Hiltmon

On walkabout in life and technology

Quick Process Search

I am forever starting and running background UNIX tasks, either manually or via cron jobs. And I am forever checking to see if they are running or not.

The usual command I used to use see if a process was running is

ps ax | grep bash

Where bash is the process that may or may not be running. It gives (headers added):

  PID TTY         TIME    CMD
  411 ttys000    0:00.04 -/bin/bash
  615 ttys001    0:00.04 -/bin/bash
  773 ttys001    0:00.00 grep bash

There are some issues with this:

  1. For long commands with redirections in them, it truncates the command at the width of the terminal (80 columns).
  2. I invariably then go looking at other utilities for memory or CPU usage, so there’s not enough information.
  3. The grep itself is found, adding another line to the output.
  4. Too much to type all the time, I am lazy.

A better version is:

ps auxwww | grep bash

This gives user, pid, memory and CPU as well as the full command line (headers added):

USER             PID  %CPU %MEM      VSZ    RSS   TT  STAT STARTED      TIME COMMAND
hiltmon          411   0.0  0.0  2433436   1600 s000  Ss    7:44PM   0:00.04 -/bin/bash
hiltmon          768   0.0  0.0  2432768    596 s001  R+    7:52PM   0:00.00 grep bash
hiltmon          615   0.0  0.0  2433436   1604 s001  Ss    7:48PM   0:00.04 -/bin/bash

Much better. But even harder to type. And it still contains the grep line.

So I created a bash function in my .bash_profile to make it easier:

# PS with a grep
function psax() {
    ps auxwww | grep "$@"  | grep -v grep
}

Now I just type:

psax bash

to get a nice clean result:

hiltmon          411   0.0  0.0  2433436   1600 s000  Ss    7:44PM   0:00.04 -/bin/bash
hiltmon          615   0.0  0.0  2433436   1604 s001  Ss    7:48PM   0:00.04 -/bin/bash

Top tip: A lot of people use this to get the pid’s of processes in order to kill them. All distributions now come with the killall command, so it is even easier:

killall stunnel

Kills all known instances of stunnel that you can kill.

The psax function has been added to all my logins, and I use it a lot!

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