Unix & Linux Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of Linux, FreeBSD and other Un*x-like operating systems. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm looking for the Linux tool that will print the same output as the Solaris ptree. For example:

# ptree 538
538   /usr/lib/ssh/sshd
  889   /usr/lib/ssh/sshd
    890   /usr/lib/ssh/sshd
      1498  -sh
        1649  bash
          1656  -sh
            1660  bash
              13716 ptree 538

I'm aware that pstree exists, but I don't like its output format. Does anyone know any similar tools?

share|improve this question

migrated from serverfault.com Sep 3 '11 at 22:17

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.

This is all I know that is most like ptree in linux

ps -ejH
share|improve this answer
Or ps axf. I find it more readable. – manatwork Sep 4 '11 at 9:47
or even ps axf -o pid,command – jlliagre Sep 4 '11 at 15:56
Thanks everyone, I like the 'ps axf' output. – Eldar Oct 26 '11 at 1:37

Here's a script that shows output similar to Solaris pstree. No option is supported, and user matching is not supported. This script should be portable to all POSIX systems. On some systems whose ps command isn't POSIX-compliant, you may need to adjust the options passed to ps. The script includes specific support for BSD systems, so most platforms should be covered.

#! /bin/sh
## Usage: $0 [PID...]
## Show the processes on the system. For each process, show the process
## id followed by the command line. Show child processes after their parent,
## indented.
## If one or more PIDs are specified, only show the ancestors and
## descendants of those PIDs. If no PID is specified, show the subtree
## rooted at PID 1.
## This utility mimics Solaris pstree(1).
case $(uname) in *BSD*) ps_A='-ax';; *) ps_A='-A';; esac
ps $ps_A -o pid= -o ppid= -o args= |
sort -k 1n |
awk -v targets="$*" '
# children[p]: the " "-separated list of the pids of the children of p
# cmd[p]: command line of p
# list[lb..le]: list of pids yet to traverse
# depth[p]: depth of process p: depth(child) = depth(parent) + 1
# parent[p]: pid of the parent of p
# show[p]: 1 to show p, 2 to show p and all its descendants
    list[0] = 0; lb = 0; le = 0;
    depth[0] = -1;
    pid=$1; ppid=$2;
    sub(/^ *[0-9]+ +[0-9]+ /, "");
    if (pid == ppid) {
        # This process is a root: add it to the list of processes to taverse
        list[++le] = pid;
    } else {
        children[ppid] = children[ppid] " " pid;
        parent[pid] = ppid;
    cmd[pid] = $0;
    # Parse targets into a list of pids (or 1 if none is specified).
    split("_" targets, a, /[^0-9]+/);
    delete a[1];
    if (a[2] == "") a[2] = 1;
    for (i in a) {
        show[a[i]] = 2; # Show targets recursively
        p = parent[a[i]];
        # Show target ancestors
        while (p && !show[p]) {
            show[p] = 1; 
            p = parent[p];

    # Traverse the list of processes
    while (lb <= le) {
        pid = list[lb++];
        # Add children to the list of processes to traverse
        split(children[pid], a);
        for (i in a) {
            list[--lb] = a[i];
            depth[a[i]] = depth[pid] + 1;
            if (show[pid] > 1) show[a[i]] = show[pid];
        # Show the current process if desired, indenting to the right depth
        if (show[pid]) {
            for (i = 1; i <= depth[pid]; i++) printf("  ");
            printf("%-5d ", pid);
            print cmd[pid];
share|improve this answer

This probably isn't what you're looking for exactly, but others might appreciate it.

htop has a tree view if you press F5.

share|improve this answer

Perhaps pstree does fit the bill?

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.