Summary

The Linux kernel manages dozens or hundreds of processes, even on a lightly loaded system. These processes are related to one another in a tree-like structure, and each process has associated with it various pieces of information—its owner, a priority, and so on. You can learn about processes using ps, top, or various GUI tools. These tools can all be very useful diagnostic aids when a system isn't working as well as you'd like, and they can also be helpful in locating a specific process for more mundane purposes, such as terminating a server or telling it to reread its configuration file. The kill and killall programs send signals to processes, terminating them or causing them to perform other actions. You can also reprioritize programs, reducing the impact of CPU-intensive programs on interactive programs, by using the renice program, or you can start a program with a modified priority by launching it with nice. Other tools, including top, GUI process management programs, window managers, and xkill, can also help you modify the priority of or terminate running processes.

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