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firefox in Debian maps to iceweasel and invokes the program, however how can I get rid of the debug/status window and force it to act the same way as if I clicked on it in Applications -> Internet ?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

firefox & should fire it up in the background.

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the answer is fine, just a note of the difference between this way and the one i mentioned: if you leave the terminal open, you will still see messages from the process using this method. – Tim Hoolihan Jan 4 '10 at 21:06

redirect stdout and stderr to dev null

firefox >/dev/null 2>&1

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