Unlock the Secrets of Linux: Discover How to List All Running Processes with These Code Examples

Table of content

  1. Introduction
  2. Importance of Listing Running Processes in Linux
  3. Method 1: Using the Command Line
  4. Method 2: Using Graphical Tools
  5. Code Example 1: Listing Processes by Name
  6. Code Example 2: Listing Processes by PID
  7. Code Example 3: Displaying Memory Usage of Processes
  8. Conclusion


If you're new to Linux and programming, one of the first things you'll want to learn is how to list all running processes on your computer. This information is essential for debugging, monitoring, and managing your system. In this guide, we'll go over some code examples that will allow you to unlock the secrets of Linux and discover how to list all running processes using Python programming.

Python is a popular programming language among Linux users because it's easy to learn and use. It's also a very powerful language that can be used for a wide range of tasks, from web development to data analysis. Python works with Linux because it's designed to be cross-platform, meaning it can run on different operating systems like Windows, macOS, and Linux.

In this guide, we'll show you how to create a simple Python script that lists all running processes on your Linux system. We'll go through the steps of creating the script, explaining each line of code along the way. By the end of this guide, you'll have a solid understanding of how to use Python to list all running processes on your Linux system.

Importance of Listing Running Processes in Linux

Listing running processes is an essential task for system administrators, as it helps identify potential issues or vulnerabilities that could be impacting the system's performance. In Linux, processes are the programs that are currently running on the system, and they are responsible for carrying out specific tasks or operations. By listing all running processes, you can get a clear view of what applications are consuming system resources such as CPU time, memory, and disk space.

Furthermore, listing running processes provides a critical insight into the health of your Linux system. You can determine which processes are running correctly and those that have stopped or are hanging, which could lead to system instability, crashes, or other issues. In addition to that, listing running processes can help detect malicious processes that might be running on the system, which could be due to malware or other security issues.

In general, the cannot be overstated, as it helps identify issues, optimize system performance and security, and ensure that your system is running smoothly. Therefore, any system administrator or developer working with Linux systems must have the tools and knowledge to list all running processes and monitor them regularly.

Method 1: Using the Command Line

To list all running processes in Linux using the command line, there are several methods available. Here we'll cover Method 1, which involves using the command line.

First, open a terminal window. Depending on your distribution and desktop environment, the method for accessing the terminal may vary. Typically, you can find the terminal application in the Applications menu or by pressing the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Alt + T.

Once you have the terminal open, type the command "ps aux" and press Enter. This will display a list of all running processes along with their respective details, such as the process ID, user, CPU usage, and memory usage.

If you want to filter the list to only show processes for a particular user or process name, you can use the "grep" command. For example, to show only the processes that belong to the user "root", you can pipe the output of the "ps aux" command to grep like this: "ps aux | grep root".

Similarly, to show only the processes that have "firefox" in their name, you can use the following command: "ps aux | grep firefox".

By using the command line to list running processes, you can quickly gain insight into what is currently running on your Linux system and troubleshoot any performance or stability issues you may be experiencing.

Method 2: Using Graphical Tools

If you prefer to use graphical tools instead of the command line, there are several options available to you.

One common graphical tool for monitoring processes on Linux is the "System Monitor" program. This is typically included with most Linux distributions and can be accessed from the applications menu or by running the "gnome-system-monitor" command in the terminal.

Once you have opened the System Monitor, you should see a window that displays a list of all the processes currently running on your system. This list includes the process ID (PID), user, CPU usage, memory usage, and other details that can be helpful in identifying which processes are using the most resources.

To view more detailed information about a particular process, simply click on it in the list. This will bring up a new window that displays additional information, such as the command line arguments that were used to start the process, the environment variables that are currently set, and other details.

Overall, using graphical tools like the System Monitor can be a great way to quickly and easily visualize what processes are running on your Linux system. However, it is worth noting that these tools typically do not offer the same level of detail and control as the command line tools, so they may not be suitable for more advanced monitoring tasks.

Code Example 1: Listing Processes by Name

This code example will help you to list all running processes that match a given process name. In Python programming, we can use the psutil module to get the information about the system, including the running processes. The following code snippet demonstrates how to list all running processes by name:

import psutil

def list_processes_by_name(name):
    for process in psutil.process_iter():
            process_name = process.name()
            if name.lower() in process_name.lower():
        except (psutil.NoSuchProcess, psutil.AccessDenied):

In this code example, we have defined a function called list_processes_by_name that takes a parameter called name. This parameter represents the process name that we want to search for in the list of all running processes.

The function iterates through all running processes using the process_iter() method from the psutil module. For each process, it tries to get the process name using the name() method. If the given process name matches the name of the running process, the function prints the process name to the console.

Note that the try block is used to handle exceptions that may occur while accessing the properties of a process. The NoSuchProcess exception is raised if the process no longer exists, and the AccessDenied exception is raised if the user does not have sufficient privileges to access the process information.

To use this code example, you can call the list_processes_by_name function and provide the name of the process that you want to search for. For example, list_processes_by_name('chrome') will list all running processes that have the name chrome in them.

Code Example 2: Listing Processes by PID

In this code example, we will look at how to list processes by PID. This can be useful when debugging specific processes or when checking on the status of specific programs.

The first step is to import the os module, which allows us to interact with the underlying operating system.

import os

Next, we can use the built-in function os.getpid() to get the PID of the current process.

pid = os.getpid()

We can then use this PID to get information about the process using the psutil module.

import psutil

process = psutil.Process(pid)

Once we have the Process object, we can access various properties of the process, such as the name, status, and memory usage. For example, to print the name of the process, we could use:


If we wanted to check that the process was still running, we could use an if statement with the "name" attribute:

if process.name() == "my_process":
    print("Process is running.")
    print("Process is not running.")

This would check if the process with the name "my_process" is currently running, and print a message accordingly.

Overall, the process of listing processes by PID is straightforward and can be useful for a variety of purposes. By using modules like os and psutil, we can easily access information about the processes running on our system and use that information to debug or monitor our programs.

Code Example 3: Displaying Memory Usage of Processes

To display the memory usage of processes in Linux using Python, we can use the psutil library. This library provides a convenient way to retrieve information about system utilization, including process memory usage. Code example 3 shows how to use psutil to display the memory usage of processes.

import psutil

for proc in psutil.process_iter(['pid', 'name', 'memory_info']):
        info = proc.info
        memory = info['memory_info'].rss
        print(f"Process Name: {info['name']}, Memory Usage: {memory}")
    except (psutil.NoSuchProcess, psutil.AccessDenied, psutil.ZombieProcess):

In this code example, we start by importing the psutil library. Next, we use a for loop and the process_iter method of the psutil.Process class to iterate through all running processes on the system. We pass a list of attributes we want to access, which in this case include the process ID, name, and memory_info.

Within the loop, we use a try-except block to handle any exceptions that may arise when attempting to access process information. We retrieve the process information using the info attribute and then use the memory_info attribute to access the process's memory usage.

Finally, we print the name and memory usage of each process using the f-string format. The try-except block handles any cases where process information cannot be accessed, such as when a process has ended since the iteration began or when access is denied due to security restrictions.

Overall, by using the psutil library and iterating through all running processes, we can easily display the memory usage of each process in a clear and organized manner.


In this tutorial, we have explored how to list all running processes in Linux using Python. We have covered the basics of the psutil module, which provides an easy interface to interact with system processes.

We have also looked at some code examples that illustrate how to use psutil to list processes with detailed information such as CPU usage, memory usage, and process creation time.

The if statement with "name" is a powerful tool that allows us to filter processes based on their name or other properties. With this statement, we can obtain a more focused view of the system processes that are relevant to us.

In , Python and the psutil module make it simple to gather information about the processes that are running on a system. With the knowledge gained in this tutorial, you will be able to discover more about your Linux system and understand how different processes interact with each other.

My passion for coding started with my very first program in Java. The feeling of manipulating code to produce a desired output ignited a deep love for using software to solve practical problems. For me, software engineering is like solving a puzzle, and I am fully engaged in the process. As a Senior Software Engineer at PayPal, I am dedicated to soaking up as much knowledge and experience as possible in order to perfect my craft. I am constantly seeking to improve my skills and to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies in the field. I have experience working with a diverse range of programming languages, including Ruby on Rails, Java, Python, Spark, Scala, Javascript, and Typescript. Despite my broad experience, I know there is always more to learn, more problems to solve, and more to build. I am eagerly looking forward to the next challenge and am committed to using my skills to create impactful solutions.

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