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How to check the running processes of a user from the command line?
How to check the running processes of a user from the command line?
Rapyd Team avatar
Written by Rapyd Team
Updated over a week ago

In Linux and Unix-like operating systems, having the capability to view running processes tied to a specific user can be invaluable for system administration and monitoring tasks. This article delves into the command-line tools available for listing the processes owned by a particular user.

Introduction to Processes in Linux

Every task running on a Linux system, be it a background task like a service or a foreground task like a user-initiated command, is represented as a process. Each process is associated with a specific user and possesses attributes such as a unique Process ID (PID), Parent Process ID (PPID), and more.

Using the ps Command to View Processes

The ps command is the default tool for viewing processes in Linux. To view processes owned by a specific user, use the following command:

ps -u username

Replace username with the actual name of the user whose processes you wish to view. This will display a simplified list of processes owned by the user.

For a more elaborate output, you can use:

ps -fU username

Using the pgrep and pstree Commands

pgrep: The pgrep command allows you to search for processes based on various criteria, including ownership. To display the Process IDs (PIDs) of all processes owned by a user:

pgrep -u username

pstree: If you're interested in seeing the processes in a tree-like format, which shows their hierarchical relationships, you can use pstree. To visualize processes tied to a specific user:

pstree -u username

Practical Tips

  • For a constantly updating view of processes, use the top command. After launching it, press 'u' followed by the username and hit Enter.

  • Exercise caution when terminating processes, especially if you are not familiar with what they do. Ending crucial system processes can result in system instability.

  • If you're uncertain about the purpose of a process, it is prudent to look up its name or the command to understand its role.


The Linux command line offers robust tools for both monitoring and managing processes. By mastering commands such as ps, pgrep, and pstree, system administrators and users alike can effectively oversee the processes running on their systems and take the necessary steps when required.

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