Cheat Sheets


Instant Applying Limits to Running Processes

Actually you might want to apply the changes directly to a running process additionally to changing /etc/security/limits.conf. In recent edge Linux distributions (e.g. Debian Jessie) there is a tool "prlimit" to get/set limits. Usage for changing limits for a PID is

prlimit --pid <pid> --<limit>=<soft>:<hard>
for example
prlimit --pid 12345 --nofile=1024:2048
If you are unlucky and do not have prlimit yet check out "man 2 prlimit" for instructions on how to compile your own version because despite missing user tool the prlimit() system call is in the kernel for quite a while (since 2.6.36).

Alternative #1: Re-Login with "sudo -i"

If you do not have prlimit yet and want a changed limit configuration to become visible you might want to try "sudo -i". The reason: you need to re-login as limits from /etc/security/* are only applied on login! But wait: what about users without login? In such a case you login as root (which might not share their limits) and sudo into the user: so no real login as the user. In this case you must ensure to use the "-i" option of sudo:
sudo -i -u <user>
to simulate an initial login with sudo. This will apply the new limits.

Alternative #2: Make it work for sudo without "-i"

Wether you need "-i" depends on the PAM configuration of your Linux distribution. If you need it then PAM probably loads "" only in /etc/pam.d/login which means at login time but no on sudo. This was introduced in Ubuntu Precise for example. By adding this line

session    required
in /etc/pam.d/sudo limits will also be applied when running sudo without "-i". Still using "-i" might be easier.

Finally: Always Check Effective Limits

The best way is to change the limits and check them by running
prlimit               # for current shell
prlimit --pid <pid>   # for a running process
because it shows both soft and hard limits together. Alternatively call
ulimit -a                # for current shell
cat /proc/<pid>/limits   # for a running process
with the affected user.

Nagios Check

You might also want to have a look at the nofile limit Nagios check.

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