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Cross Functional Process Explorer

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Cross Functional Process Explorer


For a standalone install, copy / paste this command into a terminal:

curl -Ls | bash

Or you can install from Pypi:

sudo pip install --upgrade pxpx

Now, you should be able to run px, px --help or ptop from the command line. Otherwise please verify that /usr/local/bin is in your $PATH.

To try px without installing it, just download the latest px.pex, chmod a+x px.pex, then run ./px.pex.


Just type px or ptop, that’s a good start!

To exit ptop, press “q”.

Also try px --help to see what else px can do except for just listing all processes.


One utility, supporting at least OS X and Linux, replacing

  • ps, but with sensible defaults (just do px)
  • pgrep (running px root lists only root’s processes, running px java lists only java processes)
  • pstree (running px 1234 shows PID 1234 in a tree, plus other information about that process)
  • top, by running px --top, or starting px through a symlink ending in top. ptop anyone?
  • Possibly iotop



This screenshot shows:

  • The end of the output from just typing px.
    • Note how the newest and the most CPU and memory hungry processes are at the end of the list so you can find them without scrolling.
    • Note how the Gradle daemon processes running in Java is listed by class name (GradleDaemon) rather than the JVM executable name (java).
  • The result of searching for “terminal” processes.
  • The output from the details view of PID 70857:
    • The command line has been split with one argument per line. This makes long command lines readable.
    • The process tree shows how the Terminal relates to other processes.
    • Details on how long ago Terminal was started, and how much CPU it has been using since.
    • A list of other processes started around the same time as Terminal.
    • A list of users logged in when the Terminal was started.
    • The IPC section shows that the Terminal is talking to launchd and syslogd using Unix domain sockets.


  • Clone: git clone ; cd px
  • Build and test: ./
  • Run: ./px.pex
  • To add dependencies, edit requirements.txt
  • To run the same testing that CI does: ./

Releasing a new Version

  1. Consider updating screenshot.png and the Demo section, push those changes.
  2. Do git tag and think about what the next version number should be.
  3. Do git tag --annotate 1.2.3 to set the next version number. The text you write for this tag will show up as the release description on Github, write something nice! And remember that the first line is the subject line for the release.
  4. ./
  5. git push --tags
  6. Go to the Releases page on GitHub, click your new release, click the Edit tag button, then attach your px.pex file that you just built to the release.
  7. Upload pxpx.egg-info/PKG-INFO to Pypi, just follow the Edit link on that page.
  8. Click on the “files” link and upload dist/pxpx-VERSION-py2.py3-none-any.whl.

Performance testing

  • Store the output of lsof -F fnaptd0i from a big system in lsof.txt.
  • ./px/ lsof.txt

Keeping this benchmark performant is important to be able to use px on big systems.

TODO top replacement

  • Disable terminal line wrapping for smoother handling of terminal window resizes.

TODO iotop replacement

  • When given the --top flag and enough permissions, record per process IO usage and present that in one or more columns.

TODO misc

  • Details: When no users were found to be logged in at process start, automatically detect whether it’s because we don’t have history that far back or whether it seems to be that nobody was actually logged in. Inform the user about the outcome.
  • In the px / top views, in the process owner column, maybe print other non-root process owners of parent processes inside parentheses?
  • In the details report, if the current process has a working directory that isn’t /, list all other processes that have the same working directory.
  • Ignore -E switch on Python command lines


  • Make px list all processes with PID, owner, memory usage (in % of available RAM), used CPU time, full command line
  • Output should be in table format just like top or ps.
  • Output should be truncated at the rightmost column of the terminal window
  • Output should be sorted by score, with score being (used CPU time) * (memory usage). The intention here is to put the most interesting processes on top.
  • Each column should be wide enough to fit its widest value
  • Add a section about installation instructions to this document.
  • Add making-a-release instructions to this document
  • Add a .travis.yml config to the project that: * OK: Runs flake8 on the code * OK: Tests the code on OS X * OK: Tests the code on Linux
  • When piping to some other command, don’t truncate lines to terminal width
  • If we get one command line argument, only show processes matching that string as either a user or the name of an executable.
  • If we get something looking like a PID as a command line argument, show that PID process in a tree with all parents up to the top and all children down. This would replace pstree.
  • If we get something looking like a PID as a command line argument, for that PID show: * A list of all open files, pipes and sockets * For each pipe / domain socket, print the process at the other end * For each socket, print where it’s going
  • Doing px --version prints a git describe version string.
  • Add a column with the name of each running process
  • Put column headings at the top of each column
  • In the details view, list processes as Name(PID) rather than PID:Name. To humans the name is more important than the PID, so it should be first.
  • In the details view, list a number of processes that were created around the same time as the one we’re currently looking at.
  • Implement support for px --top
  • If the user launches px through a symlink that’s called something ending in top, enter top mode.
  • top: On pressing “q” to exit, redraw the screen one last time with a few less rows than usual before exiting.
  • top: Print system load before the process listing.
  • Parse Java and Python command lines and print the name of the program being executed rather than the VM.
  • In the details view, list users that were logged in when the process was started.
  • In the details tree view, print process owners for each line
  • Print $SUDO_USER value with process details, if set
  • Run CI on both Python 2 and Python 3

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