I have read that ksh, in contrary to bash, flushes its history after each command. This may be good for many, but for me, it drives me nuts!

I have several windows opened that are opened for their own tasks, and this history being shared messes up with specific session history of commands.

Is there a way I could disable this flushing, so the history could be appended to the command history at the logout time only?

Or, maybe there is a way to request history not to refresh command line history each time?

  • 1
    One solution is to set $HISTFILE to a different file in each window, so each has its own history. You need to set this before starting ksh, I believe.
    – meuh
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 19:23
  • @meuh - I had this idea for a moment but then it will be a mess with leftovers from shells being killed, and so on... Before I embark on this idea I am looking for a simpler one - like an option for history/ksh... At the end, I can give up on ksh and run bash.
    – Grzegorz
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 19:43

1 Answer 1


I used to have multiple shells running in screen. In my .khsrc I would customize several settings, including $PS1 and $HISTFILE (and include the basename of the tty device).

This was relatively easey to reconstruct:

tty=$(basename $(tty))
mkdir -p $histdir
export HISTFILE=$histdir/history.$tty
export PS1=$USER@'$PWD ['$tty'] ${?#0}$ '
exec /usr/bin/ksh

Save this as ~/bin/screenshell, and run chmod +x ~/bin/screenshell. Now you can run screen and have separate history files for each window.

SHELL=~/bin/screenshell screen


Window 3

    vagrant@/home/vagrant [3] 127$ history
    1       history
    2       error
    3       history

Window 4

    vagrant@/home/vagrant [4] $ history
    1       history
    vagrant@/home/vagrant [4] $ echo $HISTFILE
    vagrant@/home/vagrant [4] $ tty

An alternative would be to run exec ksh from .kshrc, but you'll need some kind of test to prevent an exec-loop.

  • Thank you for your code. I suspect it does not share the history between windows after session is closed, right?
    – Grzegorz
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 16:38
  • No, it doesn't. However, the number of history files is limited and it shouldn't be too much work to find and copy commands from other windows. Some answers to similar questions use $$ as selector, resulting in large numbers of files. Commented May 31, 2018 at 16:44

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