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Linux Pocket Guide, 2nd Edition by Daniel J. Barrett

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Killing a Command in Progress

If you’ve launched a command from the shell running in the foreground, and want to kill it immediately, type ^C. The shell recognizes ^C as meaning, “terminate the current foreground command right now.” So if you are displaying a very long file (say, with the cat command) and want to stop, type ^C:

$ cat bigfile
This is a very long file with many lines. Blah blah blah
blah blah blah blahblahblah ^C
$

To kill a program running in the background, you can bring it into the foreground with fg and then type ^C, or alternatively, use the kill command (see Controlling Processes).

Typing ^C is not a friendly way to end a program. If the program has its own way to exit, use that when possible: see the sidebar for details.

^C works only with shells. It will likely have no effect if typed in a window that is not a shell window. Additionally, some programs are written to “catch” the ^C and ignore it: an example is the ...

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