Keep a process running in linux with NOHUP

These days I have been doing some work on my Raspberry PI 3B+ with a Raspberry PI OS image, and have come across some situations in which I would like to continue having a command run even when I close the terminal window in which I started it. To do so I just need to use the NOHUP command at the start of the command line to do just that. However maybe there are just a few more things to write about on top of that when it comes to starting and killing processes in a Linux operating system environment.

When starting a command as an independent process there is not just using the nohup command and then that is it. There is also the question of what to do with any output that might be produced while the process is running? So often There might be a need to redirect that output of the process to a file, or pipe it to another command maybe. Also once a process is started there is also how to go about keeping and eye on it, and if need be stop it. So it looks like I will be touching base on at least a few other related topics in the process of covering how to go about keeping a command running in the background in Linux.

1 - Basic example of linux NOHUP

So the nohup command is how to go about doing a no hang up request for the command, and on top of that I would also use a ampersand symbol at the end of a command to send the process to the background so I can continue using the terminal window. So in other words the command prompt will return after calling the command, and the process will continue to run even if I close the terminal window.

So say I am in a project folder and I have a node.js script called app.js that will start a server. I want the server to start on its own separate process id, and then return to the command prompt. To do this I just place and ampersand at the end of the line like this.

$ nohup node app 8000 &
[1] 20293

when doing so I might be given a process id like above, and then return to the command prompt. This might work okay but then there is the question of how to go about stopping the process once it has started. In addition there might be some addition issues that will come up with this such as the standard output, and standard error output still being spit out into the terminal window that I am using. So lets take a look at a few more things to be aware of that typically surround the use of a NOHUP request in Linux.

2 - The kill command

Once a process is running it will continue to do so until it will self terminate, or until a command such as kill is used to stop the process.

$ kill 20293

3 - Keep a process running, and redirrect the output

There is the question of the output from the script as it continue to run. I might not want that being spit out at me when I continue to use the terminal window. Also I might not want for it to be lost when and if I choose to clone the terminal window also. So with that said in this section I will be quickly covering some ways to redirect the output of a process to a file, and any any other means of doing so.

3.1 - redirect just the standard output to a file

So if I just want to redirect the standard output to a file that will be overwritten each time, and I do not want to append to a file, or care about any other output from the process then I can just use the grater than symbol. It might also be called a closing pointy bracket symbol, anyway just place that after the command followed by a path to the file where the standard output will be written to.

$ nohup node app 8000 > ~/log.txt &

4 - Conclusion

So this is it for now when it comes to keeping a Linux process running in the background. To just recap there is the nohup command to remember that is the most important part of the whole process, but the ampersand after the command is also of importance when it comes to keeping the process running in the background so I can keep using my terminal window.

In addition there are other commands that come to mind such as the ps command and kill command as well as many others but that all might be jts a bit off topic So I will not be getting into it all in detail here at least.