Linux 101: What are zombie processes?

Zombie processes shouldn’t be a problem on your system. But on the off chance they do arise, you need to know how to take care of them. Jack Wallen shows you how.

Illustration: Lisa Hornung/TechRepublic

When you think of zombies, your mind probably travels a rather Romero-ian path. Shambling ghouls who want nothing more than to crack open your skull and dine on your thought-meat.

But within the realm of Linux, zombies are a different creature altogether. Sort of. 

SEE: 5 Linux server distributions you should be using (TechRepublic Premium)

On the Linux platform, a zombie is a remaining bit of a dead process that wasn’t or hasn’t been properly cleaned up. A zombie is created by programs that crash or weren’t adequately coded to handle the cleanup of a crash or exit. 

Technically speaking, when a process dies, the…

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