How to run nested tmux session

Marcin Wosinek's photo
Marcin Wosinek
·Jul 11, 2021·

2 min read

tmux is a program that provides a convenient way for getting multiple terminal sessions into one window. If you are using it a lot, quickly you can find yourself asking for more - multilevel tmux. Example of nested tmux session:

asciicast

There are 2 settings necessary for this setup to work as expected. Inside ~/.tmux.conf you need:

bind-key -n c-g send-prefix
bind-key -n c-t send-keys c-g

for prefix key access to nested windows. The default prefix is ctrl+b, so here I'm setting ctrl+g to work as prefix on the second level of tmux, and ctrl+t to work on the third level.

Thanks to configuration like this, if you use ctrl+b & c to create a new window on the first level of tmux, you will use:

  • ctrl+g & c - to create window on the second level
  • ctrl+g & c - to create window on the first

The other setting is inside your .zshrc or .profile:

unset TMUX

If we skip this, we will end up seeing:

$ tmux new -s test
sessions should be nested with care, unset $TMUX to force

Summary

In this short guide, we have seen how to set up our tmux to support nesting with minimal configuration & nice mapping for prefix key. Let me know in the comments if you are interested.

 
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