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pnuke - Man Page

parallel process kill program


pnuke [-vA] [-h hosts_file] [-H [user@]host[:port]] [-l user] [-p par] [-o outdir] [-e errdir] [-t timeout] [-O options] [-x args] [-X arg] pattern


pnuke is a program for killing processes in parallel on a number of hosts.  It provides features such as passing a password to ssh, saving output to files, and timing out.


-h host_file
--hosts host_file

Read hosts from the given host_file. Lines in the host file are of the form [user@]host[:port] and can include blank lines and comments (lines beginning with "#"). If multiple host files are given (the -h option is used more than once), then pnuke behaves as though these files were concatenated together. If a host is specified multiple times, then pnuke will connect the given number of times.






"[user@]host[:port] [ [user@]host[:port ] ... ]"


"[user@]host[:port] [ [user@]host[:port ] ... ]"

Add the given host strings to the list of hosts.  This option may be given multiple times, and may be used in conjunction with the -h option.

-l user
--user user

Use the given username as the default for any host entries that don't specifically specify a user.

-p parallelism
--par parallelism

Use the given number as the maximum number of concurrent connections.

-t timeout
--timeout timeout

Make connections time out after the given number of seconds.  With a value of 0, pnuke will not timeout any connections.

-o outdir
--outdir outdir

Save standard output to files in the given directory.  Filenames are of the form [user@]host[:port][.num] where the user and port are only included for hosts that explicitly specify them.  The number is a counter that is incremented each time for hosts that are specified more than once.

-e errdir
--errdir errdir

Save standard error to files in the given directory.  Filenames are of the same form as with the -o option.

-x args
--extra-args args

Passes extra SSH command-line arguments (see the ssh(1) man page for more information about SSH arguments). This option may be specified multiple times. The arguments are processed to split on whitespace, protect text within quotes, and escape with backslashes. To pass arguments without such processing, use the -X option instead.

-X arg
--extra-arg arg

Passes a single SSH command-line argument (see the ssh(1) man page for more information about SSH arguments).  Unlike the -x option, no processing is performed on the argument, including word splitting. To pass multiple command-line arguments, use the option once for each argument.

-O options
--options options

SSH options in the format used in the SSH configuration file (see the ssh_config(5) man page for more information).  This option may be specified multiple times.


Prompt for a password and pass it to ssh.  The password may be used for either to unlock a key or for password authentication. The password is transferred in a fairly secure manner (e.g., it will not show up in argument lists).  However, be aware that a root user on your system could potentially intercept the password.


Include error messages from ssh with the -i and -e options.


The ssh_config file can include an arbitrary number of Host sections.  Each host entry specifies ssh options which apply only to the given host.  Host definitions can even behave like aliases if the HostName option is included. This ssh feature, in combination with pssh host files, provides a tremendous amount of flexibility.

Internally uses the pkill command and sends signal 9 (the unblockable KILL signal).

Exit Status

The exit status codes from pnuke are as follows:




Miscellaneous error


Syntax or usage error


At least one process was killed by a signal or timed out.


All processes completed, but at least one ssh process reported an error (exit status 255).


There were no ssh errors, but at least one remote command had a non-zero exit status.


Written by Brent N. Chun <bnc@theether.org> and Andrew McNabb <amcnabb@mcnabbs.org>.


See Also

ssh(1), ssh_config(5), pssh(1), pscp(1), prsync(1), pslurp(1),

Referenced By

prsync(1), pscp.pssh(1), pslurp(1), pssh(1).

January 24, 2012