I usually kill a process with killall.

killall markdoc

But I am not sure if this command terminates the process gracefully. Does this command achieve graceful termination? If it does not, how can I kill a process with its name gracefully?

  • Does your distribution has start-stop-daemon?
    – manatwork
    Jan 4, 2012 at 9:52
  • I'm using Ubuntu 10.04 LTS server x64. What's that daemon?
    – Eonil
    Jan 4, 2012 at 10:33
  • It is a generic tool for starting/stopping daemons and managing related information, like pid files. It is present in Ubuntu, see its man page.
    – manatwork
    Jan 4, 2012 at 12:34

3 Answers 3


Your question is not clear, you talk about a daemon in the title, but in the body only talk about a generic process.

For a daemon there are specific means to stop it, for example in Debian you have

    service daemon-name stop


    /etc/init.d/daemon-name stop

Similar syntaxes exist for other initscript standards used in other distributions/OS.

To kill a non-daemon process, supposing it is in some way out of control, you can safely use killall or pkill, given that they use by default the SIGTERM (15) signal, and any decently written application should catch and gracefully exit on receiving this signal. Take into account that these utilities could kill more that one process, if there are many with the same name.

If that do not work, you can try SIGINT (2), then SIGHUP (1), and as a last resort SIGKILL (9). This last signal cannot be catched by the application, so that it cannot perform any clean-up. For this reason it should be avoided every time you can.

Both pkill and killall accept a signal parameter in the form -NAME, as in

pkill -INT process-name
  • Thank you. Actually my original question was about markdoc serve & and svnserve -d. I think it's a kind of daemon, but nothing was certain to me :)
    – Eonil
    Jan 4, 2012 at 9:01
  • killall is the killer!
    – xdevs23
    May 9, 2016 at 16:04
  • Sometimes process can ignore SIGTERM and SIGINT, so there would be no way to stop it "gracefully", the only way out would be to send SIGKILL Feb 18, 2023 at 8:26

On BSD-like and other distros, you will often have scripts in /etc/rc.d/ that typically manages starting, restarting and stopping daemons in your system. To stop a daemon you would either call the scripts with the absolute path e.g.:

# /etc/rc.d/acpid stop

or use the command:

# rc.d stop acpid

I highly recommend to try out this script for showing your systems started and stopped daemons:


  if [[ $target != "functions" && $target !=  "functions.d" ]]
    if [[ -f "/var/run/daemons/$target" ]]

    printf "$stat \t\e[1;34m$target\e[0;0m\n"

daemons=($(for daemon in /etc/rc.d/*; do echo "${daemon#\/etc\/rc.d\/}"; done))

if [[ $1 != "" ]]
 chk_status $1
 for d in "${daemons[@]}"; do
   chk_status $d
 done | sort

Check for killproc function available in /etc/init.d/functions script, source the file and use the function. Or use pgrep and pkill utilities to check whether they are working intendedly and then use them. Example: pkill -SIGTERM mysqld would send the TERM kill signal to have mysqld perform a safe shutdown and flush the databases onto the disk, before getting killed.

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