I use disown to run long-running process via SSH. For example I run the following program:

vmd -e script.tcl > out.txt &

Then I use disown -a to deattach it from the shell. When I reconnect the terminal the out.txt shows that the program has finished. However, it shows the command prompt of the vmd (vmd>). VMD is a program for running TCL scripts for chemistry simulations. You can assume it is something like python with its own shell


After a while, I couldn't connect to ssh because of the limit on the running processes (fork retry: Resource temporary unavailable). First, I want to know how I can kill those disowned processes if they are in waiting state.

Second, I want to know if I exit the vmd program by putting exit at the end of my script.tcl, would it resolve the problem above for future uses?

  • vmd ain't a tool I ever heard about. Without some information about what that tool is, I don't think this question can be answered.
    – kasperd
    Jun 10, 2018 at 11:08
  • 1
    These days, I would prefer to run this inside a screen or tmux session and not fiddle around with disown etc.
    – Sven
    Jun 10, 2018 at 11:09
  • @kasperd I modified my question.
    – Ahmad
    Jun 10, 2018 at 11:36
  • @Sven I can't run screen via SSH, the command is not found. I use MobaXTerm to connect the server.
    – Ahmad
    Jun 10, 2018 at 11:37
  • @Ahmad Then just install it.
    – kasperd
    Jun 10, 2018 at 11:40

1 Answer 1


There Is More Than One Way To Do It. (TM)

Solution 1 (probably the best): add the command to exit vmd to the end of your script.

Solution 2: redirect standard input of the vmd command to (or from, depending on your mindset) the null device, like so:

vmd -e script.tcl > out.txt < /dev/null &

That way when vmd is done with your script and tries to read the next command from standard input it will receive "end of file" and exit.

Solution 3: Kill the left over vmd process with kill. You'll need its PID for that which you can either note as the shell prints it after starting it with &, or find through the command ps ax. Try kill -TERM (the default) first, if that doesn't work use kill -HUP. Do not use kill -KILL aka kill -9.

Solution 4: Use screen or tmux instead of disown. That way you can reconnect to the running vmd process and enter further commands like exit.

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