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As the question implies, what is a zombie task/process in top?

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Zombies - what are they? – sds Jun 22 '14 at 21:22
up vote 6 down vote accepted

On Unix and Unix-like computer operating systems, a zombie process or defunct process is a process that has completed execution but still has an entry in the process table. This entry is still needed to allow the process that started the (now zombie) process to read its exit status. The term zombie process derives from the common definition of zombie—an undead person. In the term's metaphor, the child process has "died" but has not yet been "reaped". Also, unlike normal processes, the kill command has no effect on a zombie process.

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A zombie process is usually the result of a shell (graphical or command line) that either neglects to reap its children or simply doesn't do it very often (I wrote a WM once - it had at least a dozen mrxvt processes wandering around). – new123456 Jun 16 '11 at 15:15

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