How to find and kill zombie processes on your Linux data center servers


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Zombied processes can point out a software program downside. So when a course of goes full-on zombie, you want to know what to do.

Easy methods to discover and kill zombie processes in your Linux information middle servers
Zombied processes can point out an issue with a bit of software program. Jack Wallen reveals you the right way to discover and kill these zombies in your Linux information middle servers.


Wait. Incorrect kind of zombies.

CPUUUU cycllllles.



Extra prefer it.

On occasion a Linux course of goes astray and does nothing—not even gobble up CPU cycles. Though zombies do not use treasured assets (like a working and rogue app may), it could actually pose a risk. How? When a course of is zombied, it retains its Course of ID (PID). Since Linux techniques have a finite variety of PIDs (though that quantity is fairly excessive), ought to sufficient PIDs be zombied, no different course of might launch.

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Possibilities of that occuring are most unlikely. Nonetheless, extra importantly, zombied processes point out one thing has gone improper with an software, and there may be a bug in a specific program. Bugs on information middle software program shouldn’t be tolerated and have to be addressed. Till the flaw is addressed, you may need to test for and kill zombie processes.

So when a course of goes full-on zombie, what do you do? You discover and kill these zombie processes. Let me present you ways.

Discovering a zombie

The very first thing to do is to seek out the zombie course of. Luckily, that is very easy, due to the ps command. Pipe the output of the ps command by grep to listing out any course of whose STAT is Z (for zombie). Open a terminal window and challenge the next command:

ps aux | grep 'Z'

The output of the above command will listing out any course of that features Z within the output (Determine A).

Figure A

Determine A: Loads of Zombied instructions.

As you’ll be able to see, there are a variety of working processes which have a Zombie standing. This command may even listing any course of that features the letter Z within the output, so you want to ignore something and not using a Z within the STAT column.

Killing a zombie

As a substitute of decapitating, burning, or utterly dismembering the zombie, we need to use the kill command to finish these zombies. The output of the primary command will embody the PID of all zombied processes, so to kill a kind of, you challenge the command:

kill PID

The place PID is the method ID of the method in query. So if you wish to kill the zombied thunderbird course of (with PID 20589), the command is:

kill 20589

And that is it.

You might get artful and cobble collectively a bash script to maintain this robotically, nonetheless, you run the danger of killing a essential course of. Due to that danger, I at all times suggest taking good care of this activity manually. That is very true, contemplating we’re working with a production-level, information middle server (though I demonstrated on a desktop machine).

Should you discover companies and apps crashing on you, you need to test for zombied processes and eliminate them. As soon as you understand which processes are being zombied, file a bug report or contact the developer and allow them to know (particularly if this turns into a daily prevalence for an software).

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Picture: Jack Wallen

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