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
  1. Run the following command:
    ps aux | grep -v grep | wc -l
Determine the Current System Load
  1. Run one of the following commands:
    cat /proc/loadavg
Determine How Many Processes Are Running as `cloud_user`
  1. Run one of the following commands:
    ps -u cloud_user | wc -l
    ps aux | grep -v grep | grep -E "^cloud" | wc -l
Determine the PID of the `xfce4-session` Process
  1. Run the following command:
    ps aux | grep xfce4-session | grep -v grep
Determine How Many Threads the `xfce4-session` Process Is Using
  1. Determine the PID:
    ps aux | grep xfce4-session | grep -v grep
  2. View the current threads reported in the PID’s status:
    cat /proc/PROCESS_PID/status | grep Threads
Write a Small Shell Script that Returns the Number of Threads in a Process
  1. 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

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/

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