8 releases

✓ Uses Rust 2018 edition

new 0.2.0 Nov 14, 2019
0.1.6 Nov 7, 2019
0.1.3 Oct 23, 2019

#144 in Command line utilities

Download history 89/week @ 2019-10-22 17/week @ 2019-10-29 48/week @ 2019-11-05

53 downloads per month

MIT license

315KB
8K SLoC

teleterm

share your terminals!

Overview

When I was first learning to program, one of the things I did in my spare time was play NetHack. In particular, I played on the nethack.alt.org public server, and hung out in #nethack on IRC. One of the things that made this a great learning environment was that all games played on this server are automatically recorded and livestreamed. This allowed you to both watch other people play to pick up tips, as well as ask other people to look at your game and give you advice.

After a while, a group of us realized that this model could be used for more than just playing games, and set up a similar terminal re-broadcaster for general purpose use. This allowed us to see what other peoples' development environments and workflows were like in real time, and made collaborating on projects much more seamless. teleterm is an attempt to recreate that environment that was so helpful in my own learning process, while fixing some of the issues that the original version had.

In particular, teleterm is intended to be able to be run entirely transparently (you shouldn't even know it's running while you're streaming), and you should be able to keep a window open to watch other peoples' terminals in the corner of your screen without it being disruptive. teleterm doesn't include any functionality to control your local terminal remotely, and doesn't include any communication functionality (other than the terminal itself) - it is best used in an already existing community with more featureful communication methods.

Features

  • Transparently broadcast your terminal session, optionally using TLS encryption and secure authentication
  • Automatically reconnect in the background when you lose internet connectivity, without the work you're doing in your terminal session being disrupted
  • Record and play back ttyrec files

Installation

If you have a working rust installation, teleterm can be installed from source by running cargo install teleterm. Otherwise, we provide prebuilt packages for a couple operating systems:

Arch Linux

Ubuntu/Debian

All packages are signed, and can be verified with minisign using the public key RWTM0AZ5RpROOfAIWx1HvYQ6pw1+FKwN6526UFTKNImP/Hz3ynCFst3r.

Usage

Streaming

You can start streaming by simply running tt (or tt stream). It will prompt you for some information about the server you would like to connect to, and store that information in a configuration file in your home directory. (Note that I am not running any publically accessible server, because I believe this works better as a tool for smaller, already existing communities, so you'll need to run your own or find someone else to host one first.)

Watching

To watch existing streams, run tt watch. This will display a menu of currently active streams - select one, and it will be displayed in your terminal. Press q to return to the menu.

Recording

You can record your terminal session to a file by running tt record. This uses the standard ttyrec file format, which can be understood by many different applications (including tt play). Note that both tt stream and tt record can be given a command to run instead of just a shell, so you can broadcast your terminal and record the session to a file at once by running tt stream tt record.

Playback

You can play back previously recorded ttyrec files by using tt play.

Configuration

Command line flags

These are documented via tt help.

Environment variables

tt respects the RUST_LOG environment variable to adjust the logging verbosity. By default, tt server displays logs at the info level and the rest of the commands display logs at the error level, but you can run a command like RUST_LOG=tt=info tt stream to see more information. Note that for interactive commands like tt stream, this will likely be disruptive, but you can send the output to a file by redirecting STDERR (since all process output is written to tt's STDOUT and all log output is written to tt's STDERR), like this: RUST_LOG=tt=info tt stream 2>>stream.log.

Configuration file

teleterm also optionally reads configuration from a configuration file. This file should be in TOML format, and stored either in ~/.config/teleterm/config.toml or /etc/teleterm/config.toml. If a configuration file does not exist, tt stream and tt watch will offer to create one for you automatically. The configuration has several sections:

[server] (used by tt server)

  • listen_address
    • Local address for the server to listen on, in the format HOST:PORT.
    • Default: 127.0.0.1:4144
  • buffer_size
    • Maximum size of the per-connection buffer to maintain, which will be sent when a new client connects (in order to be able to fully redraw the current terminal state).
    • Default: 4194304
  • read_timeout
    • Amount of time in seconds to wait without receiving data from a client before disconnecting that client. Note that besides sending data on terminal output, clients also send a heartbeat message every 30 seconds in order to keep the connection alive.
    • Default: 120
  • tls_identity_file
    • If this option is specified, the server will use TLS to encrypt incoming connections (and clients connecting to this server must enable the tls client option). The value of this option should be the path to a file containing the TLS private key along with a certificate chain up to a trusted root, in PKCS #12 format. This file can be generated from an existing private key and cert chain using a command like this:
      openssl pkcs12 -export -out identity.pfx -inkey key.pem -in cert.pem -certfile chain_certs.pem
      
    • Default: unset (the server will accept plaintext TCP connections)
  • allowed_login_methods
    • List of login methods to allow from incoming connections. Must be non-empty. Valid login methods are:
      • plain: The client supplies a username, which the server uses directly. Allows impersonation, but can be fine if that's not an issue for you.
      • recurse_center: The client authenticates via the Recurse Center's OAuth flow, and retrieves the user's name from the Recurse Center API.
    • Default: ["plain", "recurse_center"]
  • uid
    • If set and the server is run as root, the server will switch to this username or uid after binding to a port and reading the TLS key. This allows you to use a low-numbered port or a root-owned TLS key without requiring the server itself to handle connection requests as root.
    • Default: unset
  • gid
    • Same as uid, except sets the user's primary group.
    • Default: unset

[oauth.<method>] (used by tt server)

<method> corresponds to an OAuth-using login method - for instance, a section would be named something like [oauth.recurse_center]. Note that OAuth login methods are required to use http://localhost:44141 as their redirect URL.

  • client_id
    • OAuth client id.
  • client_secret
    • OAuth client secret.

[client] (used by tt stream and tt watch)

  • auth
    • Login method to use (must be one of the methods that the server has been configured to accept).
    • Default: plain
  • username
    • If using the plain login method, the username to log in as.
    • Default: the local username that the tt process is running under (fetched from the $USER environment variable)
  • connect_address
    • Address to connect to, in HOST:PORT form. Note that when connecting to a TLS-using server, the HOST component must correspond to a name on the TLS certificate used by the server.
    • Default: 127.0.0.1:4144
  • tls
    • Whether to connect to the server using TLS.
    • Default: false

[command] (used by tt stream and tt record)

  • buffer_size
    • Maximum size of the buffer to maintain, which will be sent to the server when reconnecting after a connection drops (in order to be able to fully redraw the current terminal state).
    • Default: 4194304
  • command
    • Command to execute.
    • Default: the currently running shell (fetched from the $SHELL environment variable)
  • args
    • List of arguments to pass to command.
    • Default: []

[ttyrec] (used by tt record and tt play)

  • filename
    • Name of the TTYrec file to save to or read from.
    • Default: teleterm.ttyrec

Troubleshooting

I'm trying to watch someone and the output is a garbled mess!

There are three main causes of this:

  1. Your local terminal size is not the same as the terminal size of the person streaming. A smaller terminal will almost definitely cause problems here (and the tt watch menu will display the terminal size in red if this is the case), but a terminal which is too large can also occasionally cause issues if the person is running a full-screen application that relies on the details of the terminal's line wrapping behavior.
  2. Your terminal type is incompatible with the terminal type of the person streaming. Different terminals use different escape sequences to represent various behavior (such as moving the cursor or clearing the screen) and while many of these are shared across terminals, many also aren't. In this case, you should switch to using a terminal which is compatible. Note that screen or tmux counts as a terminal in this sense, and so an easy fix here is often to just always run tt inside a screen or tmux session, both when streaming and watching (and convincing the person you're watching to do the same).
  3. The person you are watching has produced a large amount of terminal output without clearing their screen. Terminal output is determined by a sequence of drawing commands (issued via escape sequences) starting from a blank terminal, and this means that, depending on the output, it can require an arbitrarily large amount of data to recreate the current terminal accurately. teleterm puts a limit on the amount of data to save, however (to avoid running out of memory), and so long sequences of output without screen clears can cause display corruption. This can be fixed by just asking the streamer to clear their screen (either by running reset or clear from the command line, or by using the redraw functionality of the application they are running, typically bound to something like ^L or ^R).

Contributing

I'm very interested in contributions! I have a list of todo items in this repository at TODO.md, but I'm also open to any other patches you think would make this more useful. Send me an email, or open a ticket or pull request on Github or Gitlab.

Dependencies

~22MB
~463K SLoC