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I run a lot of programs in Ubuntu from the terminal, but I would like to be able to continue using the terminal after I have a program open. How can I put the programs in the background so that I don't have to open another window?

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up vote 17 down vote accepted

There are different ways to run a terminal program and continue using the terminal:

  • You can open another terminal tab (right-click, then select "Open New Tab").
  • You can append & to the command you run. Be aware that you will not see text output to the terminal, such as error messages.
  • You can type Ctrl-Z and then run bg. This has the same effect as running command &
  • You can run nohup command & and then press enter. (Thanks to ccpizza, see comments below.)

However, pressing Alt-F2 and then running your command from the GUI is usually considered best practice - there is no terminal at all!

Note that when using & (not nohup), closing the terminal will still terminate the application unless you run disown afterwards.

EDIT: It looks like using nohup will sometimes leave little droppings in your home folder. What would normally have been logged to the terminal is apparently saved to a file in ~/.


A simple way to run a program in the background is program-name & disown, which will drop you to a terminal which can be closed without killing the process.

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To prevent killing the child process after the terminal is closed you can start your app as nohup firefox&. – ccpizza Dec 3 '12 at 22:25
Cool! I didn't know that (but upon experimentation, the terminal is still "blocked")! – WindowsEscapist Dec 3 '12 at 23:35
it is not 'blocked', it only 'looks' blocked, if you type enter once you will get a prompt. – ccpizza Dec 4 '12 at 21:07
Ah, I didn't notice that before. – WindowsEscapist Dec 5 '12 at 0:06

You can run the command with a & after.

For example:

thunderbird &

See Here for more info.

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