In my Ubuntu launcher I have two icons with question marks on them. When I hover my mouse over them they read "Already Executing". What is this and can I remove them? I am an extremely zero-experienced Linux user and would appreciate an answer even I could understand. -Thank you :)

  • Welcome to AskUbuntu! You can read my answer first and tell me if you don't understand something. Mar 3 '13 at 14:24
  • 1
    Note: before trying to do what the answers say, you could right-click on the icons and click "Quit". :) Mar 3 '13 at 14:40

Every program, when runs, is a process. Processes are an important
part of any OS. Each process has its own, unique ID, which is a number.
You can send signals to a process to kill it. This is explained below.

Managing processes, beginner's manual

First open a Terminal (press Ctrl+Alt+T).
A terminal allows you to run commands on your computer,
and see what they output.

Once the terminal is open, type:

pidof firefox

Press ENTER to issue the command, and if you had Firefox open,
it will output something like that:


Which means “a process named ‘firefox’ is running and his ID is 14497”.
Now, to kill that process:

kill <PID>

Replace PID with the process ID (in this case 14497) of the process
you want to kill. Press ENTER and Firefox will close.

Now, if you run pidof firefox again, it shouldn't output anything,
because there's no longer a Firefox process running.

All at once

Since running pidof and then killing is tedious, you can simply run:

killall firefox pidgin

And it'll kill all the processes that are named firefox or pidgin.
If no processes are found, it'll tell you:

firefox: no process found
pidgin: no process found
  • Thanks for the reply and I think I understand what you're getting at. My problem though is that I don't know what these processes are called or what they do :S They simply appear in my launcher with no description other than "Already Executing". Any tips as to how I can identify what they are so I can find their PID?
    – Sebastian
    Mar 4 '13 at 11:18
  • Have you tried my second comment (right-clicking on the icons)? Mar 4 '13 at 18:01

ps -e on your terminal

and identifiy those processes.


kill <number>

number is the number infront of the process that you want to kill.

But if you don't know what are those processes. It's better to not to kill them.


you can use top and htop. top is installed with Ubuntu. you can find the process you want and you can kill it if you want but you must be root user.

sudo kill <PID>

htop can give more better look with top but you need to installed it with

sudo apt-get install htop
  • Wrong. You mustn't be root to kill something: you can kill your own processes without having to become root. What you should say is that, being the root user, you can kill any process. Mar 10 '13 at 9:53

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