pstree: Associating Child Processes

Written by Benjamin Cane on 2011-08-13

Sometimes tracking down which process spawned a child process can be an arduous task, especially when you've reached more than 5 parent processes. To alleviate some of that headache Unix/Linux has a command called pstree which will show processes in a tree format.


[[email protected] ~]# pstree  

This is awesome if you are trying to find where a process originally spawned from. Below is a couple of flags I like to add to pstree to make it even more helpful.

-a Show command line arguments. If the command line of a process is swapped out, that process is shown in parentheses. -a implicitly disables compaction for processes but not threads.
-l Display long lines. By default, lines are truncated to the display width or 132 if output is sent to a non-tty or if the display width is unknown.
-p Show PIDs. PIDs are shown as decimal numbers in parentheses after each process name. -p implicitly disables compaction.

Example Output:

[[email protected] ~]# pstree -alp  
 NetworkManager,1108 --pid-file=/var/run/NetworkManager/  
  dhclient,2333 -d -4 -sf /usr/libexec/nm-dhcp-client.action -pf /var/run/ -lf /var/lib/dhclient/ -cf /var/run/nm-dhclient-eth0.conf eth0  
 VBoxClient,1806 --clipboard  
 VBoxClient,1813 --display  
 VBoxClient,1819 --seamless  

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Benjamin's specialty is keeping the lights on for mission critical systems. He is currently building applications that enable high concurrency financial transactions.

Recently Benjamin published his first book; Red Hat Enterprise Linux Troubleshooting Guide. In addition to writing, he has several Open Source projects focused on making Ops easier. These projects include Automatron, a project enabling auto-healing infrastructure for the masses.


Identify, capture and resolve common issues faced by Red Hat Enterprise Linux administrators using best practices and advanced troubleshooting techniques

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Excellent, excellent resource for practical guidance on how to troubleshoot a wide variety of problems on Red Hat Linux. I particularly enjoyed how the author made sure to provide solid background and practical examples. I have a lot of experience on Red Hat but still came away with some great practical tools to add to my toolkit. - Amazon Review