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I am copying some files from an external drive to my desktop running Ubuntu. I can see the "File Operations" dialog which shows copying process.

How do I find this particular process in ps aux | grep command? I thought it would be some cp command but there is no cp command running! So how does this copying work? Please provide any pointers.

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The process name is nautilus. Nautilus contains its own code to copy files, this code is executed inside the nautilus process, not in a subprocess.

You can see for yourself what subprocesses Nautilus runs by logging its system calls with strace:

strace -f -o /tmp/nautilus.strace nautilus

The clone system call creates new processes (it's a generalization of fork). The execve system call runs another program in the same process. Running another program thus entails clone followed by execve. You can quickly see what programs Nautilus executes (or tries to) with

grep execve /tmp/nautilus.strace

You'll find that Nautilus creates subprocesses for some things such as previewing the content of certain types of files, but it does the file copying on its own.

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