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I have left a script running on a remote machine from when I was locally working at it. I can connect over SSH to the machine as the same user and see the script running in ps.

$ ps aux | grep ipcheck
myuser  18386  0.0  0.0  18460  3476 pts/0    S+   Dec14   1:11 /bin/bash ./ipchecker.sh

It is simply outputting to stdout on a local session (I ran ./ipchecker.sh form a local terminal window, no redirection, no use of screen etc).

Is there anyway from an SSH session I can view the output of this running command (without stopping it)?

So far the best I have found is to use strace -p 18386 but I get hordes of text flying up the screen, its far too detailed. I can stop strace and then sift through the output and find the text bring printed to stdout but its very long and confusing, and obviously whilst it's stopped I might miss something. I would like to find a way to see the script output live as if I was working locally.

Can anyone improve on this? The obvious answer is to restart the script with redirection or in a screen session etc, this isn't a mission critical script so I could do that. Rather though, I see this as a fun learning exercise.

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Is your process running in a virtual console or in a GUI/xterm like environment? –  jippie Dec 15 '12 at 15:20
You can limit output of strace to one syscall: strace -p 4232 -e write –  otokan Dec 15 '12 at 15:59
@jippie The machine is running a full GUI (Linux Mynt 13, XFCE desktop), I fired up a gnome-terminal. –  jwbensley Dec 15 '12 at 16:14
There's at least a dozen of similar questions on this site. Look for reptyr here to find a few of them (and an answer). –  Stéphane Chazelas Dec 15 '12 at 22:46

4 Answers 4

can't you get the process ID and communicate with it with USR1,

$pgrep -l '^ipchecker.sh$'

which prints your script's PID, then use it to

$ kill -USR1 PID

I understand that USR1 is a "user defined" signal, meaning that whoever created the program can use it to mean "shut down" or "dump your logs" or "print foo a thousand times" or whatever.

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If all you want to do is spy on the existing process, you can use strace -p1234 -s9999 -e write where 1234 is the process ID. That won't give you output that's already been produced.

With many programs, you can divert subsequent output with a ptrace hack, either to your current terminal or to a new screen session. See How can I disown a running process and associate it to a new screen shell? and other linked threads.

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I don't suppose there's a way to narrow down the output to just the standard output? –  Jonah Mar 28 '13 at 0:33
Can you explain all the arguments? –  User Mar 16 at 22:15
  1. You might be able to peek at the remote screen using ssh localhost 'DISPLAY=:0.0 xwd -root' | xwud -scale where localhost is to be replaced by your remote server login credentials and :0.0 with the display number of your GUI.

  2. Use x11vnc, which is a VNC server for your on screen X-session.

  3. When running on one of the 6 virtual consoles try sudo setterm -dump 2 -file /dev/stdout, where you replace 2 with the appropriate vc.

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I'd advice to make a named pipe (mkfifo) and then write to that file. Then, read from it. You can always do that with things like tail, to minimize output, etc. Whenever you clear the pipe (read from it), it gets cleared, so the output is not preserved.

The other option would be to write everything to a file (much like a logfile) and then analyze it an any time. This would be the preferred action, if you want to preserve all output.

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