Save your Linux shell commands and their output for later review

8 October 2012 — Leave a comment

Changes to production systems should be tested on a development system and then be deployed using configuration management (such as Puppet), if you ask me. Sometimes I first run commands by hand (on a test system) to find out the right ones, the right order, etc. In those cases I find it useful to automatically document what I type and be able to ‘replay’ it later on.

Why? Because when I write the Puppet configuration needed to deploy the change, I want to be sure all manual commands I ran make it to the Puppet manifest. Being able to replay what I did allows me to do so with ease.

Here’s how to record your key strokes using the ‘script’ Linux utility:

script change1234.script -t 2> change1234.timing

The ‘script’ utility logs all commands you enter to the file ‘change1234.script’. Furthermore it saves the timing data to a file called ‘change1234.timing’. Beware that everything is saved, including errors and typo’s.

The timing data allows to replay the script using the same timing as when the session was recorded. It gives a good representation of what happened. To replay, simply run:

scriptreplay change1234.timing change1234.script

You can replay it as many times as you like.

The .script and .timing files are just plain text files. This means you can ‘grep’ them to quickly find commands. For example, to display the ‘sed’ commands you used:

grep sed change1234.script

As you can see, saving (and documenting) your commands is easy and offers some nice features. It even allows you to forget what exactly you did… 😉

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