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FORKSTAT(8) System Manager's Manual FORKSTAT(8)


forkstat - a tool to show process fork/exec/exit activity


forkstat [options]


Forkstat is a program that logs process fork(), exec(), exit(), coredump and process name change activity. It is useful for monitoring system behaviour and to track down rogue processes that are spawning off processes and potentially abusing the system.

Note that forkstat uses the Linux netlink connector to gather process activity and this may miss events if the system is overly busy. Netlink connector also requires root privilege.

Forkstat will display several columns of process related information:

Title Description
Time When the fork/exec/exit event occurred.
Event Type of event.
PID Process or thread ID.
Info Parent or child if a fork, or process exit(2) value.
Duration On exit, the duration the command ran for in seconds.
Process The process name. The name will be in [ ] brackets if it is a kernel thread.


forkstat options are as follow:

use the process 16 character comm field for the process name rather than command line information.
strip off the directory path from the process name.
specify duration in seconds to run forkstat.
specify events to trace as a comma separated list. By default the fork, exec and exit events are traced. Available events are:
Event Description
fork forks
exec execs
exit exits
core core dumps
comm process name changes in comm field
clone clone (normally on thread creation)
ptrce ptrace attach or detach
uid uid/gid events
sid sid events
all all the events above
enable all events, equivalent to -e all
show glyph annotations of events, useful for easier identification of different events.
show brief help summary.
set stdout to line-buffered mode.
only show processes that match the process group id pgrpid
run with real time FIFO scheduling with maximum priority to keep up with high volumes of process events.
show short process name information.
show event statistics.
run quietly and enable the -S option.
show extra process related information: user ID and TTY of the process.
equivalent to options -E -g -r -S -x, all events, glyphs, real time FIFO scheduling, statistics and extra process information.


Show process activity with short process names and directory base path stripped off:

forkstat -s -d

Trace forks and core dumps only:

forkstat -e fork,core

Trace all events and print statistics at end:

forkstat -e all -S

Trace all events for 10 minutes:

forkstat -E -D 600

Trace clones for 1 minute:

forkstat -e clone -D 60




forkstat was written by Colin Ian King <>. Thanks also for contributions from Philipp Gesang.

This manual page was written by Colin Ian King <>, for the Ubuntu project (but may be used by others).


Copyright © 2014-2021 Canonical Ltd, Copyright © 2021-2023 Colin Ian King.
This is free software; see the source for copying conditions. There is NO warranty; not even for MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

8 February 2023