Distributed Shell History
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Wesley Kerfoot c663d99624 Various improvements, add handler to list pids 5 years ago
.gitignore Better bash function 5 years ago
README.md Update README again 5 years ago
client.py Various improvements, add handler to list pids 5 years ago
server.rkt Various improvements, add handler to list pids 5 years ago
shelltalk.sh Better bash function 5 years ago



What is this?

I am experimenting with the idea of a distributed shell history. The goal is to be able to search your shell history across different bash processes easily. And potentially different computers.

This uses UNIX Domain Sockets to communicate with a server written in Racket. Each Racket thread corresponds to a shell process, and they receive shell commands as messages. If you want to get the history for a given process, you simply send a message to a thread and then it sends you back the history.

Unix Domain Sockets are ideal for this, as they are less likely to conflict with other services running on the machine (you specify a path, not a port). As well, they are more robust than FIFOs because they can handle multiple concurrent connections easily.

See here for a description of why FIFOs are not good for this.


  1. This tool works by modifying your PROMPT_COMMAND variable in Bash, as well as using the disown command to immediately detach the process that logs the last command. Hence, this will probably only work in Bash, and I have not (and have no plans to) make it work in zsh or any other shells at the moment. In principle, it is probably not terribly difficult to do the same thing though.

  2. The client.py module is probably very inefficient, as is the way it serializes and deserializes data as JSON. This will most likely change to some binary format.

  3. It will most likely try to integrate with journald in some way further down the line for persistence.

  4. At some point in the future, part of this may be rewritten in C, Pony, or Erlang, or a combination of all three.


  1. Compile server.rkt with raco exe server.rkt
  2. Run ./server
  3. Run source shelltalk.sh
  4. Execute commands
  5. See the history for this shell process with ./client.py -R $$