Use the processes InSpec audit resource to test properties for programs that are running on the system.


A processes resource block declares the name of the process to be tested, and then declares one (or more) property/value pairs:

describe processes('process_name') do
  its('property_name') { should eq ['property_value'] }


  • processes('process_name') specifies the name of a process to check. If this is a string, it will be converted to a Regexp. For more specificity, pass a Regexp directly. If left blank, all processes will be returned.
  • property_name may be used to test user (its('users')) and state properties (its('states'))


The following examples show how to use this InSpec audit resource.

Test if the list length for the mysqld process is 1

describe processes('mysqld') do
  its('list.length') { should eq 1 }

Test if the process is owned by a specifc user

describe processes('init') do
  its('users') { should eq ['root'] }

describe processes('winlogon') do
  its('users') { should cmp "NT AUTHORITY\\SYSTEM" }

Test if a high-priority process is running

describe processes('linux_process') do
  its('states') { should eq ['R<'] }

describe processes('windows_process') do
  its('labels') { should cmp "High" }

Test if a process exists on the system

describe processes('some_process') do
  it { should exist }

Test for a process using a specific Regexp

If the process name is too common for a string to uniquely find it, you may use a regexp. Inclusion of whitespace characters may be needed.

describe processes("/usr/local/bin/swap -d")) do
  its('list.length') { should eq 1 }

Notes for auditing Windows systems

Sometimes with system properties there isn’t a direct comparison between different operating systems. Most of the property_name‘s do align between the different OS’s.

There are however some exception’s, for example, within linux states offers multiple properties. Windows doesn’t have direct comparison that is a single property so instead states is mapped to the property of Responding, This is a boolean true/false flag to help determine if the process is hung.

Below is a mapping table to help you understand what property the unix field maps to the windows Get-Process Property

unix ps field windows PowerShell Property
labels PriorityClass
pids Id
cpus CPU
mem PM
vsz VirtualMemorySize
rss NPM
tty SessionId
states Responding
start StartTime
time TotalProcessorTime
users UserName
commands Path


For a full list of available matchers, please visit our matchers page.


The property_name matcher tests the named property for the specified value:

its('property_name') { should eq ['property_value'] }