A common idiom to perform a safe reboot of a Linux computer which has otherwise locked up, using the magic Alt-SysRq-R-E-I-S-U-B key combination is the QWERTY (or AZERTY) mnemonic “Raising Elephants Is So Utterly Boring”, “Reboot Even If System Utterly Broken” or simply remembering the word “BUSIER” backwards, is often useful. It stands for
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.
This can prevent a fsck being required on reboot and gives some programs a chance to save emergency backups of unsaved work.
In practice, each command may require a few seconds to complete, especially if feedback is unavailable from the screen due to a freeze or display corruption. For example, sending SIGKILL to processes which have not yet finished terminating can cause data loss.