The following command signs me out (do not run this command):

kill -9 -1

I don't understand why.

Can someone explain this to me?


3 Answers 3


The syntax is kill SIGNAL PID.

The -9 option specifies that the SIGKILL signal should be sent (immediately terminate the target process(es), and specifying the PID -1 is shorthand for "all processes except itself and init".

Since you don't use sudo (and presumably don't have root permissions), this immediately kills all processes you have permission to kill - your entire session, hence logging you out.

  • 9
    And note, if you run this command with sudo like sudo kill -9 -1 then the computer will restart
    – Anwar
    Sep 13, 2012 at 14:02
  • Will it really restart? It seems like it would just crash.
    – user606723
    Sep 13, 2012 at 18:14
  • @user606723 the init process will not exit, and can decide what (if anything) to do about all the other processes having exited.
    – Random832
    Sep 13, 2012 at 19:09
  • 3
    @Anwar it will not necessarily restart, it will drop you to running just init, which may or may not then spawn a shell or bring back up other services. Sep 13, 2012 at 21:10


man kill

to get an explanation of the kill command..

it says:

A PID of -1 is special; it indicates all processes except the kill process itself and init.



kill -9 -1

 Kill all processes you can kill.

I hope you understand why your computer will log you out, when you end all processes. You quitted everything.

Hope this helps.

  • 18
    +1 for pointing to man. "Teach a fish how to man and you feed him for a lifetime." (Pun intended :-))
    – m000
    Sep 13, 2012 at 16:31

You are giving -1 as the process id: from the kill man-page:

 A  PID of -1 is special; it indicates all processes except the
 kill process itself and init.

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