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I am on Ubuntu 15.10 x64. When I am trying to edit server.js file, it is opening a blank nano editor and displaying "File server.js is being edited (by root with nano 2.4.2, PID xxxx); continue?" with options - Yes, No, Cancel.

I copied a backup file on this file but still I am getting the same message.

Could you please suggest how to resolve this.

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    Check with tools like ps and htop whether this other nano instance is still running. If it's not, there's most likely a hidden dotfile in the same folder which leads nano to believe that the other instance is still running (at least vim works this way, I don't use nano; try ls -lA and look for a file that begins with .server.js or something like that. Jun 5, 2016 at 14:52
  • Thank you very much Martin. There was a .server.js.swp in the same directory. Deleting it worked. Can you you please post your comment as answer so that I can accept it.
    – rangma
    Jun 5, 2016 at 15:08

4 Answers 4

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Check with tools like ps and htop whether this other nano instance is still running. If it's not, there's most likely a hidden dotfile in the same folder which leads nano to believe that the other instance is still running (at least vim works this way, I don't use nano; try ls -lA and look for a file that begins with .server.js or something like that.

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    In my case, an ssh connection was interrupted while editing FILE.txt. nano saved a snapshot in FILE.txt.save and some sort of lock file called .FILE.txt.swp (note the . at the beginning). Deleting the lock file fixed the issue, overwriting the file with the .save version restored my changes. Sep 25, 2018 at 1:31
  • Use screen or tmux in the future, no more trouble from interrupted SSH sessions :) Sep 27, 2018 at 15:14
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In addition, if you're the only user on that machine and you're sure that you don't have an open editor on that file in another window, you can just accept nano's offer to continue, it will remove the leftover swap file, saving you a few steps.

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On my Ubuntu Linux server it gives me an option to hop back into the stopped nano job:

Use "fg" to return to nano.

So, you could try to simply type fg.

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I was editing a file called serial.c and ran into that problem. I backed the file up using cp serial.c serial2.c and then deleted the original with rm serial.c. Issuing a nano serial.c still returned the error, even though the file didn't exist. Performing an ls -lA revealed that there was a hidden swapfile called .serial.c.swp, which I deleted using rm .serial.c.swp. Then I was able to rename my serial2.c back to serial.c using mv serial2.c serial.c, and now I'm able to edit the file without the conflict.

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  • This is basically a rehash of the accepted answer, augmented by the specifics of your experience. For future reference, renaming the file is unnecessary; just delete the .swp file. Aug 22, 2020 at 19:53

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