I like to pop up a screen session with pre-opened SSH connections to the primary servers that I administrate at the office. I give these windows each a very brief name, typically 2-4 characters, so they appear in my screen status bar with those names. So I'll have a screen entry that looks like

0$ jen1 ...

Now, when I need to switch to that server and do anything even as simple as fetch a directory listing, that name suddenly expands and becomes

0$ ghellings@devjenkins01

The same happens for each and every window as I access it, making my status bar quickly overflow the horizontal width of my screen. I would like to lock the name in place at window creation time and prevent client applications from changing it. I don't want any applications to be able to change the screen window title (quite the opposite of what lots of people seem to be asking). This becomes especially cumbersome once I change to that screen and open a directory somewhere. Then the screen title becomes

 (0*$ ghellings@devjenkins01:/opt/somepackage/software/subdirectory)

I want it to only change the active status so it will always read either

`0$ jen1` or `(0*$ jen1)`

Is there a way for me to lock the window name in and prevent changing it?

3 Answers 3


I found this early on in RHEL 7 testing and it would drive me nuts. What I discovered is that there was a change to /etc/bashrc in RHEL 7 that causes the naming of windows in screen and tmux to change whenever a command like cd or ls is run. In section screen*)

if [ -e /etc/sysconfig/bash-prompt-screen ]; then
## RHEL 7
    PROMPT_COMMAND='printf "\033k%s@%s:%s\033\\" "${USER}" "${HOSTNAME%%.*}" "${PWD/#$HOME/~}"'

## RHEL 6
    PROMPT_COMMAND='printf "\033]0;%s@%s:%s\033\\" "${USER}" "${HOSTNAME%%.*}" "${PWD/#$HOME/~}"'

So in RHEL 7 the change was from ]0; to k in the PROMPT_COMMAND section.

I had considered opening a bug, but just never got around to it. I usually just change it manually on a fresh install.

  • Changes made to update formatting

Most probably, you have the PROMPT_COMMAND variable set to something like

printf "\033k%s@%s:%s\033\\" "${USER}" "${HOSTNAME%%.*}" "${PWD/#$HOME/~}"

I have exactly this on a CentOS 7 system. This sets the xterm window title after each command, which screen uses as window title.

Just unset PROMPT_COMMAND in your .bashrc or edit /etc/bashrc to not set it.

  • See below to make this more permanent.
    – math
    Commented Nov 16, 2018 at 18:53

If you check .bashrc or /etc/bashrc, you may see if or case which is related to screen.

In my case, it was something like:

if [ -e /etc/sysconfig/bash-prompt-screen ]; then
    PROMPT_COMMAND='printf "\033k%s@%s:%s\033\\" "${USER}" "${HOSTNAME%%.*}" "${PWD/#$HOME/~}"'

under case $TERM in in /etc/bashrc file.

The problem was that I did not have the file /etc/sysconfig/bash-prompt-screen so PROMPT_COMMAND under else is used.

I just made an empty /etc/sysconfig/bash-prompt-screen file then titles of screen windows are not dynamically changed anymore!

  • Have to make the empty file executable or you'll get a warning every time bash is launched (eg at login for everyone).
    – math
    Commented Nov 16, 2018 at 18:54

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