I have a bash script, in which I call function in a background:

process_manager $1 $2 $3 &

The function runs / executes commands that are passed as an argument in the background.

How can I get a list of child processes in the function process_manager ?

I tried doing that:

process_manager () {

  echo "bash_pid: $bash_pid, ppid: $PPID, last_pid: $last_pid"
  $cmd &
  $cmd &
  sleep 30 &

process_manager $1 $2 $3 &
process_manager $1 $2 $3 &
process_manager $1 $2 $3 &

But here function process_manager won't display $! or $last_pid when its called for the first time.

How should I get $last_pid in that situation and to be able to access children process list?


$$ contains the pid of the shell that was executed to interpret the script. It's the same in every subshell of that shell.

$! contains the pid of the last child command run in background (with & or coproc or process substitution)

In the command run itself in background, $! it not set. $! is meant for the parent so it can wait or kill its child.

bash has a $BASHPID variable that contains the pid of the current subshell.

It's not always clear what process it is.


echo "$BASHPID"

It's the pid of the process that interpreted that echo command, but in

/bin/echo "$BASHPID"

which does fork a process, $BASHPID does not report the pid of that forked process but the pid of the parent. While in:

/bin/echo "$BASHPID" &

(the only difference being that the parent doesn't wait for its child), $BASHPID reports the pid of the forked process:

$ bash -c 'echo "$$"; echo "$BASHPID"; /bin/echo "$BASHPID"; /bin/echo $BASHPID &'

In you case though, you can safely do:

process_manager () {
  cmd &
  cmd &

$pid_of_last_command_run_in_background will be the pid of the last command run in background (by the current subshell, or its parent or its grandparent). That's why you get something in $last_pid in the second run (the pid of the previous process_manager) and not in the first.

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