In the highest ranked answer of question:

If computers start counting at 0, why does the init process have a pid of 1?

it was stated, that each process has a PPID (parent).

However I read (will provide link later), that there are a lot of processes which have no parents.

Could anybody put the contradictory statements into a reasonable context?


Processes always have a parent process. However, what process becomes the new parent when an existing process dies is not necessarily PID 1. Here's how Linux does it:

 * When we die, we re-parent all our children, and try to:
 * 1. give them to another thread in our thread group, if such a member exists
 * 2. give it to the first ancestor process which prctl'd itself as a
 *    child_subreaper for its children (like a service manager)
 * 3. give it to the init process (PID 1) in our pid namespace
static struct task_struct *find_new_reaper(struct task_struct *father,
                       struct task_struct *child_reaper)
    struct task_struct *thread, *reaper;

    thread = find_alive_thread(father);
    if (thread)
        return thread;

    if (father->signal->has_child_subreaper) {
        unsigned int ns_level = task_pid(father)->level;
         * Find the first ->is_child_subreaper ancestor in our pid_ns.
         * We can't check reaper != child_reaper to ensure we do not
         * cross the namespaces, the exiting parent could be injected
         * by setns() + fork().
         * We check pid->level, this is slightly more efficient than
         * task_active_pid_ns(reaper) != task_active_pid_ns(father).
        for (reaper = father->real_parent;
             task_pid(reaper)->level == ns_level;
             reaper = reaper->real_parent) {
            if (reaper == &init_task)
            if (!reaper->signal->is_child_subreaper)
            thread = find_alive_thread(reaper);
            if (thread)
                return thread;

    return child_reaper;

When a process's Parent dies, the process can be said to "have no parent". When this happens, PPID is set to 1, the PID of init.

Every process returns a $STATUS value on exit. The Parent may do something with this value, but it MUST free the memory $STATUS is stored in, and release the process data in the kernel.

  • ty, just to clarify: when a process has a parent and a grandparent and the parent gets killed, does thee new parent will become INIT or the grandparent?
    – sharkant
    May 26 '17 at 16:46
  • init. This is why the traditional way to create a daemon is fork-fork-exec. May 26 '17 at 17:59

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