Is there a way (perhaps a script) how to automate this process:

petr@sova:~$ ps -ef | grep middleman
petr     18445  2312  1 12:06 pts/2    00:00:01 /home/petr/.rvm/gems/ruby-1.9.3-p362/bin/middleman                                                                  
petr     18581 13621  0 12:08 pts/0    00:00:00 grep --color=auto middleman
petr@sova:~$ kill -9 18445

Unfortunately, pkill is too weak as I have to go with -9 option on kill.

  • 3
    You can use -9 with pkill too...
    – OrangeDog
    Jan 11, 2013 at 17:28
  • 6
    In my opinion, it's more elegant and proper to use -KILL than -9. What number corresponds to what signal is implementation-dependent. SIGKILL happens to be 9 on Linux i386 and Linux amd64, but not necessarily everywhere. (More info here.) Jan 11, 2013 at 23:36
  • 6
    @EliahKagan: while I like to use -KILL too (because it makes code more readable), it should be noted that SIGKILL = 9 is specified by POSIX, so -9 is pretty portable nowadays (and does not depend on kernels or architectures). Jan 17, 2013 at 18:51

6 Answers 6


There is an even simpler solution than the one of qbi: killall let's you kill processes by name, and you can specify signals.

killall -9 middleman

See man killall for more information and extra options (there are quite a few).

As the name suggests, this does send the signal to all processes named middleman. But that's not different from other ways (like pkill). Furthermore, pkill -9 middleman will target processes whose name match but do not equal middleman, such as middleman2, as well.


You can use your shell to do this task for you:

kill -9 $(pidof middleman)

The shell executes the command pidof middleman first. The output of pidof(8) is the process id. So the shell substitutes the pidof-command with the process id and executes kill -9 18845 (or whatever the correct process id is).

  • What's the difference between this and kill -9 $(pgrep middleman)? Nov 15, 2016 at 10:05

The other answers are entirely correct, but I might as well add a third option so all are documented here. You can also use:

pkill -9 middleman

See man pkill for more information and extra options.

It doesn't really matter which of these methods you use. They will all work. But knowing the options if useful if you want to modify the behaviour in some way, since the corresponding man pages show what other matching options are available.

  • Strange, doesn't work here. Nor does middleman*
    – mreq
    Jan 11, 2013 at 20:47
  • 1
    Ah. Looking more closely, it seems likely that you're wanting to kill a ruby interpreter, rather than a process really called middleman. This is where the differences in how exactly pkill, killall, pidof and grep match processes really start to matter! Jan 11, 2013 at 20:50

Just for fun, I'd like to add a more manual, old school way

kill -9 `ps aux | grep middleman | awk '{print $2}'`
  • 1
    I did that at work a few years ago and the admin gave me a look that said "okay, grandad". Can also add a grep -v grep before the awk to make sure it doesn't kill the grep command too. Jan 12, 2013 at 8:16
  • @gerhard, thanks for the edit, couldn't find the back ticks on my iPad. grep -v is a good idea...
    – slipset
    Jan 12, 2013 at 8:23
  • The real old school way would be to write ... grep [m]iddleman ... to avoid killing the grep process by accident. That way the grep cannot match itself because of funny quoting. Jan 13, 2016 at 13:13
pkill -9 -f middleman

The -f option makes it match the complete command line, rather than only the process name.

Note that -9 should be a last resort signal, not something to use routinely.

  • 1
    thanks! I really like the ability to match the complete command line
    – cwd
    Aug 20, 2014 at 2:19
  • complete command line is really cool!
    – petertc
    Dec 25, 2015 at 2:43
killall -9 -ir regex_pattern

which is interactive(safe) and matches the partial command name.

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