View Running Processes from the Command Line

45 minutes
  • 6 Learning Objectives

About this Hands-on Lab

In this hands-on lab, we will practice finding and viewing processes running on a Linux system. Being able to locate a particular process and view its status is a fundamental component of systems administration.

Learning Objectives

Successfully complete this lab by achieving the following learning objectives:

Determine How Many Processes Are Currently Running

Run the following command:

ps aux | grep -v grep | wc -l
Determine the Current System Load

Run one of the following commands:

cat /proc/loadavg
Determine How Many Processes Are Running as cloud_user

Run the following command:

ps -U cloud_user | wc -l
Determine the PID of the xfce4-session Process

Run the following command:

ps aux | grep xfce4-session | grep -v grep
Determine How Many Threads the xfce4-session Process Is Using

View the current threads reported in the PID’s status. Replace <PID_VALUE> with the PID value obtained from the last objective (the value after cloud_u+):

cat /proc/<PID_VALUE>/status | grep Threads
Write a Small Shell Script that Returns the Number of Threads in a Process

Create a new file named /home/cloud_user/bin/, and add the following script:


  if [ -n $1 ]
    _pid=$(ps aux | grep -E "$1$" | grep -v grep | grep -v | awk '{print $2}')
    cat /proc/$_pid/status | grep Threads

Make the script executable with chmod u+x bin/

Determine the number of threads the xfce4-session process is running with ./bin/ xfce4-session.

Additional Resources

Use what you've learned about viewing running processes to answer the following questions:

  • How many processes are currently running?
  • What is the current system load?
  • How many processes are running as cloud_user?
  • What is the PID of the xfce4-session process?
  • How many threads is the xfce4-session process using?

(Optional) Write a small shell script to return the number of threads a process—passed as an argument—is running. This script should be created as /home/cloud_user/bin/

What are Hands-on Labs

Hands-on Labs are real environments created by industry experts to help you learn. These environments help you gain knowledge and experience, practice without compromising your system, test without risk, destroy without fear, and let you learn from your mistakes. Hands-on Labs: practice your skills before delivering in the real world.

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