Posts Tagged ‘detach’

How to disown a process once it is running on Linux – old but useful trick

Thursday, December 20th, 2018


There is one very old but  gold useful UNIX / Linux trick, I remembered which will be interesting to share it's called  it is called disowning.

Lets say you run execution of a job an rsync job or a simple copy job of a very large file, but in the middle of the copy you remembered you need to do something else and thus want to switch back to shell (without opening a new ssh if on remote server) or a new console if on a local machine.
Then how can you background the copy process and move the process to the rest of long running process system list e.g. "disown" it from yourself so the process continues its job in the background just like of the rest of the backgrounded running processes on the system.

Here is the basic syntax of the disown command:

help disown
disown: disown [-h] [-ar] [jobspec …]
    By default, removes each JOBSPEC argument from the table of active jobs.
    If the -h option is given, the job is not removed from the table, but is
    marked so that SIGHUP is not sent to the job if the shell receives a
    SIGHUP.  The -a option, when JOBSPEC is not supplied, means to remove all
    jobs from the job table; the -r option means to remove only running jobs.


Here is a live example of what I meant by above lines and actual situation where disown comes super useful.

The 'disown' command/builtin (this is in bash), which will disassociate the process from the shell and not send the HUP signal to the process on exit.

root@linux:~# cp -rpf SomeReallyLargeFile1 SomeReallylargeFile2

[1]+  Stopped                 cp -i -r SomeReallyLargeFile SomeReallylargeFile2
root@linux:~#  bg %1
[1]+ cp -i -r SomeReallyLargeFile SomeReallylargeFile2 &
root@linux:~#  jobs
[1]+  Running                 cp -i -r testLargeFile largeFile2 &
root@linux:~# disown -h %1
root@linux:~# ps -ef |grep largeFile2
root      5790  5577  1 10:04 pts/3    00:00:00 cp -i -rpf SomeReallyLargeFile SomeReallylargeFile2
root      5824  5577  0 10:05 pts/3    00:00:00 grep largeFile2

Of course you can always use something like GNU screen (VT100/ ANSI Terminal screen manager) or tmux (terminal multiplexer) to detach the process but you will have to have run the screen  / tmux session in advance which you might haven't  yet as well as it is  required one of the 2 to be present on a servers and on many servers in complex client environments this might be missing and hard to install (such as server is behind a firewall DMZ-ed (Demilitirezed Zoned) network and no way to install extra packages), the disown command makes sense.

Another useful old tip, that new Linux users might not konw is the nohup command (which runs a command immune to hangups with output to a non-tty), nohup's main use is if you want to run process in background with (ampersand) from bash / zsh / tcsh etc. and keep the backgrounded process running even once you've exited the active shell, to do so run the proc background as follows:

$ nohup command-to-exec &


Hope this helps someone, Enjoy!


How to start a process in background and keep it running after the console / terminal is closed on Linux and FreeBSD

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

The classical way to keep a process running in background after log out of a shell is using screen
Anyways using screen is not the only way to detach a running process , GNU / Linux and BSDs (Free, Open, Net BSDs) had a command nohup which aim is to run a command immune to hangups, with output to a non-tty

Let’s say one wants to keep track (log) constantly ICMP traffic to a certain host with ping command on a UNIX server / desktop which doesn’t have the screen manager … terminal emulation program installed. Achieving this task is possible with nohup cmd by backgrounding the ping process, like so:

guoi@host:~$ nohup ping >ping.log &[1] 45931hipo@host:~$ nohup: ignoring input and redirecting stderr to stdout

Afterwards even after closing up the opened ssh session or console (tty) / terminal (pts) on which the ping process is background nohup prevents the ping to be sent kill SIGNAL so the process continues running in the background.

Later on to check in real time the statistics of the continuous ICMP ping requests tail, less, or cat can be used for example watching the tail:

hipo@host:~$ tail -f ping.log
64 bytes from ( icmp_req=562 ttl=51 time=44.0 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_req=563 ttl=51 time=43.8 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_req=564 ttl=51 time=43.3 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_req=565 ttl=51 time=43.1 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_req=566 ttl=51 time=43.4 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_req=567 ttl=51 time=43.6 ms

I’m using Linux / BSD for quite a lot of time and never before put in use the nohup cmd I guess there are more ppl who never heard of this handy UNIX basic command. Hope I’m not the only one who never heard about it and its useful knowledge to someone out. Cheers 😉