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2004/02/27 zombie

A process whose parent dies before it did.

Zombies result from errors or sloppy programming. A process forks, and execs a new process onto the fork. The original process is the parent of the old process; you can see that in a "ps" listing. If that parent now dies or exits deliberately, the child process continues to run. But when it dies, it is supposed to report its exit status to its parent - if that parent were alive, it is supposed to issue a "wait()" on the child to collect that status. If the parent is dead, it's not going to be doing that, so init inherits the process and shows it as being in a "zombie" state. Init will clean everything up eventually; just give it time.

See Understanding "Kill"

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