fork bomb

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fork bomb

A particular species of wabbit that can be written in one line of C:

main() for

or shell:

$0 & $0 &

on any Unix system, or occasionally created by an egregious coding bug. A fork bomb process "explodes" by recursively spawning copies of itself using the Unix system call "fork(2)". Eventually it eats all the process table entries and effectively wedges the system. Fortunately, fork bombs are relatively easy to spot and kill, so creating one deliberately seldom accomplishes more than to bring the just wrath of the gods down upon the perpetrator.

See also logic bomb.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (
References in periodicals archive ?
For example, you can write, compile, and run a fork bomb. A fork bomb is a clever little program that has one purpose in life, and that is to reproduce itself.
We could show how the attack had taken place, could prove how this account had been used to break into the shell, and could usually see the remains of the fork bomb still in the user directory.
The first time you are fork bombed you probably won't understand what is happening.