I have seen trap 'kill $(jobs -p)' EXIT in shell scripts which sends SIGTERM to all the jobs of the shell when this shell closes. If one executes a bash script, then new bash shell is started. For example here user executes ./trap_test.sh and this creates a bash instance with PID 98959:

 | |     |-+= 05624 user /usr/local/bin/bash
 | |     | \-+= 98959 user /bin/bash ./trap_test.sh
 | |     |   \--- 98960 user sleep 10

Under which circumstances it is possible that job is still running while the parent shell is closed? In the example above if I kill PID 98959 then PID 98960 is killed automatically. trap 'kill $(jobs -p)' EXIT seems to be useless to me as all the child processes should be killed anyway when the shell itself is closed.

  • 2
    " In the example above if I kill PID 98959 then PID 98960 is killed automatically" - are you sure about this - I cannot replicate this with bash and SIGTERM
    – iruvar
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 14:43
  • Sorry, I made a mistake. I'm afraid the sleep 10 simply finished at the time when I sent the SIGTERM to 98959. If I use longer sleep time and kill the PID 98959, then PID 1 becomes the parent process ID of 98960. In a nutshell, trap 'kill $(jobs -p)' EXIT is not useless.
    – Martin
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 9:02

1 Answer 1


If the sub process is started with nohup it will live on after the parent shell exits/dies, that is after all the purpose of the nohup command.

Other possibility is if the script or process handles the kill signal(s) (obviously not kill -9) and ignores it, then if you start it as a background task it will not die when the current shell exits..



 function trap_handler
     echo "SORRY! I am not going down MUAHAHA!"

 trap trap_handler SIGINT SIGTERM SIGHUP 

 while true
      sleep 60

So if I start this as a background task and try to kill it this is what happens:

 $ ps -ef | grep test &
 $ jobs
 [1]+  Running                 ./test_trap.sh &
 $ kill %1
 $ Terminated
 SORRY! I am not going down MUAHAH!

 $ jobs
 [1]+  Running                 ./test_trap.sh &

Ok, now let's monitor the process from a different terminal and watch what happens when I exit the terminal/shell the script was started from:

 $ pstree -clap 26163
  └─test_trap.sh,26175 ./test_trap.sh
       └─sleep,26183 60
 ## exited the original terminal window with exit
 $ pstree -clap 26163
 $ pstree -clap 26175
 test_trap.sh,26175 ./test_trap.sh
   └─sleep,26185 60

The terminal process does not exist anymore but when I do a pstree on the process ID for the test_trap.sh that was started, it and its sub processes are still there.

  • In the example above, where did your PID 26175 attach to when you exited the original terminal window? To PID 1?
    – Martin
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 11:21
  • It attached to the parent "upstart" process which is under the current user session. if that goes away it will eventually be owned by the root process with pid 1.
    – Rob
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 13:48

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