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Linux® Desk Reference, Second Edition by Scott Hawkins

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Shutdown

When the shutdown command is invoked, the system sends messages notifying users of the impending shutdown. (Usually it is to give the users a bit of warning, lest they come back from the cafeteria and find a day's work destroyed.)

Next, the executing processes are sent a signal, and they terminate with varying degrees of grace. The subsystems are shut down, any users who didn't take the hint are kicked off by force, and any processes that didn't respond to the signal are killed. Any filesystem updates are written out to disk via sync, and, finally, init takes the system to its new runlevel.

A shutdown can be aborted by getting the process ...

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