I'm trying to find out how to run a command in the background and then bring it to the foreground later. I'm fed up of tutorials and answers where people state that it's simple, just append & to the end of the command to get it run in the background. It's working only within a single terminal window. I want to put the command into the background in one terminal and get it back to foreground after reopening the terminal


$ grunt &
$ jobs
$ [1]+  Running  grunt &

Of course after closing terminal no one job is found.

Next example:

$ grunt & disown #the same behavior has: $ setsid grunt &
$ jobs
$ [nothing] #but ps shows that grunt is working

after close terminal, grunt doesn't work

What did I do wrong? Could anybody explain me how to run the command in the background and get it back to foreground.


It's impossible in the way you want.

Let's review some basic concepts:

  • A process group is a collection of related processes which can all be signalled at once.
  • A session is a collection of process groups, which are either attached to a single terminal device (known as the controlling terminal) or not attached to any terminal.

If you closed the terminal, all the processes in the session are dead except those (daemons) reparented to the init process. And there's no way to give them a controlling terminal again.

In a word, process reparenting is highly restricted in POSIX systems (daemonizing is an exception) and your requirements can't be satisfied.

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    Technically this is the correct answer, but I believe visitors who are having this problem will find "their solution" in the other answers mentioning screen/byobu/tmux. – Programster Jan 18 '14 at 11:46
  • You are right.., but from my point of view, the basic concepts are more important to understand system working better and understand what you want and doing wrong. Thank you both! – Timur Fayzrakhmanov Jan 18 '14 at 11:51
  1. Install screen:

    sudo apt-get install screen
  2. Start screen:

    screen -S session_name
  3. Execute your commands what you need.

  4. Detach screen from the terminal (your commands will be still running):

    Press CTRL+a+d

  5. Close the terminal

  6. Open another terminal and reattach the last screen session:

    screen -r

For more information and extra options for screen look in man screen.

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    Screen or byobu (especially if you are running ubuntu). Byobu is based on screen if I'm correct, but I find that it has extra functionality that I find useful and easier to use, but that's a matter of opinion. – Programster Jan 18 '14 at 11:40
  • Thank you good suggestion! Maybe It will be need in the feature!) From Russia with love <3 – Timur Fayzrakhmanov Jan 18 '14 at 11:46
  • @Programster, yeah, Byobu is ex. screen. It has both byobu-screen and byobu-tmux. – user.dz Jan 18 '14 at 11:51
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    I recommend tmux as an alternative to screen. – gerrit Jan 18 '14 at 15:28

Have you tried: byobu or tmux which are terminal multiplexers. Not exactly what you are looking for, but it has similar behavior.


Then run your command, to detach:

byobu-screen -d

To resume:

byobu-screen -r

See https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Screen

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  • Those ones also, +1. – falconer Jan 18 '14 at 11:35

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