Those Pesky Applications!

Regardless of which operating you’re using, you’re bound to encounter applications that cause you problems. Some applications cause you problems so often that you eventually place a custom launcher or even a keyboard short-cut to a command that kills the applications. Firefox used to be one, but since version 3, it’s been much better. I still have problems, though now it’s always related to the Flash plug-in (which is rather troublesome in 64 bits mode). Another one that cause me problems regularly, is EvilEvolution, the Exchange client for Linux.


One essential *nix command you should know, is kill. The kill command dispatches a signal to a process, by default, SIGTERM. This message instructs the process to terminate. It can ignore the signal, but in general, it will close gracefully after freeing resources. If the program ignores the signal or is in an unstable state, you can kill it “harder” by using kill -9, which sends the process an unmaskable SIGKILL. The process terminates instantly under most circumstances.


The fun part is to add kill and killall commands as custom launchers. In Gnome, you just right-click on a panel and pick “add to panel”. There’s a short how-to here.

Custom Launcher Example

Custom Launcher Example

To kill Firefox, you can use:

killall -9 firefox

Which will dispatch death to all firefoxes running. You may also want to add an extra command to kill the npviewer.bin process, which wraps 32 bits applications for firefox—Flash lives in this process, so if it causes you problems, you might kill this one as well. As for evolution, it relies on a few helper dæmons/applications, like evolution-alarm-notify, evolution-exchange-storage and evolution-data-server-x.yz (there x.yz is your version number). To do so add a launcher with:

killall -r evolution*

The -r switch instructs killall to expect a regular expression. It will dispatch SIGTERM signals to all processes whose name begins by evolution.

Even funnier is to add bloody icons for the launchers. I made two from spare parts, one for Firefox, the other for Evolution.



And the final 128×128 icons:



* *

Both icons are released according to their original licences: the Firefox logo is released under … well, the uncomplicated Logo Licence (it falls into the “any item you can think of”, I’d say). Support Firefox by downloading it, if you don’t have it already. The “kill evolution” icon is made from bits from teh internets. Support Evolution by buying Darwin fish car plaques.

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