ssh'ing to my Ubuntu machine automatically attaches an existing screen session and detaching ends my ssh session

What I want is to be able to ssh to my Ubuntu machine without automatically attaching to the screen session on that machine. Or at least, I should be able to to detach from that screen session w/o ending my ssh session .. right? Doesn't seem to work.

This so that I can attempt to run firefox --display <whichever one is being forwarded to my ssh session>, so that I can debug a website that the remote Ubuntu machine is running (via localhost).

Best case scenario is that I could just remote-desktop to my Ubuntu machine. But it's not set up to allow remote-desktop, and I see no way to set it up remotely via shell/ssh. Also, it sounds like you need a static IP in order to remote desktop to an Ubuntu machine (so I keep reading).

  • What ssh command are you connecting with? A default ssh into a machine shouldn't connect to a running screen session unless you specify it as the command parameter to ssh or have it in the login script...
    – jmetz
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 20:59
  • via a vpn connection:ssh -X <hostname>
    – jsplaine
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 21:39
  • So how do you automatically connect to a running screen session - is there a login script?
    – jmetz
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 21:46
  • I don't see the word "screen" in /etc/login.defs anywhere and I should mention that byobu (a nice screen wrapper utility) is running on the remote machine. It must be doing something... Also note that it's a fairly recent install of Ubuntu.
    – jsplaine
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 21:46

1 Answer 1


Original Answer

It seems that your byobu installation has probably edited one of your login script files. You should search these, namely

  • ~/.bashrc
  • ~/.profile
  • Possibly the system-wide files too

for byobu or screen - you can use grep or just open up the file.

E.g. Open ~/.bashrc and search for byobu, namely something like

if [ $SSH_TTY ] && [ ! $WINDOW ]; then
    SCREENLIST=`screen -ls | grep 'Attached'`
    if [ $? -eq "0" ]; then
        echo -e "Screen is already running and attached:\n ${SCREENLIST}"
        type -P byobu &>/dev/null && byobu -U -R || screen -U -R

Comment out this section to restore normal ssh behaviour.

See here for more information about this automatic reattaching behaviour.

This Is What Worked (see comments below)

In ~/.profile, comment out _byobu_sourced=1 . /usr/bin/byobu-launch

And if you're trying to launch an X11 Firefox session, just ssh -X <hostname> firefox (you may need to add the -no-remote flag).

  • Hm .. not only is nothing like that in my .bashrc but the word screen appears nowhere on any file in my home directory. jsplaine@xxx:~$ grep -i screen ~/* jsplaine@xxx:~$
    – jsplaine
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 22:09
  • re-ran a search with find . -maxdepth 1 -type f|xargs grep -i screen -- found stuff in bash_history, ./.viminfo, and ./.xsession-errors.old only
    – jsplaine
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 22:16
  • checked /usr/share/base-files/dot.bashrc, /etc/bash.bashrc, /home/jsplaine/.bashrc, and /usr/share/base-files/dot.bashrc. No mention of screen or byobu.. : /
    – jsplaine
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 22:22
  • Even killing the screen session kicks me out of ssh, and ssh again begins a new screen session it seems. Meh whatever -- all I need to do is run an X11 browser OR remote-desktop.
    – jsplaine
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 22:23
  • 1
    done -- I'd vote up if I had the rep. Thank you very much. And if you're super bored, there's always this Setting up remote desktop via ssh? :D
    – jsplaine
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 23:43

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