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Distribution: Solaris 9 & 10, Mac OS X, Ubuntu Server
">" sends the standard output of the command to /dev/null (in this case).
"2>&1" sends the standard error to the same place the standard output is going.
"&" at the end says to run it in background. This gives you your prompt back and allows you to continue with doing other things. The first 2 options are somewhat typical when sending something off to run in background. The presumption is that it will log errors somewhere for you in some other way.
Note that background jobs launched from your terminal session are still tied to your terminal session. If you exit your terminal session you will kill the job.