This is quite an interesting thing I noticed, for instance:

  • I use Atom Editor and I call it via my Terminal using:

    $ atom

    and press Enter, which triggers the Editor and also make the terminal cursor point to the new line; making it (Terminal) free for further command line utilities.

  • However, when in use RhythmBox using rhythmbox as terminal command, it tends to work on the foreground (I guess) and keeps the terminal occupied till I close Rhythmbox or use CTRL+C.

I tried this with texmaker too and it performs similar thing as Rhythmbox. I know that & will take the process on the background but is there a logical explanation for some applications as mentioned here?

Any hacks or tips so that I can learn how to tweak things like this?


I try using CTRL+Z on the above mentioned applications and the apps then gray out and become unresponsive and I have to force quit on them


  • Using Ubuntu 16.10

  • Gnome Terminal

  • echo $SHELL give /bin/bash

  • 3
    I believe their developers coded this behaviour ( free terminal) into them while others didn't Mar 17, 2017 at 12:59
  • George is right. Not a setting. Not tweak-able. Requires a patch the source code.
    – user535733
    Mar 17, 2017 at 13:01
  • You can press Ctrl+Z to "free the terminal", but keep the program open. OR many other ways
    – M. Becerra
    Mar 17, 2017 at 13:02
  • 1
    It behaves nasty when use CTRL+Z on both rhythmbox and texmaker @M.Becerra Both apps freeze and do not work. I have to forcefully kill them using their PID
    – Shan-Desai
    Mar 17, 2017 at 13:06
  • @user535733 technically, program itself isn't tweakable unless you modify the source code, but there are Linux tools to detach a program from controlling terminal. See my answer Mar 17, 2017 at 14:51

2 Answers 2


As has been pointed out in the comments, such behavior is specific to each application. Applications written in C programming language, for example, can employ setsid call to disconnect from controlling terminal, although they require call to fork() syscall first. Python, also has os.setsid() and os.fork() functions; although it is possible to simply use os.fork() to create a child process and kill the parent.

Another very frequent technique that software authors use is launching applications via wrapper script, and calling a new process via nohup. That's exactly what atom does:

$ file $(which atom)
/usr/bin/atom: Bourne-Again shell script, ASCII text executable
$ grep 'nohup' $(which atom)                                                            
    nohup "$ATOM_PATH" --executed-from="$(pwd)" --pid=$$ "$@" > "$ATOM_HOME/nohup.out" 2>&1
      cat "$ATOM_HOME/nohup.out"

You can do so as well. For instance, the way I tend to launch programs and detach them from terminal is via a function, that launches desired program with nohup already appended to the command:

runstuff() {
    nohup "$@" >/dev/null 2>&1 & 

Once you define that in your .bashrc , you can launch firefox like so :

runstuff firefox

Another way, is via setsid command (which is named same as the C system call, but is actually a standalone binary):

setsid firefox
  • Definitely a thorough answer with a concise understanding. Thanks
    – Shan-Desai
    Mar 17, 2017 at 14:57
  • 1
    Yeah, yeah nice, nice. But my vote is for the avatar. Mar 17, 2017 at 15:02

If you use Ubuntu with X environemnt you can push Ctrl + F2 and then put the command you need (i.e. rythmbox). It won't have separate terminal where you can push ctrl+C.

You can also try to run nohup rythmbox &. It should run your player in backgroud and make it terminal-close-proof.

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