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Resolved before asked: cat /proc/1111/status | grep PPid

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I've always found typing out my question on stackoverflow/superuser/serverfault helps me realize the solution without help. I guess it's an extension of Rubber Ducking – Puddingfox Jun 8 '10 at 14:09
@Puddingfox I was recommended to keep adding information (if not duplicate) even if I found out answer myself. – Vi. Jun 9 '10 at 13:09
faster: grep PPid status |cut -f2 like in time(for((i=0;i<1000;i++));do grep PPid status |cut -f2 >/dev/null;done); wonder if there is something even faster? – Aquarius Power Aug 9 '14 at 23:55
@AquariusPower Since you ask, fgrep is faster than grep. fgrep PPid status |cut -f2 – jbo5112 Feb 18 at 22:46
up vote 50 down vote accepted

Command line:

ps -o ppid= -p 1111


ppid () { ps -p ${1:-$$} -o ppid=; }

Alias (a function is preferable):

alias ppid='ps -o ppid= -p'


if [ -z $pid ]
    read -p "PID: " pid
ps -p ${pid:-$$} -o ppid=

If no PID is supplied to the function or the script, they default to show the PPID of the current process.

To use the alias, a PID must be supplied.

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The = sign is not necessary, at least on OS X 10.8.2. – jtbandes Jan 9 '13 at 19:04
@jtbandes: The equal sign as used here suppresses the output of the header line (Linux and OS X). – Dennis Williamson Jan 9 '13 at 21:08
Aha, so it does! Thanks! – jtbandes Jan 9 '13 at 21:13

This is one of those things I learn, forget, relearn, repeat. But it's useful. The pstree command's ‘s’ flag shows a tree with a leaf at N:

pstree -sA $(pgrep badblocks)
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Parent pid is in shell variable PPID, so

echo $PPID
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Yes, but 1. I want parent pid of other process, 2. I want to be able to traverse all ancestors to init. – Vi. Sep 24 '12 at 12:37
On the other hand, using $PPID did just solve the problem I had which Google suggested this page as an answer to. – Paul Whittaker Sep 24 '12 at 15:58

Read /proc/$PID/status. Can be easily scripted:

if [ -z "$P" ]; then
    read P
cat /proc/"$P"/status | grep PPid: | grep -o "[0-9]*"
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grep '^PPid:' /proc/$1/status | grep -o '[0-9]*' is all you need. (It is very uncommon for Unix tools to do the if [ -z ]; then read thing.) – grawity Jun 8 '10 at 11:12
@grawity It helps do do things like echo $$ | ppid | ppid | ppid – Vi. Jun 9 '10 at 13:04
UUOC useless use of cat – Felipe Alvarez Nov 25 '14 at 0:26
@FelipeAlvarez, My hands are not used to type < /some/file grep | grep | .... – Vi. Nov 25 '14 at 0:29
What about grep /some/file – Felipe Alvarez Nov 25 '14 at 0:35

On Linux:

ps hoppid $thatprocess
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$ ps -p $(ps -p $(echo $$) -o ppid=) -o comm=

A little bit more complex example that checks the command of a parent that started current process Change comm= to cmd= to see full command

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This command:

ps j

will print parent ids (PPID) of all the processes.

For the single process, just pass the PID, like: ps j 1234.

To extract only the value, filter output by awk, like:

ps j 1234 | awk 'NR>1 {print $3}' # BSD ps
ps j 1234 | awk 'NR>1 {print $1}' # GNU ps

To list PIDs of all parents, then use pstree, like:

$ pstree -sg 1234

To get parent PID of the current process, then use echo $$.

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Here is a quick solution that should also work:

ps $$
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That doesn't give the parent PID which is what the OP asked for. – Dennis Williamson Sep 24 '13 at 19:35

Run top with whatever options you want, like -u username and -p PID.

And while top is working press f, it shows a list of options you want to display in top output, and the displayed parameters will be shown in CAPITAL letters and the parameters which or not displaying will be shown in small letters.

So by entering the letter before the parameter you can enable or disable it. For parent process ID you have to enter b and then press Enter, it'll display the PPID in top output.

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It is to be used non-interactively. I already know that in htop you can configure PPID column. – Vi. Nov 23 '12 at 13:49

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