu 〖Edit ▸ Select All〗 , then 〖Edit ▸ Copy〗 , then paste it in a editor.

gnome terminal scrollback preference
Gnome Terminal Scrollback Preference

This is a nice solution, but the problem is, in some dumb terminal such as Ctrl+Alt+F1 Virtual Console, there's no menu or copy and paste.

Using “script” Command to Log Session

Start logging like this script ~/session.log.

Stop logging by exit.

Problem with this solution is:

Using Shell inside Emacs

Best is to use shell inside emacs. That way, you don't have to worry whether you forgot to start to log it. Just save it to a file anytime.

Start emacs, then call shell to start shell. To save, call write-file. For a detailed tutorial, see: Emacs Shell Tutorial (Bash, cmd.exe, PowerShell).

Add Timestamp to Your Shell Prompt

When logging, it's good to have timestamp. see: Linux: Bash Prompt, Add Color, DateTime.