No matter how stable your Linux installation is, no matter how much you invest in security, reliability, updated software, and system monitoring, something is eventually going to go wrong. On a virtual private server or a dedicated server, responsibility to fix it usually falls on you. If this were your Windows desktop computer, a help desk tech might tell you to simply reboot, but on a server, you need other options.
If you see a spike in CPU usage, an usually high amount of RAM being consumed, or other such anomalies, you could have a runaway process. Simply put, it is a program that is no longer behaving and may even be unresponsive. Linux has a quick and dirty solution: kill. If you happen to know the exact process number, just type:
kill 8889, or whatever the process number is. If that does not help, add the “-9” flag to force it:
kill -9 8889
You can also quickly kill off all instances of a program with “killall”. For example, if a program called “gamebot” is no longer functioning or is frozen, you would enter:
Use “kill” sparingly, and be very careful with “killall”, but when the time to kill does arrive, you will know it and know what to do. For more information about “kill”, type “man kill” from the command line.
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