Both @Thomas Dickey and @Celada have good suggestions, and after messing around with this for a few days I have an ok solution that may be of interest.
First: Certainly you should use Mosh if that is available server-side. It will allow you to work with a faulty / slow connection.
Second, use an editor that will save your work to a desktop - emacs has this, for example. According to the documentation and the variable
desktop-auto-save-timeout, it will autosave every 30 seconds by default in Emacs 24.4 when using
(desktop-save-mode 1) in your init file. Note that emacs may lock a desktop file so emacs restarted after crash will not successfully do
(desktop-read). Some code from here helped me out (but I don't know how it works). Add it to your init file:
;;; desktop-override-stale-locks.el begins here
(defun emacs-process-p (pid)
"If pid is the process ID of an emacs process, return t, else nil.
Also returns nil if pid is nil."
(let ((attributes (process-attributes pid)) (cmd))
(dolist (attr attributes)
(if (string= "comm" (car attr))
(setq cmd (cdr attr))))
(if (and cmd (or (string= "emacs" cmd) (string= "emacs.exe" cmd))) t))))
(defadvice desktop-owner (after pry-from-cold-dead-hands activate)
"Don't allow dead emacsen to own the desktop file."
(when (not (emacs-process-p ad-return-value))
(setq ad-return-value nil)))
;;; desktop-override-stale-locks.el ends here
I use tmux with tmuxinator client-side which opens a few windows/panes that ssh to my working directory server-side. It's not perfect, but it's still fairly efficient to setup the work environment with instances of
htop, and various open directories using my faviourite shell. A few useful things in my tmux config file:
# make sure your terminal emulator and tmux are on the same colour scheme, or your nice themes will get screwed up.
set -g default-terminal "xterm-256color"
#if you use vim in tmux you need this for quick ESC key sequences, else it gobbles up ESC key presses.
set -s escape-time 0
# Enable mouse mode (tmux 2.1 and above)
set -g mouse on
# don't rename windows automatically. useful for window "categories"
set-option -g allow-rename off
# switch panes using Alt-arrow without prefix
bind -n M-Left select-pane -L
bind -n M-Right select-pane -R
bind -n M-Up select-pane -U
bind -n M-Down select-pane -D
And a snippet of my tmuxinator yml config file
- ouput: # this is the name of a window
panes: # these are some panes in said window
- cd /some/directory
- cd /another/directory
- cd ~/
- cd ~/
# cd to working dir and start up a zsh session
- ssh me@host -t 'cd ~/working/dir; zsh -i'
# repeat more panes and windows server-side
Upon disconnect the tmux windows with ssh will exit to a local shell where the previous command was the tmux comment, so at least it's easy to up+RET back to the server. You'll want to avoid "shared incremental history" options in your environment to make sure this works.
Finally, if your system is determined to kill idle sessions, just have your client send an SSH poke every minute or so so they don't realise you are idle. Do this in the .ssh/config with
I deliberately left emacs out of the tmuxinator configuration for two reasons. 1 tmux can be slow with text editors, struggling to refresh so much text and 2 I wanted to run emacs in server-mode and it might already be running when I start up in tmux. I would generally run separate windows, client and server-side, dedicated to emacs (with the same configuration, of course) running in server-mode. In addition, I set EDITOR="emacsclient -t", so that quick editing tasks will instantly connect to the emacs server wherever they are called from. All of these tasks, of course, become part of the emacs desktop! (if anyone wants to elaborate on how to do this with the other editor, I'm interested.)