It happens fairly often that, while browsing, suddenly the cursor (touchpad) starts moving sluggishly, the LED light on my USB stick starts flickering without stopping (I use a Linux live CD on memory stick), and my CPU monitor shows it is working at 100% (and the monitor itself is freezing). My system is Porteus 3.2.2 and my browser is usually either Pale Moon, Firefox or Opera. The desktop is MATE.

So I know something is overloading my system, and so I want to kill my browser right away as otherwise I will have to wait possibly half an hour (or forever) for the system to get back to manageable.

But clicking the "force quit" icon in the toolbar is in this sort of situation hard to do if not outright impossible due to the lack of response of the system (and it takes 3 clicks in total to kill the browser: 1 on the icon in the toolbar, 1 in the browser window as soon as the cursor has changed into a cross, and 1 after getting a message asking if I really want to shut down the window). This whole kill sequence by itself can take maybe 10 minutes or more.

Is there a faster, better, more reliable way to do this?


From my experience, instead of waiting for the GUI to respond it's sometimes faster to switch to a virtual terminal (Ctrl+Alt+F1 to Ctrl+Alt+F6 on the distris I know so far), log in and issue a killall command from there. Use Ctrl+Alt+F7 (sometimes Ctrl+Alt+F8) to switch back to the GUI.

However, it would be better to find the source of this issue, and fix or work around it if possible. Often enough the system is starting to swap in and out in this case, which could mean you have either not enough RAM, or a leaky browser or some other app which is eating away the memory. I find it useful to have an eye on the memory and swap consumption in this cases, e. g. using xosview or some other monitoring tool. The rest is trial&error: Which action(s) do increase the memory usage? Does the memory get freed when you kill the browser, or some other app?

  • your methods using the keyboard sound good but in the situation I described, I don't think would be a solution as the computer is practically frozen (I don't know, I didn't try this yet). But I can ony agree it is better to find the source of this problem, and this is what I have been trying to do. The monitoring tools I am using basically show me the CPU load (and the temperature), the desktop I am using '(MATE) does not have a memory consumption or swap use app. I might see what xosview can do I guess. – Obiwan Kenoobi Feb 11 '18 at 5:08
  • I add to split my comment in two parts as the site did not allow me to write it all in one.... I think what the user needs is something allowing him to shut down whatever is suddenly raising the CPU load to that alarming level. The method provided here by MATE is absolutely unsatisfactory. - BTW I tried to edit my earlier comment but the "@Murphy" at the beginning disappeared and even when I tried adding it again it disappeared again! This is some real sh*t happening here. – Obiwan Kenoobi Feb 11 '18 at 5:16
  • "This is some real sh*t happening here." - No, it isn't. As the author of this answer I'm being noticed in general when some comment appears, so no need to address me explicitely. The StackExchange people are smarter than you assume. On the other hand, you still have to learn about how this site and the community works. I've provided you the links elsewhere. Do it. – Murphy Feb 11 '18 at 9:27

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