screen is a Linux tool for managing multiple shell windows. Upon running it in a headless version of Elementary I received the following error:

(watson)huey@terminus:~$ screen

Cannot make directory '/var/run/screen': Permission denied

How can I resolve this?

  • Just wondering, why do you run a headless version of elementary? What purpose does this setup serve?
    – embik
    Jul 4, 2015 at 19:09
  • I run it in on a Chromebook for access to more capabilities.
    – Huey
    Jul 4, 2015 at 23:09

1 Answer 1


It appears to be a bug primarily affecting server installs and other headless versions of Ubuntu.

It can be fixed with sudo /etc/init.d/screen-cleanup start.

According to the bug description:

I believe this is because /etc/rcS.d/S70screen-cleanup is running via upstart much earlier than it expects to have run, and is failing to correctly clean up that directory.

  • sudo /etc/init.d/screen-cleanup start Don't have effect to me.
    – user17590
    Mar 8, 2019 at 20:33

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