Killing a process tree, killing a PID and all children

Here are a couple of useful functions I wrote to kill a process tree. It’s useful when dealing with tcpserver, which refuses to disconnect a client for as long as a process it started, or a child of that process, still runs. It’s also good for tackling runaway unintentional fork bombs, rogue daemons and other mishaps.

The following script provides two functions:


sends SIGSTOP to a process, kills all its children recursively, kills the process, sends SIGCONT and waits for it, to avoid “Terminated:” messages


kills all children of the current script without killing the script itself



function sf_killtree
    local ppid=$1 sig=${2:-"TERM"}
    if ! kill -0 "$ppid"; then
        builtin echo "killtree: ($ppid) - No such process" >&2
        return 1
    (( ppid == $$ )) || kill -STOP "$ppid" 2>/dev/null || :
    local pids=( $({ pgrep -P $ppid || ps -o pid= --ppid $ppid || :; } 2>/dev/null ) )
    if [[ -n "${pids[@]:-}" ]]; then
        for pid in "${pids[@]}"; do
            sf_killtree "$pid" "$sig" 2>/dev/null || :
    kill "-${sig}" "$ppid" 2>/dev/null || :
    (( ppid == $$ )) || kill -CONT "$ppid" 2>/dev/null || :
    wait "$ppid" 2>/dev/null || :

function sf_killchildren
    local _term=$(builtin trap -p TERM)
    builtin trap : TERM
    sf_killtree $$ TERM;
    builtin trap - TERM
    builtin eval "$_term"


Please also note the following from the KILL (2) man page:
“If pid equals 0, then sig is sent to every process in the process group of the calling process.”
While this does kill the script itself, unlike sf_killchildren, it can be a useful thing to end a script with, or to put in an EXIT trap.

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