I want to refresh the browser, like pressing the F5 or Ctrl+F5 key on the keyboard with a shell script.

I´m new in writing shell scripts so i aks you to help me with this:

when I type in this into the command line, the refresh works perfectly:

DISPLAY=:0 xdotool getactivewindow key F5

I wrote a script refresh.sh with this content:

export DISPLAY=:0.0
xdotool getactivewindow
xdotool key F5

But it reurns:

pi@babaloo ~ $ sudo sh /var/www/refresh.sh
No protocol specified
Error: Can't open display: (null)
Failed creating new xdo instance
No protocol specified
Error: Can't open display: (null)
Failed creating new xdo instance

can someone give me a hint?

Chromium Browser is in Kiosk mode, here is my



#@lxpanel --profile LXDE
#@pcmanfm --desktop --profile LXDE
#@xscreensaver -no-splash
@xset s off
@xset -dpms
@xset s noblank
@chromium --kiosk --incognito http://localhost/output/output.php?monitor=1

~~ EDIT:

I changed my script to

export DISPLAY=:"0.0"
xdotool getactivewindow
xdotool key F5

when i start it from console with

sh /var/www/refresh.sh

it works!

But now i want to execute this script by PHP with user www-data. Therefor i added to visudo:

www-data ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: /var/www/refresh.sh

and Created a PHP-File with this content:

exec("sudo sh /var/www/refresh.sh");
<h1>Refreshing output</h1>

But nothing happend...

Is there a chance to get more informations about the returning errors? I found nothing in documentation for "exec"-command.

Also tried:

$output = array();
$output[] = exec("sudo sh /var/www/refresh.sh");

but the returning array is empty

  • 1
    It might be because you run your script as root.
    – kursus
    Nov 6, 2013 at 18:46
  • theres no difference when I run it without sudo
    – s3bi
    Nov 7, 2013 at 12:04
  • Why do you run PHP exec to refresh a web page. That is so overkill! Just use Javascript to refresh the page window.location.reload(false); -You use a timer, or ajax to control when to refresh. Since you have PHP running to execute the page you are viewing I assume the page you want to refresh is your page...
    – Piotr Kula
    Nov 7, 2013 at 13:18
  • I have a lot of JS stuff in the browser and I need a "real" browser refresh (without javascript). This should clear the DOM. Another posibility is to close the browser with killall chromium and restart the application after... but i thin it´s a more "overkill".
    – s3bi
    Nov 7, 2013 at 13:22
  • meta refresh tag ?
    – Lawrence
    Nov 7, 2013 at 13:26

3 Answers 3


I used a mix with PHP and jQuery Ajax now. I write a parameter into a Databas, if its "0", nothing will happen, if it is "1" the page relaods.

   var times = 0;

    var refreshId = window.setInterval(function(){
      // check refresh!
        type : "GET",
        url : "check.php",
        cache : false,
        success: function(data){
          var data = $.parseJSON(data);
          var refresh = data.refresh;

          if(refresh == 1){
  • use location.reload(true) to force the cache to be dropped and load the freshest data. like CRTL+F5. You should mark your answer as solved.
    – Piotr Kula
    Nov 7, 2013 at 15:15
  • 1
    thanks, I already solved the caching problem in the document header, but your solution is also good!
    – s3bi
    Nov 7, 2013 at 17:42

I achieve to do this by creating a dummy file on the folder, and making the php check if that file exists.

1.- My website has a time interval to check it ever

$(document).ready(function() {
      setInterval(checkRefresh, 10000);    

function checkRefresh()
            url: "checkrefresh.php"
    }).done(function (response) {
        if (response == 1)

2.- In an administrative website, I have a button to launch the php that creates the file:

(in admin.html..)

  $('#btn_refresh').click(function () {        
              url: "refresh.php"
          }).done(function (msg){
          }).fail(function () {
              alert('Error calling refresh script!');

(refresh.php contents...)

    // I put the time inside the file, to help me know when something didn't work ok if the file gets stuck there
    $time = time();

    if(!touch('refreshcookie', $time)) {
        echo 'Something went wrong when trying to reload the webpage!';
    } else {
        echo 'Refresh order sent, this may take up to ten seconds';

3.- Finally, the checkrefresh.php checks if the file is there, and if is so responds and deletes it


    $imagefile = 'admin/refreshcookie';
    if (file_exists($imagefile))
        echo 1;
        echo 0;

I would prefer to have an event instead of checking every x seconds, but it works...

Hope it helps!


Try this:

@exec("sudo sh /var/www/refresh.sh", $output, $resultCode);
echo "<br>output: ";
echo "<br>resultCode: ";
// remove the echoes/dumps later

Something similar is working on my pi (3B+ => stretch)

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