Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

Killing those runaway processes that refuse to die

5th July 2008

I must admit that there have been times when I logged off from my main Ubuntu box at home to dispatch a runaway process that I couldn’t kill and then log back in again. The standard signal being sent to the process by the very useful kill command just wasn’t sending the nefarious CPU-eating nuisance the right kind of signal. Thankfully, there is a way to control the signal being sent and there is one that does what’s needed:

kill -9 [ID of nuisance process]

For Linux users, there seems to be another option for terminating process that doesn’t need the ps and grep command combination: it’s killall. Generally, killall terminates all processes and its own has no immunity to its quest. Hence, it’s an administrator only tool with a very definite and perhaps rarely required use. The Linux variant is more useful because it also will terminate all instances of a named process at a stroke and has the same signal control as the kill command. It is used as follows:

killall -9 nuisanceprocess

I’ll certainly be continuing to use both of the above; it seems that Wine needs termination like this at times and VMware Workstation lapsed into the same sort of antisocial behaviour while running a VM running a development version of Ubuntu’s Intrepid Ibex (or 8.10, if you prefer). Anything that keeps you from constantly needing to restart Linux sessions on your PC has to be good.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please be aware that comment moderation is enabled and may delay the appearance of your contribution.

  • All the views that you find expressed on here in postings and articles are mine alone and not those of any organisation with which I have any association, through work or otherwise. As regards editorial policy, whatever appears here is entirely of my own choice and not that of any other person or organisation.

  • Please note that everything you find here is copyrighted material. The content may be available to read without charge and without advertising but it is not to be reproduced without attribution. As it happens, a number of the images are sourced from stock libraries like iStockPhoto so they certainly are not for abstraction.

  • With regards to any comments left on the site, I expect them to be civil in tone of voice and reserve the right to reject any that are either inappropriate or irrelevant. Comment review is subject to automated processing as well as manual inspection but whatever is said is the sole responsibility of the individual contributor.