ps—Report process status

ps [–][lujsvmaxScewhrnu][txx][O[+|-]k1[[+|-]k2…]] [pids]

There are also two long options:
More long options are on the way…

ps gives a snapshot of the current processes. If you want a repetitive update of this status, use top. This man page documents the /proc-based version of ps, or tries to.

Command-line arguments may optionally be preceded by a –, but there is no need for it. There are also some long options in GNU style; see the following subsection for those.

Options Description
l Long format.
u User format: gives username and start time.
j Jobs format: pgid sid.
s Signal format.
v vm format.
m Displays memory information (combine with p flag to get number of pages).
f Forest family tree format for command line.
a Show processes of other users too.
x Show processes without controlling terminal.
S Add child cpu time and page faults.
c Command name from task struct.
e Show environment after command line and +.
w Wide output: don’t truncate command lines to fit on one line.
h No header.
r Running procs only.
n Numeric output for USER and WCHAN.
txx Only procs with controlling tty xx; use for xx the same letters as shown in the TT field. The tty name must be given immediately after the option, with no intervening space, for example, ps -tv1.
O[+|-]k1[,[+|-]k2[,…]] Order the process listing according to the multilevel sort specified by the sequence of short keys from SORT KEYS, k1, k2, …. Default order specifications exist for each of the various formats of ps. These are overridden by a user-specified ordering. The + is quite optional, merely reiterating the default direction on a key. – reverses direction only on the key it precedes. As with t and pids, the O option must be the last option in a single command argument, but specifications in successive arguments are catenated.
pids List only the specified processes; they are comma-delimited. The list must be given immediately after the last option in a single command-line argument, with no intervening space, for example, ps -j1,4,5. Lists specified in subsequent arguments are catenated, for example, ps -l1,23,4 5 6 will list all of the processes 1-6 in long format.

Note that the values used in sorting are the internal values ps uses and not the “cooked” values used in some of the output format fields. If someone wants to volunteer to write special comparison functions for the cooked values,…;-)

Options Long Description
c cmd Simple name of executable
C cmdline Full command line
f flags Flags as in long format F field
g pgrp Process group ID
G tpgid Controlling tty process group ID
j cutime Cumulative user time
J cstime Cumulative system time
k utime User time
K stime System time
m min_flt Number of minor page faults
M maj_flt Number of major page faults
n cmin_flt Cumulative minor page faults
N cmaj_flt Cumulative major page faults
o session Session ID
p pid Process ID
P ppid Parent process ID
r rss Resident set size
R resident Resident pages
s size Memory size in kilobytes
S share Amount of shared pages
t tty The minor device number of tty
T start_time Time process was started
U uid User ID number
u user Username
v vsize Total VM size in bytes
y priority Kernel scheduling priority


Field Description
PRI This is the counter field in the task struct. It is the time in HZ of the process’s possible time slice.
NI Standard UNIX nice value; a positive value means less cpu time.
SIZE Virtual image size; size of text+data+stack.
RSS Resident set size; kilobytes of program in memory.
WCHAN Name of the kernel function where the process is sleeping, with the sys stripped from the function name. If /boot/psdatabase does not exist, it is just a hex number instead.
STAT Information about the status of the process. The first field is R for runnable, S for sleeping, D for uninterruptible sleep, T for stopped or traced, or Z for a zombie process. The second field contains W if the process has no resident pages. The third field is N if the process has a positive nice value (NI field).
TT Controlling tty.
PAGEIN Number of major page faults (page faults that cause pages to be read from disk, including pages read from the buffer cache).
TRS Text resident size.
SWAP Kilobytes (or pages if –p is used) on swap device.
SHARE Shared memory.

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