5 Linux commands to shutdown and reboot the system

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Linux shutdown / reboot command

On Linux, like all tasks, the shutdown and restart operations can also be done from the command line. The commands are shutdown, halt, poweroff, reboot and REISUB keystrokes.

In this post I am going to show you how to shutdown or restart a linux system using these commands. The commands are useful specially when you have to reboot a remote linux server, where only shell access is available and no gui. Servers often need a restart when upgrades are installed or need to shutdown for other maintainance tasks.

The commands are available on any linux system like centos, ubuntu, debian, fedora or suse and do not require the installation of any extra packages.

1. shutdown command

The first command is the shutdown command and it can be used to shutdown a system or restart it. It is commonly used to shutdown or reboot both local and remote machines.

shutdown  arranges  for  the  system to be brought down in a safe way.  All logged-in users are notified that the system is going down and, within the last five minutes of TIME, new logins are prevented.

The syntax is

shutdown [OPTION] [TIME] [MESSAGE]

Shutdown linux

To shutdown a machine call the shutdown command like this

# shutdown -h now

The h option is for halt which means to stop. The second parameter is the time parameter. "now" means that shutdown the system right away.

The time parameter can be specified in minutes or hours also. For example

# shutdown -h +5 "Server is going down for upgrade. Please save your work."

The above command shall flash the message to all other logged in users and give them 5 minutes before the system goes for shutdown.

Restart linux

The shutdown command can be used to restart a system with the r option instead of the h option. Usage is same as before. Just replace the h option with r option.

# shutdown -r +5 "Server will restart in 5 minutes. Please save your work."

All other logged in users will see a broadcast message in their terminal like this

[root@dhcppc1 ~]# 
Broadcast message from root@dhcppc1
        (/dev/tty1) at 21:35 ...

The system is going down for reboot in 5 minutes!
Server will restart in 5 minutes. Please save your work.

At this point a shutdown can be cancelled by calling shutdown with "c" option.

# shutdown -c






2. reboot command

Next command is the reboot command. It can be used to shutdown or reboot linux.

The following command will shutdown linux.

# reboot -p

The "p" options stands for poweroff.

To reboot linux just call the reboot command directly without any options.

# reboot

This will perform a graceful shutdown and restart of the machine. This is what happens when you click restart from your menu.

Reboot linux forcibly

The following command will forcefully reboot the machine. This is similar to pressing the power button of the CPU. No shutdown takes place. The system will reset instantly.

# reboot -f

The man page explains it as follows

When  called  with  --force  or  when  in  runlevel 0 or 6, this tool invokes the reboot(2) system call itself (with REBOOTCOMMAND argument passed) and directly reboots the system.  Otherwise this simply invokes the shutdown(8) tool with the appropriate arguments without passing REBOOTCOMMAND argument.

3. halt command

The next command is the halt command. This can shutdown a system

# halt

The halt command also has a force option, but you do not want to use it. It is supposed to shutdown the system instantly. But its behaviour may not be consistent. Desktops might hang on running this command.

4. poweroff command

There is another command exactly same as the halt command. It does the same things and takes the same options.

# poweroff

5. REISUB - R E I S U B key strokes

The above shown commands can be used when you are in control of your system. What if the system has hanged and is not responding at all. And you do not want to press the power button on the CPU which might lead to data corruption. To save from such a situation, comes the magic sysRQ keys.

A special combination of key presses that will allow you to reboot your linux system, no matter how much it is hanged. Check the wikipedia article. for more information.

A common use of the magic SysRq key is to perform a safe reboot of a Linux computer which has otherwise locked up. This can prevent a fsck being required on reboot and gives some programs a chance to save emergency backups of unsaved work.

Warning : Pressing the following keys would instantly reboot your system. Its similar to pressing the power button of your CPU or executing the reboot -f command.

ALT + PrintScreen + B

Now in place of the B key we have to use R E I S U letters first. Each key does a task as mentioned below

unRaw      (take control of keyboard back from X),
 tErminate (send SIGTERM to all processes, allowing them to terminate gracefully),
 kIll      (send SIGKILL to all processes, forcing them to terminate immediately),
  Sync     (flush data to disk),
  Unmount  (remount all filesystems read-only),
reBoot.

1. Hold down the Alt and SysRq (Print Screen) keys.
2. While holding those down, type the following keys in order, several seconds apart: R E I S U B
3. Computer should reboot.

Make sure to have some time gap between each of keys R E I S U B.

The sysrq feature can be controlled by changing the value of /proc/sys/kernel/sysrq. To check if sysrq is enabled on the system or not, echo the value. It should be non zero.

$ cat /proc/sys/kernel/sysrq
176

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Last Updated On : 26th August 2013

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  • sam

    I rebooted my linux machine using command reboot -f, it went down. How long does it takes normally to start again?

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