Short: The Halt Command

Today’s article is intentionally short because we’re simply going to learn about the basics of the halt command. There won’t be much to this article, because there doesn’t need to be.

If you have a Linux system, you can access the halt command. The halt command is one of the commands used for power management but not one you’re likely to use. You’re more likely to run reboot or shutdown command.

Why the halt command? Well, it’s archaic these days. I really can’t think of all that many, or any really, reasons to use it. I’m told you can use this command for low-level maintenance but I’ve never been able to use that for anything.

The Halt Command:

Under the hood, when you issue the halt command, the operating system goes through a series of steps to ensure a clean shutdown. It stops all running processes, unmounts filesystems, and sends signals to devices and services to shut down gracefully. Once everything is properly shut down, it halts the CPU and powers off the system hardware.

If you check the man page (with man halt) you’ll see that it agrees with the above statement and is a tool for managing your power state.

halt, poweroff, reboot – Halt, power-off or reboot the machine

While there’s more to the command, we’ll just cover the basics. So, press CTRL + ALT + T and open your default terminal emulator.

Or not… You only want to run the halt command when you need the command. It will shut everything down and that’s not something you necessarily want to do while reading this article.

The syntax is quite simple:

This will halt all the processes and leave the computer running. To completely turn it off, you’ll need to use the power button.

You can also try this command:

Now the -p is handy. After halting the computer, it will initiate a shutdown.

Then, you might find this a bit handier…

If it’s not obvious, the --reboot flag will reboot the computer. This means you needn’t use the power button for anything. It should just halt the system and then initiate a reboot sequence.


That’s all there is today. I told you, it’s a short article. We just covered the halt command and nothing more. This isn’t complicated enough for a full-length article but is still a command that deserves to be mentioned. So, it has been mentioned. The good news is that there might be a future article that refers to this article, so my time might not be wasted.

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Author: KGIII

Retired mathematician, residing in the mountains of Maine. I may be old and wise, but I am not infallible. Please point out any errors. And, as always, thanks again for reading.

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