How can I tell matlab it's running in the background?

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I'd like to be able to run a job either in the background or in the foreground. My program runs fine in the foreground but crashes in the background, presumably because it's not seeing some environment variable. The command that causes the crash is useful only for foreground applications (it relates to screen output) so I could easily avoid this problem if I could flag whether or not the program is running in the foreground. So my question is: does matlab know if it's being run as a foreground or background application, and if yes, what variable would indicate this?
Thanks for any advice
Leo Simon
Leo Simon on 31 Mar 2013
Hi Jason, Sorry somehow I missed your response. Sorry for the lack of clarity.
I'm running on linux.
sometimes I run using nohup, other times using the -r flag.
I want to distinguish either case from when I'm running a command from within matlab.
In particular, I have a program that I sometimes run as a batch job, other times from within a matlab session. If the former I want to quit out of it, if the latter I want simply to return to the caller workspace

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Accepted Answer

Jason Ross
Jason Ross on 1 Apr 2013
I would run "system(env)" in both modes, put the output to a file, and diff them.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the difference is tied to the DISPLAY environment variable.
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Leo Simon
Leo Simon on 14 Apr 2014
Thanks very much Jason, you're quite right! I don't know why I didn't try your suggestion before now. But it works beautifully, at least for linux, haven't tried it on anything else.
In case anybody else cares about this (doesn't seem that way!) here's some code that does the check
%Checks whether a program is running the foreground or background.
%It's in the foreground iff there's a line in system('env') that says
function isBg = bgfg;
isBg = 1;
[~,myEnv] = system('env');
for ii=1:numel(startString);
if strcmp(myEnv(endString:endString+1),':0');

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