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Linux `ps` Command Explained

The ps command in Linux is utilized for reporting a snapshot of the current processes. It provides information about the running processes, their PIDs ( Process ID), the user who owns the process, CPU and memory usage, and other details.


The basic syntax for the ps command is as follows:

ps [options]


Here are some commonly used options with the ps command:

--helpNADisplay the help message and exit.
aNAShow processes for all users.
uNADisplay user-oriented format.
xNAInclude processes with no controlling terminal.
eNADisplay the environment as well.
-eFNADisplay full format listing with extra full format.
--forestNADisplay ASCII art process hierarchy (tree view).

Example Usage

Listing All Processes

ps aux

The a option displays processes from all users, u provides user-centric output, and x displays processes without a controlling terminal. This combination reveals all currently running processes.

Displaying Process in a Tree Structure

ps --forest

The --forest option shows the process hierarchy in a tree structure, illustrating the parent-child relationships between processes.

Listing Specific User’s Processes

ps -u [username]

Replace [username] with the actual username for which you want to list the processes.

Displaying Processes with Full Format Listing

ps -eF

This command gives a detailed view of all processes in extra full format, providing extensive information about each process.

How to Use ps Command Effectively

By combining various options, you can tailor the ps command output to display specific information that suits your needs. For instance, if you want to view the processes of a specific user in a user-oriented format, you can combine the -u option with the user's name:

ps -u username

If you want to get more detailed information about the user's processes, you might use the f option, showing the hierarchical relationship between processes:

ps -fu username


The ps command in Linux is a versatile and powerful tool for monitoring pr ocesses. By learning and combining different options, you can get detailed insights into the process status, the user who owns them, resource usage, and much more. Whether you are a system administrator or an everyday user, understanding how to use the ps command effectively can help you manage and troubleshoot running processes with ease.

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