[vbox-dev] SVN builds Leaving zombie processes on shutdown of guest

Klaus Espenlaub klaus.espenlaub at oracle.com
Tue Jun 4 09:06:46 GMT 2013

Hi Perry,

On 03.06.2013 23:10, Perry Halbert wrote:
> More research on this shows that using VBoxHeadless -s <guest> or shift
> start from the main manager does not produce the zombies.
> Only normal starting from the main manager or shortcut does.

Very very strange, I'm not aware of any intentional code changes in this 
area for approx. a year, and actually I have no idea why VBoxHeadless 
processes would consistently behave differently. The distinction should 
be "VM started through the API" (i.e. anything in the GUI, and 
VBoxManage startvm) or "VM started directly" (i.e. 
VirtualBox/VBoxHeadless/VBoxSDL --startvm foo). In the latter case 
VBoxSVC is not the parent and thus isn't responsible for waiting for the 
process exit result.

I can reproduce, so will investigate what's causing this behavior change.

Thanks for letting us know...


> On 06/01/2013 11:56 AM, Perry Halbert wrote:
>> Strange behavior the last few weeks.
>> Stopping ( even saved state ) a guest leaves a zombie process on the
>> host.
>> Each new start and it uses a new pid and the zombie is still there.
>> Stop all guests and the main manager and all processes including the
>> zombie processes finally clear.
>> Host = Ubuntu 12.04 LTS guest = any.
>> perry     9538  6.0  0.0      0     0 ?        Z    11:36   0:34
>> [VirtualBox] <defunct>
>> perry     9934  4.3  0.0      0     0 ?        Z    11:37   0:22
>> [VirtualBox] <defunct>
>> Normally I would not have seen this but the processor was doing work
>> when it should have been idle. I have never seen a zombie process
>> using CPU ticks before.  Wait long enough and the %CPU will finally
>> get to zero but it seems to take like 20 to 30 minutes to do so.
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