Shove It To The Background
If, like me, you tend to start your programs in Linux from the command line, it’s easy to get way too many console
windows open at once. Even with multiple desktops, running several programs from the command line will clutter your
windows like nothing else.
If you’ve started a program from the console, you also know that closing the console to reduce clutter will kill the
program you opened. So what’s a person to do? Live with the clutter?
Hardly. There’s a simple command addition that will allow you to start multiple programs from a single console
window, all while keeping your programs alive. It’s the “&” character.
Executing any command with the & option pushes the program you’ve started into the background. In other words, it
frees it from the control of the console window.
This opens Netscape on my machine while leaving the console window open. I can see the commands being executed to
start Netscape. However, by pressing the [ctrl][c] keys, I’m returned to a command line, leaving me free to execute
other programs at will. The & symbol is a good example of the true multitasking nature of Linux.
One word of caution about pushing programs into the background. The more you shove off, the more CPU time you’ll
consume. Push too many away, and you may find your system slowing considerably.