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Is it possible to run a program that usually displays a window without showing one? I want to run empathy in gnome shell but if I exit the app, it kills the process.

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Not quite get your meaning.. – Sam Liao Feb 24 '12 at 4:03
basically I want a way to make an arbitrary application run without opening a window. – vanjoe Feb 24 '12 at 6:31
Arbitrary app? I don't think so. Maybe kill the X server but then some apps will exit because it is considered (and justifiably so) an unrecoverable error. Why can't you just minimize the window? – Peon Feb 24 '12 at 7:29
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Do this:

~ $ Xvfb :1 &
~ $ DISPLAY=:1 empathy &
~ $ ps

If everything went as expected, you should now see a process listing containing your empathy process.

Note: I don't have Gnome or empathy available on any boxes right now, so I don't know how well empathy likes being in a vfb. Works splendidly for xdvi, though.

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Possible that this works, i couldn't figure out how to get xvfb, i did apt-get install xvfb on Mint, but it still said command not found. Oh well, in the time between asking this question and now this has become far less important to me, perhaps because I have less school work that I should be doing. – vanjoe Feb 26 '12 at 20:57
Pardon my misspelling, the X in Xvfb should be uppercase. – Eroen Feb 26 '12 at 22:09

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