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I am trying to open 2 separate windows/instances of emacs from the terminal in a single command. I have tried:

emacs &; emacs &

(error: bash:syntax error near unexpected token ; and

emacs & && emacs &

(error: bash:syntax error near unexpected token && but both ways produce errors. How can I produce in a single command 2 windows of emacs to emerge?

  • Rather than saying the attempts "produce errors", please show the actual errors. The messages you see may be helpful in diagnosing what is going awry. – DopeGhoti Sep 13 '18 at 21:45
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You need only single separator between commands: ; or & or && etc, so try

emacs & emacs &

If you run emacs &; emacs & then you start emacs in the background, and then run ; without any command so bash claims it doesn't expect this separator there (syntax error near unexpected token ;).

Similar error you will get by just running bare ;:

bash$ > ;
bash: syntax error near unexpected token `;'

Not all shell behaves like that, for example in zsh you can even do

zsh$> ; ; ls; ; ls&; ls&; ; ls &; ;

without any problems (but not ;; without space in-between) as it is a separator on itself, used in case statement).


The other thing you tried, emacs & && emacs &, is even worse as second command (after &&) should be run only if the first one ended successfully (this is what && does). But, since we run the first command in the background shell doesn't wait for its finish, so that condition doesn't make much sense. Once again: use just single separator between commands, either command1 & command2 or eventually command1 && command2.

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