I am fairly new to awk. I wanted to create a quick command to find the process number of my parent Nodejs process. I came out with this:

ps aux | awk '/node/' | awk 'NR == 1 {print $1}'

However, I think there should be a way to combine both awk commands into a single one. What is a more compact way of writing this?


While pgrep is more suitable for this task in specific, I still would like to know how to search and print the first row with awk.

  • Are you assuming that ps will always list a parent process before a child process? That wouldn't be a valid assumption. – G-Man Says 'Reinstate Monica' Sep 9 '16 at 1:11

You don't need any text processing on the output of ps, there is a dedicated tool for exactly this purpose, called pgrep.

Simply do:

pgrep node

instead of the string node, you can use a Regex pattern.

For a detailed output with process name:

pgrep -l node

To get the command name too:

pgrep -a node

Check man pgrep to get more idea.

if you insist on using awk on ps, and merging two awks as one, do:

ps aux | awk '/node/ {print $1; exit}' 
| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks a lot. This does exactly what I need. However, I still would like to know how to search and print the first row with awk. – Alberto Rivera Sep 8 '16 at 18:44
  • @AlbertoRivera check my edits. – heemayl Sep 8 '16 at 18:46
  • Thank you very much for your time. I will accept your answer. However, if that's OK with you, I would like to know how to print X row after searching. Say, I want to kill the children node process instead of the parent one. – Alberto Rivera Sep 8 '16 at 18:48
  • @AlbertoRivera There are so many ways to do that but again you are doing it wrong, you should look at pkill/killall. – heemayl Sep 8 '16 at 18:50

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