Leftover dbus processes after launching a dbus-using application remotely and then closing the application

Solution Verified - Updated -


  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)
    • 6
    • 7


  • When processes needing dbus are launched remotely (via ssh, LSF, or a similar tool), dbus processes keep running even after the main process is closed, blocking the remote session and preventing it from terminating properly.
$ emacs
(emacs opens and then close it)

$ ps -ef | grep USER
USER 12467     1  0 11:47 pts/115  00:00:00 dbus-launch --autolaunch e6d5e75b43ed447899e385d217cd827f --binary-syntax --close-stderr
USER  12469     1  0 11:47 ?        00:00:00 /usr/bin/dbus-daemon --fork --print-pid 5 --print-address 7 --session
USER  12473     1  0 11:47 ?        00:00:00 /usr/libexec/gconfd-2

$ logout
(Waiting  until C-c)


  • First, update to

    • (RHEL 7) dbus-1.10.24-3.el7
    • (RHEL 6) dbus-1.2.24-9.el6
      or later
  • For interactive use, make sure to launch dbus-run-session before the shell. For instance, add this to .bashrc:

if test -z "$DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS" ; then
  exec dbus-run-session -- bash
  echo "D-Bus per-session daemon address is: $DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS"

so that the resulting process tree shows the bash shell running under dbus-run-session:

$ ps f
 2075 pts/0    Ss     0:00 dbus-run-session -- bash
 2095 pts/0    Sl     0:00  \_ dbus-daemon --nofork --print-address 4 --session
 2096 pts/0    S      0:00  \_ bash
  • For non-interactive use, use "dbus-run-session -- command" directly, which will solve the issue unless the command forks in the background.

  • Write bash_logout script which will be in charge of killing remaining dbus-* programs for the session, assuming it's the last bash

# ~/.bash_logout

# Check if we are the "parent" shell in a ssh session
[ "$(cat /proc/$PPID/comm)" == "sshd" ] || return

cgroup=$(awk -F ':' '$2 == "name=systemd" { print $3 }' /proc/self/cgroup)
[ -n "$cgroup" ] || return

# Search for "dbus-[daemon|launch]" programs running for this session

for pid in $(cat /sys/fs/cgroup/systemd/$cgroup/tasks 2>/dev/null); do
    comm=$(cat /proc/$pid/comm 2>/dev/null)
    case "$comm" in
        echo "Killing '$comm' (PID $pid) ..."
        kill $pid

Root Cause

  • This happens because dbus-launch/dbus-daemon remain alive (they are created detached from parent terminal)

Diagnostic Steps

  • launch a command like gnome-terminal or gnome-text-editor remotely (via ssh -X for instance)
  • exit gnome-terminal / gnome-text-editor
  • the remote session stays stuck instead of exiting
  • dbus-launch and dbus-daemon processes are left over in the output of "ps ax"

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