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1.1.0 • Public • Published

kill-with-style - Kill procesess gracefully with retries, signals and all children

Kill child processes gracefully and surely with all their children. With retries, custom signals, timeout and customizable retry/check intervals.

Fully tested. Supports MacOS/Linux/Windows.

When using on Windows make sure to make .timeout and .checkInterval larger, especially when there is need to kill multiple children. On Windows WMIC is used for getting process children and checking if it's dead. It is slow, about 300-400ms per check!

var kill = require("kill-with-style");
var childProcess = require("child_process");
var child = childProcess.spawn("...");
kill(, function (err) {
    if (err) {
        // process can't be killed or timedout
    // process is dead
// Or with options
var options = {
    signal: "SIGKILL",
    retryCount: 5,
    retryInterval: 500
kill(, options, callback);


npm install kill-with-style

If you trust child process to clean its own children, but it will take time, try to set longer timeout and 0 retries, that way it will patiently wait it to die after the first signal:

kill(, { timeout: 10000, retryCount: 0 }, callback);

If you trust, but want some guarantees, try to wait long enough and kill it with SIGKILL afterwards:

kill(, {
    signal: ["SIGINT", "SIGKILL"],
    retryCount: 1,
    retryInterval: 10000,
    timeout: 11000
}, callback);

Send SIGINT, wait 10000, send SIGKILL, wait 1000 until timeout.


  • Allow processes to gracefully exit and clean children themselves
  • Multiple retries to kill
  • Retry to kill with specific interval, multiple intervals for each retry
  • Custom signal, could set different signal for each try
  • Set timeout
  • Set check interval for processes that die after delay
  • Use PGID on mac/linux to kill children that are spawned between sending parent signal and checking (for detached processes only)
  • Supports Windows

kill(pid, [options], callback)

.signal - signal to send to child when process.kill(pid, signal)

.timeout - after which return with error

.retryInterval - intervals between sending of kill signal

.retryCount - number of retries

.checkInterval - interval between checks if process is dead

.usePGID - use PGID on mac/linux

.killChildrenImmediately - kill children immediately, don't wait for parent to die

All options except .timeout are applied when trying to kill children.

When setting timeouts keep in mind that children will be killed only afrer parent process is dead.

On Windows .signal is not supported, options .retryInterval and .retryCount will most probably do nothing when killing other node.js processes. On Windows process.kill() is killing children without ability for them to postpone their exit.

.signal #

By default = "SIGINT". Isn't supported on Windows, it doen't support sending signals by PID.

Set signal that will be send to child process. If value is array of signals, each signal will be use for the Nth try.

If .signal is array and its length is less then .retryCount + 1 then the last signal will be used for all subsequent retries.


    { signal: "SIGINT" }

All attempts to kill will send SIGINT signal to child.

    { signal: ["SIGINT", "SIGINT", "SIGKILL"], retryCount: 2 }


    { signal: ["SIGINT", "SIGINT", "SIGKILL"], retryCount: 3 }


.timeout #

By default = 2000. In milliseconds.

After specified millisecons module will stop trying to kill process and return error.

.retryInterval #

By default = 2000. In milliseconds.

Interval between retries to kill process. Could be array to specify interval between each retries.

If .retryInterval is array and its length is less then .retryCount then the last interval will be used for all subsequent retries.

If both .retryInterval and .retryCount are specified will overwrite .timeout if it's shorter than all tries need. Example:

    { retryInterval: 1000, retryCount: 2, timeout: 1500 }
    // overwrite .timeout = 1000 + 1000 + 1000
    { retryInterval: 1000, retryCount: 2, timeout: 3000 }
    // .timeout = 3000, no overwrite


    { retryInterval: 200, retryCount: 2 }

Try to kill, wait 200, retry, wait 200, retry, wait until timeout.

    { retryInterval: [500, 200, 100], retryCount: 3 }

Try to kill, wait 500, retry, wait 200, retry, wait 100, retry, wait until timeout.

    { retryInterval: [500, 100], retryCount: 3 }

Try to kill, wait 500, retry, wait 100, retry, wait 100, retry, wait until timeout.

.retryCount #

By default = 3.

Set number of retries to kill the process. Total tries will be .retryCount + 1.

If .retryInterval is not specified, it will be calculated as .timeout / (.retryCount + 1).

.checkInterval #

By default = 50. In milliseconds.

Interval of checks after sending signal. Will try to check if process is dead until next retry or timeout.

If .checkInterval > .retryInterval it will check if process is dead exactly once.

.usePGID #

By default = true.

Used only if process is detached, pid == pgid! When process is in own group all sub-children will have the same pgid.

Will use process group ID on mac/linux to track all children.

Isn't used on Windows.

.killChildrenImmediately #

By default = false.

If true will try to kill children and parent simultaneously.

If false will try to kill parent first and after it's dead will kill children. Useful for graceful shutdown when processes clean own children.

Getting Processes

Module uses ps on mac/linux and WMIC on windows and parses their output, exact commands are:

  ps -A -o ppid,pgid,pid
  wmic PROCESS GET ParentProcessId,ProcessId


npm i kill-with-style

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