If you've ever used SSH to connect to a server, you 'll know its limitations: if you want to open a new window, you'll need to create a second SSH connection to the server. And if the connection breaks during the SSH tunnel, you've lost your progress. This is where Screen comes in.
Screen, which calls itself a "full-screen window manager that multiplexes a physical terminal between several processes (typically interactive shells)." is a usefull tool to use 1 SSH connection, but use multiple screens to work in. So you can have 1 screen to write some scripts in, another to tail a logfile and a third to check your IRC messages ;-)
Screen is installed by default on most installations, you can verify this by running the "which screen" command. If it's not installed, try to apt-get or yum it -- it's in most repositories.
You can start screen by typing:
This makes sense, right? :-)
You'll probably notice that not much happens if you type that. At least, it seems like not much as happened. In fact, you've just opened a new "screen" to type your commands. The program "screen" has a few commands of its own, in order to create a new window, and navigate through the open ones.
Once you've opened "screen", you can see a command list by typing "CTRL + A", followed by "?" (the question mark). By typing "CTRL + A" you state that the next signal is to be sent to the program "screen", in stead of to the Shell (like you would in a normal shell). You'll see a list of all bindings known to "screen".
Start a new window by typing "CTRL + A" + "c". The C stands for Create -- I know, too obvious. A new window will be created. In order to test this, type the command "top". Then create a new window, by using "CTRL + A" + "c". You'll see top disappear, and a new window will open. Type in some commands of your choice, and return to the previous window, by doing "CTRL + A" + "n". The "n" stands for "Next", and will open the next screen. "CTRL + A" + "p" would've opened the previous screen.
Closing a window, can be done by typing "exit" (like you would in a normal shell). This will cause you to fall back to the previous monitor you opened, or to your main prompt -- where you started screen, showing you a message such as "[screen is terminating]" -- so you'll know you've hit the main shell.
The biggest advantage in using screen, is that you can "detach" a screen-session. This means you return to the normal shell, but the processes started in "screen" are still active in the background. You can detach yourself by typing "CTRL + A" + "d". Again, obvious that "D" stands for Detach. This gives you more flexibility for managing your server(s): you can start a number of processes, quietly exit the shell and return a couple of hours later to pick up the session started in screen.