Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm on an Ubuntu 10.04 box, and started a server in the background (myserver &) over ssh. It's been running fine, but I need a way to get at the server's stdin, as the only way to control the server is through this method.

Is there some way to get at the stdin of an already-running process so I can write to it (and hopefully read its stdout)? Obviously, if I were going to be doing this now, I'd start it with a FIFO redirecting to stdin, but unfortunately it's a little late for that now.

Any ideas?

share|improve this question
Couldn't you just bring it back to the foreground? ('jobs' will list your current background process, 'fg $X' will bring the job back to the foreground, ctrl+b will pause the job and return you to your shell, while 'bg' will continue the paused process in the background) – symcbean May 4 at 16:38
up vote 6 down vote accepted

You could try writing to it's /proc pid directory. Say your daemons' pid is 2000, try writing to /proc/2000/fd/0

share|improve this answer
Thanks... I found that right after I posted this (after a day of looking--typical). That seems to work (as far as actually sending data to the program). Unfortunately, the program doesn't accept the commands. I tested it running the server on my local computer, and sure enough, I see the data appear, but the program doesn't recognize the commands. I have to manually press enter on the server terminal, and then it just says unrecognized command. Maybe some java weirdness? I'm stuck... – tajmorton Oct 8 '10 at 9:35
how about echo -e "something\n" > /proc/2000/fd/0? – katriel Oct 8 '10 at 9:39
Actually, this is not alway sworking as /proc/<pid>/fd/0 points to /dev/pts<some number> on at least some systems... – bk138 Mar 17 '15 at 13:13
The first answer to… notes that this approach doesn't actually work. – barrycarter Dec 13 '15 at 17:26

You could start you server with a named pipe (fifo) as its input:

mkfifo /tmp/srv-input
cat > /tmp/srv-input &
echo $! > /tmp/srv-input-cat-pid
cat /tmp/srv-input | myserver &

The cat > /tmp/srv-input & is important to avoid your server to receive a EOF. At least one process must have the fifo opened in writing so your server does not receive a EOF. The PID of this command is saved in the /tmp/srv-input-cat-pid file for latter kill.

In your case where you've already started your server, you have to use a debugger such as gdb to attach to your process to redirect its stdin to the fifo:

gdb -p PID
call close(0)
call open(0, "/tmp/srv-input", 0600)

And then do something like bellow to send input to your server (in another terminal window if necessary):

echo "command" > /tmp/srv-input

To send a EOF to your server, you need to kill the cat > /tmp/srv-input process which PID has been saved in the /tmp/srv-input-cat-pid file.

In the case of GDB, just quit GDB and EOF will be sent.

share|improve this answer
this is a much more portable approach than the one from @katriel as /proc/2000/fd/0 is not stdin on all systems. – Prior99 Mar 2 '15 at 13:47
The trick with the "cat > /tmp/srv-input &" saved me some headaches. Thank you! – Prior99 Mar 2 '15 at 13:47
What about mkfifo /tmp/srv-input; tail -f /tmp/srv-input | myserver & ? This'll keep the pipe open as well... – bk138 Mar 16 '15 at 21:58
@bk138: it looks to me as tail should work, but there is only one way to know for sure: test. – jfgagne Mar 17 '15 at 7:34
tail doesn't work, but appended this to finish the job: cat /tmp/srv-input | myserver; kill -9 cat /tmp/srv-input-cat-pid` && rm /tmp/srv-input-cat*` – Thiago F Macedo Feb 1 at 10:54

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.