LPI Linux Certification/Create, Monitor And Kill Processes

Detailed ObjectivesEdit

Weight: 4

Candidates should be able to perform basic process management.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • Run jobs in the foreground and background.
    • Signal a program to continue running after logout.
    • Monitor active processes.
    • Select and sort processes for display.
    • Send signals to processes.
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • &
    • bg
    • fg
    • jobs
    • kill
    • nohup
    • ps
    • top
    • free
    • uptime
    • killall

Create processesEdit

A running application is a process. Every process has: a process ID, a parent process ID, a current directory PWD, a file descriptor table, a program which it is executing, environment variables (inherited from its parent process), stdin, stdout, stderr (standard error), and possibly even more (optional) traits.

Bash is a program that when it is executed becomes a process. Each time you execute a command in a shell a new process is created. Except for the built-in shell command. They run in the shell context. Use type to check if a command is a built-in shell command.


type cp ls which type

Monitor processesEdit

To monitor the processes in real-time, use top.

top - 9:20am  up  2:48,  4 users,  load average: 0.15, 0.13, 0.09
78 processes: 75 sleeping, 3 running, 0 zombie, 0 stopped
CPU states: 15.3% user,  0.3% system,  0.0% nice, 84.2% idle
Mem:   254896K av,  251204K used,    3692K free,       0K shrd,   27384K buff
Swap:  514072K av,       0K used,  514072K free                  120488K cached
1517 rarrigon   0   0 40816  39M 17372 R    15.0 16.0   2:59 mozilla-bin
1727 rarrigon  19   0   988  988   768 R     0.3  0.3   0:00 top
   1 root      20   0   220  220   188 S     0.0  0.0   0:04 init
   2 root      20   0     0    0     0 SW    0.0  0.0   0:00 keventd

RSS is the total amount of physical memory used by the task. SHARE is the amount of shared memory used by the task. %CPU is the task's share of the CPU time. %MEM is the task's share of the physical memory. Once top is running it is also possible to execute interactive commands:

  • Type N to sort tasks by pid.
  • Type A to sort tasks by age (newest first).
  • Type P to sort tasks by CPU usage.
  • Type M to sort tasks by memory usage.
  • Type k to kill a process (NOTE: You will be prompted for the process' pid).

Once the system is up and running from a terminal it is possible to see which processes are running with the ps program.

To display a long format of all the processes in the system, use the following:

ps -Al
004 S     0     1     0  0  80   0 -   112 do_sel ?        00:00:04 init
004 S     0   381     1  0  80   0 -   332 do_sel ?        00:00:00 dhcpcd
006 S     0  1000     1  0  80   0 -   339 do_sel ?        00:00:00 inetd
044 R     0  1524  1222  0  79   0 -   761 -      pts/3    00:00:00 ps

The ps program will display all the processes running and their PID numbers and other information. To see a long format of the processes in your login session, use:

ps -l
000 S   500  1154  1139  0  80   0 -   724 wait4  pts/1    00:00:00 bash
002 S   500  1285  1283  0  77   0 - 24432 wait_f pts/1    00:00:00 soffice.bin
040 R   500  1442  1435  0  79   0 -   768 -      pts/4    00:00:00 ps
F: Process Flags 002: being created, 040: forked but didn't exec, 400: killed by a signal.
S: Process States: R: runnable, S: sleeping, Z: zompbie
UID: User ID, PID: Process ID, PPID: Parent Process ID, C: Scheduler, PRI: priority
NI: Nice value, SZ: size of routine, WCHAN: name of routine

Kill processesEdit

The ps program will display all the processes running and their PID numbers. Once the PID is known, it is possible to send signals to the process:

  • SIGSTOP to stop a process.
  • SIGCONT to continue a stopped process.
  • SIGKILL to kill a process.

The program to send a signal to a process is called kill.

kill -SIGKILL [pid]
kill -63 [pid]
kill -l

By default a process is started in the foreground and it is the only one to receive keyboard input. Use CTRL+Z to suspend it.

To start a process in the background use the &.

bash &
xeyes &

In a bash process it is possible to start multiple jobs. The command to manipulate jobs is jobs.

jobs      # List all the active jobs
bg %job   # Resume job in background
fg %job   # Resume job in foreground
kill %job # Kill background job

When bash is terminated all processes that have been started from the session will receive the SIGHUP signal. This will by default terminate the process.

To prevent the termination of a process, the program can be started with the nohup command.

nohup mydaemon


1. How can you control CPU usage for PID 3196

Last modified on 24 January 2011, at 21:21