How to kill or terminate unwanted tty/pts sessions in Linux?

Did you ever face this situation, a lot of terminal connections to your server?

Before starting, we have a brief discussion on TTY. The word tty stands for teletype terminals. Some years ago, user terminals were connected to computers’ electromechanical teleprinters or teletypewriters (TeleTYpewriter, TTY), since then the name TTY has continued to be used as the name for the text-only console. Here CryBit going to explain the command-line option to kill unwanted or unused or idle ttys.

We need the PID (Process ID) of that particular terminal (tty). First check the active connections server using the command “w.” Please see the sample output pasted below:

tty [~]# w
 02:05:41 up 234 days, 23:46,  3 users,  load average: 1.47, 1.89, 1.98
USER     TTY      FROM              LOGIN@   IDLE   JCPU   PCPU WHAT
root     pts/0    w3-oc.lolipop-i   23:51   53:49   0.04s  0.04s -bash
root     pts/2    w3-oc.lolipop-i   01:11    0.00s  0.01s  0.01s w
root     pts/3    w3-oc.lolipop-i   01:12   53:32   0.00s  0.00s -bash

Here, you can see three tty connections to your server, pts/0, pts/2 and pts/3 where PTS stands for pseudo terminal. You can also see which processes are currently executing for those tty connections. In this command we could not see the process ID (PID) of those ttys.

We can use the PS command to find out the process ID. Here is the sample output:

# ps -ft tty

Example [~]# ps -ft pts/0
UID          PID    PPID  C STIME TTY          TIME CMD
root      331857  331761  0 Oct09 pts/0    00:00:00 -bash

Here You will get the user info and process ID. Then use kill command to terminate that tty connection.

# kill 

For the above example

# kill 331857

If the process doesn’t gracefully terminate, just as a last option you can forcefully kill by sending a SIGKILL

# kill -9 

Another way; single command to kill tty connections

You can also use the PKILL command along with the switch “-t” to kill a tty connection forcefully. Please see the commend pasted below:

# pkill -9 -t 


# pkill -9 -t pts/0

How to check the current tty/pts session where you connected?

Yup, before going with the kill command, you must have an idea about your tty/pts session. This can be simply checked using the command ps or tty. See the usages pasted below:

Using ps

[root@connect ~]# ps
  PID TTY          TIME CMD
29849 pts/0    00:00:00 bash
29996 pts/0    00:00:00 ps

Using tty

[root@connect ~]# tty

tty is the best command!!

That’s it!! Go ahead and kill _/\_

Arunlal Ashok

Sr. Linux Server Administrator. I'm managing Linux servers since 2012. I started this blog to share and discuss my ideas. Check My Profile in uPwork (oDesk) and create a job, if you need any administration help. Thanks!!

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