How to start a process in background and keep it running after the console / terminal is closed on Linux and FreeBSD

Tuesday, 29th November 2011

Reading Time: 2 minutes
The classical way to keep a process running in background after log out of a shell is using screen
Anyways using screen is not the only way to detach a running process , GNU / Linux and BSDs (Free, Open, Net BSDs) had a command nohup which aim is to run a command immune to hangups, with output to a non-tty

Let’s say one wants to keep track (log) constantly ICMP traffic to a certain host with ping command on a UNIX server / desktop which doesn’t have the screen manager … terminal emulation program installed. Achieving this task is possible with nohup cmd by backgrounding the ping process, like so:

guoi@host:~$ nohup ping google.com >ping.log &[1] 45931hipo@host:~$ nohup: ignoring input and redirecting stderr to stdout

Afterwards even after closing up the opened ssh session or console (tty) / terminal (pts) on which the ping process is background nohup prevents the ping to be sent kill SIGNAL so the process continues running in the background.

Later on to check in real time the statistics of the continuous ICMP ping requests tail, less, or cat can be used for example watching the tail:

hipo@host:~$ tail -f ping.log
64 bytes from fx-in-f106.1e100.net (74.125.39.106): icmp_req=562 ttl=51 time=44.0 ms
64 bytes from fx-in-f106.1e100.net (74.125.39.106): icmp_req=563 ttl=51 time=43.8 ms
64 bytes from fx-in-f106.1e100.net (74.125.39.106): icmp_req=564 ttl=51 time=43.3 ms
64 bytes from fx-in-f106.1e100.net (74.125.39.106): icmp_req=565 ttl=51 time=43.1 ms
64 bytes from fx-in-f106.1e100.net (74.125.39.106): icmp_req=566 ttl=51 time=43.4 ms
64 bytes from fx-in-f106.1e100.net (74.125.39.106): icmp_req=567 ttl=51 time=43.6 ms

I’m using Linux / BSD for quite a lot of time and never before put in use the nohup cmd I guess there are more ppl who never heard of this handy UNIX basic command. Hope I’m not the only one who never heard about it and its useful knowledge to someone out. Cheers 😉

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One Response to “How to start a process in background and keep it running after the console / terminal is closed on Linux and FreeBSD”

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