Can't restart certain crashed applications without rebooting (in this case Noatun)

Sorry this is so long--maybe I can summarize the problem here, then you
can go on and read the background and a more detailed explanation of
the problem:

Sometimes after a program hangs (in this case noatun), I have trouble
restarting it without rebooting my entire system. I do look for all
the processes associated with the application (noatun, using ps -Al |
grep noatun) and kill them, with either kill -9 or kill -15, but
afterwards, when I try to start the application, I just get a spinning
hourglass indication in the taskbox (on the taskbar) and a small
bouncing blue ball elsewhere on the screen, both of which eventually
disappear without having started the application.

Hmm, maybe with that you don't even need the Background and Problem
listed below. I've tried googling, but don't really have a good clue
for what to google.

A dead end (I think):

Oh, wait, I might have a clue: now I try to start noatun in a terminal
(with & or without) and I very quickly (sometimes) get exit 255--hmm,
on the next try I didn't get the exit 255--what does exit 255 mean?:

rhk@s17:~$ noatun &
[2] 11248
[1] Exit 255 noatun

Well, I haven't found out what exit 255 means, but I don't think it
matters, it doesn't consistently happen, just sometimes.


This is surely not a Debian specific question, but I'll try asking here
to see if anyone can give me one or more hints--I've tried to do some
googling, but really don't have a good clue for what to google.

I've had the same thing happen for applications besides Noatun (iirc)
(and on Linuxes that I used before installing Debian 5.0), but because
the current problem is Noatun, I'll mention Noatun in this example.

I was running Noatun and it hung. It may have been something I
did--specifically, at the time it hung, I had the playlist up and was
unchecking checkboxes on the playlist.

In an effort to restart noatun, I looked (using ps -Al | grep noatun)
for all noatun processes and killed them with (the first time)
kill -9. Later (on subsequent attempts), I tried kill -15.

Either one wipes out all the processes with noatun in the name.

The problem:

Here's the problem: when I go to restart noatun, it won't restart. On
the taskbar (is that the right name in KDE) I see a task labeled noatun
seemingly attempt to start--I see an hourglass spinning, and elsewhere
on my screen I see some sort of small bouncing blue ball, but after 15
seconds or so, both disappear and noatun hasn't restarted. If I go
look at the processes using ps -Al | grep noatun, I find something like
the following:

s17:~# ps -Al | grep noatun
1 S 1000 11039 3039 0 80 0 - 8589 - ? 00:00:00 noatun
1 S 1000 11040 11039 0 80 0 - 9670 - ? 00:00:00 noatun
1 S 1000 11141 3039 0 80 0 - 8589 - ? 00:00:00 noatun
1 Z 1000 11142 11141 0 80 0 - 0 - ? 00:00:00 noatun

If I wipe those out (using kill -9 or kill -15), they disappear, but
when I try to noatun again I get the same result.

In the past, the only way I found to recover from a situation like this
was to reboot. (Potentially just restarting KDE might also solve the
problem, but from my point of view, restarting KDE is as drastic a
solution as rebooting, so when I think about restarting KDE I just go
ahead and do a (cold) reboot with the hope of cleaning up any other
possible "garbage" that might be floating around in my system.)

I see that the one process is a Zombie. I've googled on things like
zombie, process, noatun, restart, and combinations thereof--even a good
suggestion on appropriate search terms might get me started here (of
course, a nice clear explanation and course of action would be nicer).

Randy Kramer

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