I recently installed 12.04.
When I try to edit a file with gedit, I can't use the terminal until I close the editing file or I have to open a new terminal. But I think I didn't have this problem with 11.04, however I'm not sure.
Is there anyway to avoid this and to use same terminal while editing files.


7 Answers 7


Short Answer

In the unresponsive terminal:

  1. Hit Ctrl+Z.
  2. Type bg and enter.
  3. Type disown and enter.

Long Answer

In the unresponsive terminal, hit Ctrl+Z, this will "pause" the process (or "job") and return the console control to you. However, you'll notice that gedit becomes unresponsive and you can't use it.

Extra: if you want to, you can execute the command jobs, you'll notice that it'll read Stopped for the gedit command, that's why you can't use it.

To make the job successfully run in the background (i.e. to make gedit responsive again), execute the command bg (meaning background). You'll now be able to use gedit, and at the same time have the prompt to yourself.

Extra: now, if you execute jobs, you'll notice that it'll read Running.

You can overcome all of this from the very beginning. When you're launching gedit from the terminal, add an & to the end of the command, so something like this gedit /path/to/file &. This will launch gedit in the background from the first place (you might need to hit Enter a couple of times to get the console control back).

Extra: if you were following these extra notes, you might have noticed that the second time you did jobs, you could see that bash added a & to the end of the gedit command.

Once you get used to this system, you might notice that if you close the terminal, gedit will also terminate, without even a confirmation dialog. To prevent this from happening, run disown, which will detach the gedit process from the terminal, removing it from the list returned by jobs.

  • 2
    It's always surprised me that there is no way to immediately background a process that's running in the foreground. You have to pause it first, which sometimes isn't viable.
    – detly
    Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 13:19
  • @detly read the part "You can overcome..." again!
    – guntbert
    Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 13:40
  • @guntbert - Doesn't help if the process is already running...
    – detly
    Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 23:22

Just type:

gedit <filename-to-edit> &

This will immediately return the command prompt to you.

  • 5
    This is an important unix idiom, and worth knowing. Any command can be run in the background this way. Tools that are interactive obviously will be confused by this treatment, but for example bubblesort war_and_peace.txt % will allow your sorter to crank away at the masterpiece (for a long, long time) while you get on with your work (say, implementing quicksort or something) Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 19:16
  • 1
    @JonKiparsky Amusing example - does make the point.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 18:29

You could use the nohup to prevent the GUI to be attached to a terminal:

nohup mupdf some.pdf &

This will allow you to close the terminal you are launching from, without the program being closed.

You should also notice, that the nohup command will create a file with the stdout and stderr of the command you run. If you want to prevent that, add &>/dev/null before the &.

nohup mupdf some.pdf &>/dev/null &
  • 4
    "nohup" stands for "no hang up". This dates back to early Unix, when (physical) terminals were regularly attached via telephone lines, and you'd therefore close a terminal by hanging up the phone.
    – MSalters
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 8:05
  • 3
    Additional information: The nohup command will create a file nohup.out containing output from the command. This is useful if you want to view error messages. If you don't want the file to be created, add redirection as follows: nohup mupdf some.pdf &>/dev/null & Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 11:02

You can also use disown command. It is particularly useful when you've already started the process you no longer want attached to the terminal.

The basic procedure if I remember correctly, is something like this:

$ > firefox      #Oops
Ctrl + z         #Suspend the process
$ > bg           #Push the process to the background
$ > disown       #Detach most recent process started or stopped
$ > exit         #Terminal gone!

Note that disown is bash specific.

This blog post explains both methods pretty well.

Man page for disown

  • A shortcut: firefox & disown
    – Flimm
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 9:28

From man gedit:

-b, --background
         Run gedit in the background.

So, if you run gedit with -b option, it will start in background:

gedit -b [FILE-NAME]

Moreover, next you can create an alias for gedit -b (see here how to create a permanent alias):

alias gedit='gedit -b'

From now, in the future you can use gedit [FILE-NAME] as normal and it will start in background.

  • 2
    It's a bad idea to use alias to redefine common commands. You'll find lots of threads about it on stackexchange. It is fine to use an alias with a different name. In a nutshell, aliasing existing commands creates unexpected behavior on your machine if someone else ever uses it (like when trying to help you fix some other problem) and it does the same thing to you when you use another system without those aliases and your commands don't work as you expect. One of the poster children for this is alias rm='rm -i'. It gets you used to deleting things with a second chance that's not always there.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 18:38

Just type:

gedit FILENAME & disown

Ending a command with & in bash runs that command in the background. However, that process is still attached to the terminal.

Without disown, if you close the terminal, gedit will close, without even prompting you to save an edited file. disown detaches the background process from the current terminal, so that if you close the terminal, gedit will continue to run as normal. Turns out I was wrong, this is not the case for bash, but it is the case for zsh. You still need to run detach after doing ctrl-z and bg, though, even in bash.

You can find out more about the built-ins jobs, disown and the & metacharacter in the manpage for the bash command Manpage icon, especially the section labelled "job control".

  • with disown I was able to keep the gedit open after terminal closed. I didn't get what you said about " this is not the case for bash, but it is the case for zsh"
    – Midhun KM
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 6:21

This is probably because you opened gedit via terminal. When you do this, you see the command line output that is normally hidden if started via the GUI. The best way to fix this is to open a new terminal window. The other will become available after gedit closes. You can also use the switch the above user suggested.

  • A new terminal window just clutters the desktop, even if it's minimized. Using & with or without disown is much simpler and cleaner.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 18:42

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