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When I type google-chrome in the terminal it works. xdg-open google-chrome doesn't.
Why is this so? I need to do this so that I can run Chrome without keeping the terminal open, which xdg-open google-chrome allows me to do.

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xdg-open is for opening a file. Not for applications. – jokerdino May 22 '13 at 15:02
wrong! you can open applications as well. Try xdg-open firefox. And btw, "Everything in linux is a file" – hades33 May 22 '13 at 15:06

XDG-open is for opening the "right" application for the file type. In your case you like to run the application google-chrome in the background - XDG-open is not used for this purpose.

Instead, use your shell (assuming Bash here) to have the program run in the background:

nohup google-chrome &

Explanation: appending & makes it run in the background (you'll get your shell back) while nohup will keep the application open (disowns). See my answer in How can I close a terminal without killing the command running in it? for more details.

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prog & disown seems to work well. But not nohup prog &. It does not display the prompt. prog &; disown does not work. – hades33 May 22 '13 at 15:27

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