I am running debian right now and sometimes I need to kill java manually from the terminal, but when I try kill #pid# or pkill java nothing happens. No console output (ok, that's normal) and java is still running (not normal). The only way to kill it is to restart the PC. Any suggestions?


Maybe its ignoring the signal for some reason. Did you try kill -9?

But please note: kill -9 cannot be ignored or trapped. If a process sees signal 9, it has no choice but to die. It can't do anything else - not even gracefully clean up its files.

  • 1
    kill -9 is generally a last resort. It's better to try kill -11 then kill -6 first. If kill -11 doesn't kill it, kill -6 usually does. Try kill -11 first, wait a few/several seconds, and if the process is still alive, try kill -6. Wait several seconds and if it still isn't dead, you can then try kill -9. – laebshade Dec 28 '12 at 22:01

I occasionally have to kill -9. However, if this is happening regularly, you should fix the issue that is causing it. Kill -9 means something is way off.

In general, I only see this happen when you get yourself into serious memory thrash mode, which means you either need more system memory, or you're giving java too much memory when you start. More commonly, though, especially if you're developing stuff, you can see this when you run out of "PermGen" memory.


In any case, it may be due to OutOfMemory errors of some sort.

  • i think that is it. i havent tried it yet, but my machine on which the problem is, has 1GB Ram and java is allocating 512 MB. – Simiil Aug 19 '10 at 6:43
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    (Loooong delay on this comment...) If you're developing Java, 1 Gig of ram is pretty much not going to cut it. Bite the bullet and upgrade to at least 2, shoot for 4+. – kāgii Sep 2 '10 at 13:45

Read this, this and this . It will help you understand how kill command works.

You can search for the java pid with:

pgrep -l java or pidof java

Maybe you have zombie processes on the system, in that case read here


Try this:

kill -9 $(pgrep Java)

pgrep returns the PID of the process named "Java", and kill kills it

  • This should be essentially the same as pkill, which is what he's already using – Michael Mrozek Dec 29 '12 at 2:39

This should work:

killall -9 Java

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