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Kill all processes matching a given name

Terminal - Kill all processes matching a given name
ps axww | grep SomeCommand | awk '{ print $1 }' | xargs kill
2009-02-28 17:48:51
User: philiph
Functions: awk grep ps xargs
Kill all processes matching a given name

This command kills all processes with 'SomeCommand' in the process name. There are other more elegant ways to extract the process names from ps but they are hard to remember and not portable across platforms. Use this command with caution as you could accidentally kill other matching processes!

xargs is particularly handy in this case because it makes it easy to feed the process IDs to kill and it also ensures that you don't try to feed too many PIDs to kill at once and overflow the command-line buffer.

Note that if you are attempting to kill many thousands of runaway processes at once you should use 'kill -9'. Otherwise the system will try to bring each process into memory before killing it and you could run out of memory. Typically when you want to kill many processes at once it is because you are already in a low memory situation so if you don't 'kill -9' you will make things worse


There are 3 alternatives - vote for the best!

Terminal - Alternatives

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What others think

pkill (-9) SomeCommand
Comment by sander85 378 weeks ago

pkill is a good alternative on linux or solaris but is not available by default on FreeBSD or Mac OS X.

Comment by philiph 378 weeks ago

ps axww | awk '/SomeCommand/ { print $1 }' | xargs kill

Awk can grep just fine, so you don't have to grep--one less command.

On systems which does not have pkill, try killall (My Mac and my linux boxes have it.) Be warned: killall will attempt to kill all processes, yours or not. Fortunately, since you do not have permission to kill processes that belong to other people, the worse case scenario is you get a bunch of error messages.

Comment by haivu 377 weeks and 5 days ago

Using killall is a terrible idea because if you accidentally run it as root on a machine where it really means 'kill all processes' you will do exactly that and b0rk the system.

Replacing the grep with awk is a really good idea, I need to remember that one!

Comment by philiph 377 weeks and 3 days ago

Ever tried "killall" on a solaris machine? Say bye bye to "init" :-)=

Comment by angrox 375 weeks and 2 days ago

Your point of view

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