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I have Monit checking a process whose name is just "python", but would like a more informative name (e.g. "webapp") in status, emails, etc. Is there any way to declare an alias, or would I have to change the process's name to achieve this?

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The name argument directly after CHECK PROCESS is freeform and can be anything. The name is supposedly only used internally inside Monit for purposes of notification. As long as you specify the pid file, monit does not care what the name of the process is.

See their docs (search for procmatch):

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