Is it possible to send a command from the console, say tty1, to the terminal currently occupied with X (in my case tty7 as I use Debian), to tell for example mplayer to play a movie?

Edit - made a shorthand function with the commands I learned in the answer below:

function movie () {
  chvt 7
  DISPLAY=":0" mplayer -fs $1 > /dev/null 2> /dev/null
  chvt $ORIG_TTY

1 Answer 1


I'm exactly sure about what you are looking for. But to launch a new application inside a running X server you can use for example:

DISPLAY=":0" mplayer -fs video.ogg

You can choose the id of the X server, and you may add an optional screen identifier like :0.1 to launch the application in screen number 1.

  • Yes, that's the thing I looked for. Do you also happen to know how to incorporate the focus shift into that command (i.e., to emulate the Alt-F7 keypress to get the X display)? But your answer is correct. Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 11:44
  • 2
    Try with chvt. (It was hard to remember the name of this command, I don't use it everyday…) Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 11:46
  • Yes, chvt 7 does it. Commented Aug 20, 2012 at 11:49

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