Pair programming with tmux

Published September 17, 2014 by Toran Billups

I've been pair programming with tmux for a few years because I've found it solves a lot of the traditional pain points I've had with past pairing setups.

  • A single keyboard/mouse makes for awkward "can I drive now" moments
  • A single developer machine makes breaking away to "google something" awkward when your pair is still typing/focused on a given problem
  • With a heavy weight IDE it's hard to share a single session across multiple machines

One of the biggest challenges with this setup is that you first need to ssh into your pairs machine. If you are on a team that uses a shared login of some kind this isn't a problem, but for everyone else this presents a problem.

But recently I found 2 solutions to this problem.

If you are on a mac you can use This program allows the person hosting the session to quickly create a sharable ssh session. Then the pair partner can simply paste this ssh link into the terminal and away you go!

If you are not on the mac, you are still in luck! If you want to allow someone else to ssh into your machine (with a username that is different than the one you are logged in with) type the following in your terminal

tmux -S /tmp/pair

chmod 777 /tmp/pair

Next have your pair partner login via ssh and when they are authenticated have them run the following from the terminal

tmux -S /tmp/pair attach

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