I am looking for a linux command (like ls, time or anything similar) that spawns multiple processes. Anything which is to be run from a command line and not a shell script.

The reason is I want to see parent-child relationship on the htop and with different Process IDs.


  • 4
    It might be easier to write a program than to use an existing command. After all, commands exist to do something, and you might not want that something to be done. You could easily write a program that spawns processes that do something like compute the first N primes, taking up processor cycles but having no other effect on your system.
    – jamesqf
    Feb 1, 2019 at 18:05
  • Would dig do?
    – kasperd
    Feb 2, 2019 at 14:18
  • @jamesqf Thanks! I actually wanted to avoid writing a Multithread code myself. But, your argument on "commands do something which I don't want" gives me enough motivation to write one. Feb 3, 2019 at 12:25

2 Answers 2


The & command separator will do this for you. Use it carefully and wisely, but here is a simple way to see process relationships:

$ sleep 5 & pstree -p $$
[1] 13369

The [1] 13369 shows that sleep (which has PID 13369), has been put into the background as Job #1. $$ returns to the shell the PID of itself, so we feed that into pstree to show the process tree with a root of our shell's PID, to show all child processes.

  • In fact, I want to avoid shell in the picture altogether. But, the hack is nice! Feb 3, 2019 at 12:29

If you don't want to have any shells in the mix, you can simply use one of the "wrapper" programs that spawn another program to do something with it:

  • /bin/time sleep 60
  • watch sleep 1 (this one will keep respawning sleep)

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