I'm writing a script to stop an application. Sometimes the application doesn't want to stop. So after a several minute pause, if the application is still running I want to kill it. After a number of failures of the kill command, I tried adding the -9 to force stop it. This doesn't seem to work. Does anyone know how I can get this to function, even if I need to use a different command, I'm open to new things. :-)

Following is my command line:

ps -ef|grep -v grep|grep <process_name>|awk -F' ' '{print $2}' |xargs kill -9

Thanks in advance.

  • 6
    Seems to me this entire pipeline can be reduced to: pkill -9 <process_name> – muru Jun 1 '17 at 19:00
  • grep -v grep | grep «process_name» could be done better as grep «[p]rocess_name». (and if you did have to do it the first way then swapping the order would be more efficient.) – ctrl-alt-delor Jun 1 '17 at 20:39
  • what does ps -ef | grep -v grep | grep «process_name» | awk -F' ' '{print $2}' return? What about ps -ef | grep -v grep | grep «process_name» ? – ctrl-alt-delor Jun 1 '17 at 20:42
  • @richard and it will still be as useless as cat /path/file | grep xpto. pkill -9 <procname> should be enough... – user34720 Jun 1 '17 at 20:43
  • @nwildner I understand all of the words (except xpto), but I have no idea what you are saying. Something will still be as useless as something, but what I do not know. Please help, by re-writing comment. – ctrl-alt-delor Jun 1 '17 at 20:48

@muru was correct, but lately I've found that using the '-f' option to pkill is preferred. Matches against the entire process and argument list. Here we have a few servers running Tomcat processes and Logstash (sending data to Elastic). So 'kill -9 java' to stop the Tomcat process also kills the Logstash process.

pkill -9 -f 'pattern to match'


pkill -9 -f '/opt/tomcat/'

Example how to close php processes in batch. php you can replace using whatever your process has name:

ps -aux | grep php | awk '{print $2}' | xargs kill -9
  • The point made in a number of the comments and summarised nicely by the accepted answer is that such a pipeline is totally unnecessary. Even without pkill one can do ps -aux | awk '$11 ~ /[p]hp/ {print $2}' | xargs kill – roaima Apr 22 '20 at 17:16
  • Bear in mind that the only signal that every process is forced to obey is the KILL signal. The result of rest of the signals it depends on how such a program was coded. – sebelk Apr 22 '20 at 19:26

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