1. A task running in the background (a background task) is detached from the terminal where it was started (and often running at a lower priority); opposite of foreground. This means that the task's input and output must be from/to files (or other processes).
Nowadays this term is primarily associated with Unix, but it appears to have been first used in this sense on OS/360.
Compare amp off, batch, slopsucker.
2. For a human to do a task "in the background" is to do it whenever foreground matters are not claiming your undivided attention, and "to background" something means to relegate it to a lower priority. "For now, we'll just print a list of nodes and links; I'm working on the graph-printing problem in the background." Note that this implies ongoing activity but at a reduced level or in spare time, in contrast to mainstream "back burner" (which connotes benign neglect until some future resumption of activity). Some peopl
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