I am going through a tutorial on recovering from a database failure and in the tutorial, a failure on the host of the primary database is simulated with:

kill -9 <>

I know that the kill command is used to send a signal to a process, and that 9 represents the SIGKILL signal that terminates a process, but what does the <> argument stand for?

I have read the manual pages for the kill command but still cannot figure out why and what for <> is used.

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    Can you add the link to the tutorial? The first thing that comes to mind, is that the author of that post wants you to replace the <> characters with a specific process id. – Dan Feb 14 '18 at 9:56
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    It looks like the author of the site messed up with HTML strings. The source code has: kill&nbsp;-9 &lt;<pid for="" nbsp="" postmaster="" process="">&gt;</pid>, so they probably wrote kill -9 <pid> and some funny editor did all the magic to create a <pid> tag. – fedorqui Feb 14 '18 at 12:07
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    @fedorqui, <pid for="" nbsp="" postmaster="" process="">, that makes perfect sense! It's meant to say "pid for postmaster process" and it is the main PostgreSQL PID to kill. So the post was meant to say kill -9 <pid for postmaster process> Mystery solved. – dw8547 Feb 14 '18 at 13:30
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    Heads up: Don't make kill -9 a habit. Just use kill. SIGTERM lets the process shut down gracefully. SIGKILL (-9) is the nuclear option. – John Kugelman Feb 14 '18 at 15:22
  • @fedorqui: I'm pretty sure it was kill -9 <<pid>>. – Joshua Feb 14 '18 at 16:52

You're supposed to replace the <> by the process id. To get the process id, you can use the command

ps -aux

It will list all the processes, and you just have to choose the right process

If you have a single instance of a process, you can also use the pkill commmand with the name of the process, eg

pkill -9 mysql
| improve this answer | |
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    ... and if there are multiple instances, you can use killall. Also, if you want the PID, pgrep saves hunting through ps output – Zanna Feb 14 '18 at 10:06
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    @Zanna pkill actually kills all the processes that match, not just one. – Dan Feb 14 '18 at 10:10
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    keep in mind that pkill would kill any process containing the mysql word. For example, if you have a process called mysql and another mysql-python (just an example) both would be killed with that command. – Dan Feb 14 '18 at 10:11

It is

<pid> [...]
      Send signal to every <pid> listed.

in manpage. There is always description inside of the <> quotes.

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<> in the man page means replace <> with PID.

In addition to the answer by Felicien using the ps command, you can also use top or htop

top -d 10

Use -d <> (duration) to update every <> seconds.

To kill the process, simply note the PID and kill the process ID with:

kill -9 xxxx

Note: for htop, you will need to type htop -d 100 ie; 10 seconds.

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