I am looking for a way to send an executed command to a TTY terminal. For example, let us say that I open the gnome-terminal and on the window I type sudo aptitude update && sudo aptitude upgrade.

How can I send this to a TTY terminal instead of working with it in the TTY7 GUI environment?


I would recommend not doing that directly, but use a terminal multiplexer, such as tmux, as an in-between.

In the terminal that should receive the command start tmux with an identifier:

tmux new-session -s MYSES

Send commands to it with:

tmux send-keys -t MYSES "sudo aptitude update && sudo aptitude upgrade"$'\n'
  • if you use byobu this works as well! And you can drop the -t MYSES if there happens to be running a session already you don't know the name of. Thnx! – ExploWare Mar 13 '16 at 11:52

This is a program that will help:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <fcntl.h>
#include <sys/stat.h>
#include <sys/ioctl.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <unistd.h>

void print_help(char *prog_name) {
        printf("Usage: %s [-n] DEVNAME COMMAND\n", prog_name);
        printf("Usage: '-n' is an optional argument if you want to push a new line at the end of the text\n");
        printf("Usage: Will require 'sudo' to run if the executable is not setuid root\n");

int main (int argc, char *argv[]) {
    char *cmd, *nl = "\n";
    int i, fd;
    int devno, commandno, newline;
    int mem_len;
    devno = 1; commandno = 2; newline = 0;
    if (argc < 3) {
    if (argc > 3 && argv[1][0] == '-' && argv[1][1] == 'n') {
        devno = 2; commandno = 3; newline=1;
    } else if (argc > 3 && argv[1][0] == '-' && argv[1][1] != 'n') {
        printf("Invalid Option\n");
    fd = open(argv[devno],O_RDWR);
    if(fd == -1) {
        perror("open DEVICE");
    mem_len = 0;
    for ( i = commandno; i < argc; i++ ) {
        mem_len += strlen(argv[i]) + 2;
        if ( i > commandno ) {
            cmd = (char *)realloc((void *)cmd, mem_len);
        } else { //i == commandno
            cmd = (char *)malloc(mem_len);

        strcat(cmd, argv[i]);
        strcat(cmd, " ");
  if (newline == 0)
    for (i = 0; cmd[i]; i++)
        ioctl (fd, TIOCSTI, cmd+i);
    if (newline == 1)
        ioctl (fd, TIOCSTI, nl);
    free((void *)cmd);
    exit (0);

Copy the above code to some C file (For eg. ttyecho.c). Run the following command in the directory you have created the C file in to compile the code.

make ttyecho

Copy this file to the bin directory under your Home Directory. Create the directory if it doesn’t exist. Its a good practice to keep all custom binaries/executables in this bin directory.

Start another terminal or switch to any other open terminal that you wish to control and execute the command tty. You can see a sample output below.

@~$ tty


Now to execute a command on /dev/pts/5, run the following command in the controlling/original terminal.

sudo ttyecho -n /dev/pts/5 ls

You will see that the ls command is executed in /dev/pts/5. The -n option makes ttyecho send a newline after the command, so that the command gets executed and not just inserted. This utility can infact be used to send any data to other terminals For eg, you could open vim in /dev/pts/5 and then run the following command in the controlling terminal to cause vim to exit in /dev/pts/5.

sudo ttyecho -n /dev/pts/5 :q

To avoid using sudo all the time, so that the command is easily scriptable, change the owners/permissions of this executable using the following commands.

sudo chown root:root ttyecho
sudo chmod u+s ttyecho

NB:Setting the setuid bit can become a security risk.

Source: http://www.humbug.in/2010/utility-to-send-commands-or-data-to-other-terminals-ttypts/

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.