getrlimit, setrlimit, prlimit - get/set resource limits


   #include <sys/time.h>
   #include <sys/resource.h>

   int getrlimit(int resource, struct rlimit *rlim);
   int setrlimit(int resource, const struct rlimit *rlim);

   int prlimit(pid_t pid, int resource, const struct rlimit *new_limit,
               struct rlimit *old_limit);

   Feature Test Macro Requirements for glibc (see feature_test_macros(7)):

   prlimit(): _GNU_SOURCE


   The  getrlimit()  and  setrlimit()  system  calls  get and set resource
   limits respectively.  Each resource has an  associated  soft  and  hard
   limit, as defined by the rlimit structure:

       struct rlimit {
           rlim_t rlim_cur;  /* Soft limit */
           rlim_t rlim_max;  /* Hard limit (ceiling for rlim_cur) */

   The  soft  limit  is  the  value  that  the  kernel  enforces  for  the
   corresponding resource.  The hard limit acts as a ceiling for the  soft
   limit:  an  unprivileged process may set only its soft limit to a value
   in the range from 0 up to the hard limit, and (irreversibly) lower  its
   hard   limit.    A  privileged  process  (under  Linux:  one  with  the
   CAP_SYS_RESOURCE capability) may make arbitrary changes to either limit

   The  value  RLIM_INFINITY  denotes  no limit on a resource (both in the
   structure returned by  getrlimit()  and  in  the  structure  passed  to

   The resource argument must be one of:

          The maximum size of the process's virtual memory (address space)
          in bytes.  This limit affects  calls  to  brk(2),  mmap(2),  and
          mremap(2),  which fail with the error ENOMEM upon exceeding this
          limit.  Also automatic stack expansion will fail (and generate a
          SIGSEGV  that  kills  the process if no alternate stack has been
          made available via sigaltstack(2)).  Since the value is a  long,
          on  machines  with  a 32-bit long either this limit is at most 2
          GiB, or this resource is unlimited.

          Maximum size of a core file (see core(5)).  When 0 no core  dump
          files  are created.  When nonzero, larger dumps are truncated to
          this size.

          CPU time limit in seconds.  When the process  reaches  the  soft
          limit, it is sent a SIGXCPU signal.  The default action for this
          signal is to terminate the process.  However, the signal can  be
          caught,  and the handler can return control to the main program.
          If the process continues to consume CPU time, it  will  be  sent
          SIGXCPU  once  per  second  until  the hard limit is reached, at
          which time it is sent SIGKILL.   (This  latter  point  describes
          Linux   behavior.    Implementations  vary  in  how  they  treat
          processes which continue to consume CPU time after reaching  the
          soft  limit.   Portable  applications  that  need  to catch this
          signal should perform an orderly termination upon first  receipt
          of SIGXCPU.)

          The  maximum  size  of  the  process's data segment (initialized
          data, uninitialized data, and heap).  This limit  affects  calls
          to  brk(2)  and  sbrk(2),  which fail with the error ENOMEM upon
          encountering the soft limit of this resource.

          The maximum size of files that the process may create.  Attempts
          to  extend  a  file  beyond  this  limit result in delivery of a
          SIGXFSZ signal.  By default, this signal terminates  a  process,
          but  a  process can catch this signal instead, in which case the
          relevant system call (e.g., write(2),  truncate(2))  fails  with
          the error EFBIG.

   RLIMIT_LOCKS (Early Linux 2.4 only)
          A  limit  on  the combined number of flock(2) locks and fcntl(2)
          leases that this process may establish.

          The maximum number of bytes of memory that may  be  locked  into
          RAM.   In  effect  this  limit  is  rounded  down to the nearest
          multiple of the system page size.  This limit  affects  mlock(2)
          and  mlockall(2)  and  the  mmap(2) MAP_LOCKED operation.  Since
          Linux 2.6.9 it also affects the  shmctl(2)  SHM_LOCK  operation,
          where  it  sets  a  maximum  on the total bytes in shared memory
          segments (see shmget(2)) that may be locked by the real user  ID
          of  the  calling  process.   The  shmctl(2)  SHM_LOCK  locks are
          accounted for  separately  from  the  per-process  memory  locks
          established  by mlock(2), mlockall(2), and mmap(2) MAP_LOCKED; a
          process can lock bytes up to this limit in  each  of  these  two

          In  Linux kernels before 2.6.9, this limit controlled the amount
          of memory that could be locked by a privileged  process.   Since
          Linux 2.6.9, no limits are placed on the amount of memory that a
          privileged process may lock, and this limit instead governs  the
          amount of memory that an unprivileged process may lock.

   RLIMIT_MSGQUEUE (since Linux 2.6.8)
          Specifies the limit on the number of bytes that can be allocated
          for POSIX message queues for the real user  ID  of  the  calling
          process.   This  limit is enforced for mq_open(3).  Each message
          queue that the user creates counts (until it is removed) against
          this limit according to the formula:

              Since Linux 3.5:

                  bytes = attr.mq_maxmsg * sizeof(struct msg_msg) +
                          min(attr.mq_maxmsg, MQ_PRIO_MAX) *
                                sizeof(struct posix_msg_tree_node)+
                                          /* For overhead */
                          attr.mq_maxmsg * attr.mq_msgsize;
                                          /* For message data */

              Linux 3.4 and earlier:

                  bytes = attr.mq_maxmsg * sizeof(struct msg_msg *) +
                                          /* For overhead */
                          attr.mq_maxmsg * attr.mq_msgsize;
                                          /* For message data */

          where  attr  is  the  mq_attr  structure specified as the fourth
          argument to mq_open(3), and the msg_msg and  posix_msg_tree_node
          structures are kernel-internal structures.

          The "overhead" addend in the formula accounts for overhead bytes
          required by the implementation and ensures that the user  cannot
          create   an  unlimited  number  of  zero-length  messages  (such
          messages  nevertheless  each  consume  some  system  memory  for
          bookkeeping overhead).

   RLIMIT_NICE (since Linux 2.6.12, but see BUGS below)
          Specifies  a  ceiling  to  which the process's nice value can be
          raised using setpriority(2) or nice(2).  The actual ceiling  for
          the nice value is calculated as 20 - rlim_cur.  The useful range
          for this limit is thus from 1 (corresponding to a nice value  of
          19)  to 40 (corresponding to a nice value of -20).  This unusual
          choice of range is was necessary because negative numbers cannot
          be specified as resource limit values, since they typically have
          special meanings.  For example, RLIM_INFINITY typically  is  the
          same as -1.  For more detail on the nice value, see sched(7).

          Specifies  a  value one greater than the maximum file descriptor
          number that can be opened by this process.   Attempts  (open(2),
          pipe(2),  dup(2),  etc.)   to  exceed this limit yield the error
          EMFILE.  (Historically, this limit  was  named  RLIMIT_OFILE  on

          The  maximum  number  of processes (or, more precisely on Linux,
          threads) that can be created for the real user ID of the calling
          process.   Upon  encountering this limit, fork(2) fails with the
          error EAGAIN.  This limit is not  enforced  for  processes  that
          have   either   the   CAP_SYS_ADMIN   or   the  CAP_SYS_RESOURCE

          Specifies the limit (in bytes) of  the  process's  resident  set
          (the  number  of virtual pages resident in RAM).  This limit has
          effect only in Linux 2.4.x, x < 30, and there affects only calls
          to madvise(2) specifying MADV_WILLNEED.

   RLIMIT_RTPRIO (since Linux 2.6.12, but see BUGS)
          Specifies  a  ceiling  on the real-time priority that may be set
          for    this    process    using    sched_setscheduler(2)     and

          For  further  details  on  real-time  scheduling  policies,  see

   RLIMIT_RTTIME (since Linux 2.6.25)
          Specifies a limit (in microseconds) on the amount  of  CPU  time
          that a process scheduled under a real-time scheduling policy may
          consume without making a blocking system call.  For the  purpose
          of this limit, each time a process makes a blocking system call,
          the count of its consumed CPU time is reset to  zero.   The  CPU
          time  count  is not reset if the process continues trying to use
          the CPU but is preempted, its time slice expires,  or  it  calls

          Upon  reaching  the  soft  limit,  the process is sent a SIGXCPU
          signal.  If the process  catches  or  ignores  this  signal  and
          continues  consuming  CPU  time,  then SIGXCPU will be generated
          once each second until the hard limit is reached, at which point
          the process is sent a SIGKILL signal.

          The  intended  use  of this limit is to stop a runaway real-time
          process from locking up the system.

          For  further  details  on  real-time  scheduling  policies,  see

   RLIMIT_SIGPENDING (since Linux 2.6.8)
          Specifies  the limit on the number of signals that may be queued
          for the real user ID of the calling process.  Both standard  and
          real-time  signals  are counted for the purpose of checking this
          limit.  However, the limit is enforced only for sigqueue(3);  it
          is  always  possible to use kill(2) to queue one instance of any
          of the signals that are not already queued to the process.

          The maximum size of the process stack, in bytes.  Upon  reaching
          this  limit,  a  SIGSEGV  signal  is  generated.  To handle this
          signal,  a  process  must  employ  an  alternate  signal   stack

          Since  Linux  2.6.23,  this  limit also determines the amount of
          space  used  for  the  process's  command-line   arguments   and
          environment variables; for details, see execve(2).

   The  Linux-specific  prlimit()  system  call  combines  and extends the
   functionality of setrlimit() and getrlimit().  It can be used  to  both
   set and get the resource limits of an arbitrary process.

   The  resource  argument  has  the  same  meaning as for setrlimit() and

   If the new_limit argument is a not NULL, then the rlimit  structure  to
   which  it points is used to set new values for the soft and hard limits
   for resource.  If  the  old_limit  argument  is  a  not  NULL,  then  a
   successful  call  to prlimit() places the previous soft and hard limits
   for resource in the rlimit structure pointed to by old_limit.

   The pid argument specifies the ID of the process on which the  call  is
   to operate.  If pid is 0, then the call applies to the calling process.
   To set or get the resources of a process other than itself, the  caller
   must  have the CAP_SYS_RESOURCE capability in the user namespace of the
   process  whose  resource  limits  are  being  changed,  or  the   real,
   effective,  and saved set user IDs of the target process must match the
   real user ID of the caller and the real, effective, and saved set group
   IDs of the target process must match the real group ID of the caller.


   On success, these system calls return 0.  On error, -1 is returned, and
   errno is set appropriately.


   EFAULT A pointer argument points to a location outside  the  accessible
          address space.

   EINVAL The   value   specified  in  resource  is  not  valid;  or,  for
          setrlimit()  or  prlimit():  rlim->rlim_cur  was  greater   than

   EPERM  An  unprivileged  process  tried  to  raise  the hard limit; the
          CAP_SYS_RESOURCE capability is required to do this.

   EPERM  The caller tried to increase the hard RLIMIT_NOFILE limit  above
          the maximum defined by /proc/sys/fs/nr_open (see proc(5))

   EPERM  (prlimit())  The  calling process did not have permission to set
          limits for the process specified by pid.

   ESRCH  Could not find a process with the ID specified in pid.


   The prlimit() system call is available  since  Linux  2.6.36.   Library
   support is available since glibc 2.13.


   For   an   explanation   of   the  terms  used  in  this  section,  see

   Interface                            Attribute      Value   
   getrlimit(), setrlimit(), prlimit()  Thread safety  MT-Safe 


   getrlimit(), setrlimit(): POSIX.1-2001, POSIX.1-2008, SVr4, 4.3BSD.
   prlimit(): Linux-specific.

   RLIMIT_MEMLOCK and RLIMIT_NPROC derive from BSD and are  not  specified
   in  POSIX.1;  they  are present on the BSDs and Linux, but on few other
   implementations.  RLIMIT_RSS derives from BSD and is not  specified  in
   POSIX.1;   it   is   nevertheless   present  on  most  implementations.
   RLIMIT_SIGPENDING are Linux-specific.


   A  child  process  created  via  fork(2) inherits its parent's resource
   limits.  Resource limits are preserved across execve(2).

   Lowering the soft limit for a  resource  below  the  process's  current
   consumption of that resource will succeed (but will prevent the process
   from further increasing its consumption of the resource).

   One can set the resource limits of the shell using the built-in  ulimit
   command  (limit  in csh(1)).  The shell's resource limits are inherited
   by the processes that it creates to execute commands.

   Since Linux 2.6.24, the resource limits of any process can be inspected
   via /proc/[pid]/limits; see proc(5).

   Ancient  systems provided a vlimit() function with a similar purpose to
   setrlimit().  For backward compatibility, glibc also provides vlimit().
   All new applications should be written using setrlimit().

   C library/ kernel ABI differences
   Since  version  2.13,  the  glibc  getrlimit()  and setrlimit() wrapper
   functions no longer invoke the corresponding system calls, but  instead
   employ prlimit(), for the reasons described in BUGS.

   The  name  of  the  glibc wrapper function is prlimit(); the underlying
   system call is prlimit64().


   In older Linux kernels, the SIGXCPU and SIGKILL signals delivered  when
   a  process  encountered  the  soft  and  hard  RLIMIT_CPU  limits  were
   delivered one (CPU) second later than they should have been.  This  was
   fixed in kernel 2.6.8.

   In  2.6.x  kernels  before  2.6.17,  a RLIMIT_CPU limit of 0 is wrongly
   treated as  "no  limit"  (like  RLIM_INFINITY).   Since  Linux  2.6.17,
   setting  a limit of 0 does have an effect, but is actually treated as a
   limit of 1 second.

   A kernel bug means that RLIMIT_RTPRIO does not work in  kernel  2.6.12;
   the problem is fixed in kernel 2.6.13.

   In kernel 2.6.12, there was an off-by-one mismatch between the priority
   ranges returned by getpriority(2) and RLIMIT_NICE.  This had the effect
   that   the  actual  ceiling  for  the  nice  value  was  calculated  as
   19 - rlim_cur.  This was fixed in kernel 2.6.13.

   Since Linux 2.6.12, if a process reaches its soft RLIMIT_CPU limit  and
   has  a handler installed for SIGXCPU, then, in addition to invoking the
   signal handler, the kernel increases the  soft  limit  by  one  second.
   This  behavior  repeats  if  the process continues to consume CPU time,
   until the hard limit is reached, at which point the process is  killed.
   Other  implementations  do not change the RLIMIT_CPU soft limit in this
   manner, and the Linux behavior is probably  not  standards  conformant;
   portable  applications  should  avoid  relying  on  this Linux-specific
   behavior.  The Linux-specific RLIMIT_RTTIME  limit  exhibits  the  same
   behavior when the soft limit is encountered.

   Kernels before 2.4.22 did not diagnose the error EINVAL for setrlimit()
   when rlim->rlim_cur was greater than rlim->rlim_max.

   Representation of "large" resource limit values on 32-bit platforms
   The glibc getrlimit() and setrlimit() wrapper functions  use  a  64-bit
   rlim_t  data  type, even on 32-bit platforms.  However, the rlim_t data
   type used in the getrlimit() and setrlimit() system calls is a (32-bit)
   unsigned  long.   Furthermore,  in  Linux  versions  before 2.6.36, the
   kernel represents resource limits on 32-bit platforms as unsigned long.
   However,  a  32-bit  data  type is not wide enough.  The most pertinent
   limit here is RLIMIT_FSIZE, which specifies the maximum size to which a
   file  can  grow:  to  be useful, this limit must be represented using a
   type that is as wide as the type used to  represent  file  offsets---that
   is,  as  wide  as  a  64-bit  off_t  (assuming  a program compiled with

   To work around this kernel limitation, if a  program  tried  to  set  a
   resource  limit  to  a value larger than can be represented in a 32-bit
   unsigned long, then the glibc  setrlimit()  wrapper  function  silently
   converted  the  limit  value  to  RLIM_INFINITY.   In  other words, the
   requested resource limit setting was silently ignored.

   This problem was addressed in Linux 2.6.36 with two principal changes:

   *  the addition of a new kernel representation of resource limits  that
      uses 64 bits, even on 32-bit platforms;

   *  the  addition  of  the  prlimit()  system call, which employs 64-bit
      values for its resource limit arguments.

   Since  version  2.13,  glibc  works  around  the  limitations  of   the
   getrlimit()  and  setrlimit()  system calls by implementing setrlimit()
   and getrlimit() as wrapper functions that call prlimit().


   The program below demonstrates the use of prlimit().

   #define _GNU_SOURCE
   #define _FILE_OFFSET_BITS 64
   #include <stdio.h>
   #include <time.h>
   #include <stdlib.h>
   #include <unistd.h>
   #include <sys/resource.h>

   #define errExit(msg)                                do { perror(msg); exit(EXIT_FAILURE); \
                           } while (0)

   main(int argc, char *argv[])
       struct rlimit old, new;
       struct rlimit *newp;
       pid_t pid;

       if (!(argc == 2 || argc == 4)) {
           fprintf(stderr, "Usage: %s <pid> [<new-soft-limit> "
                   "<new-hard-limit>]\n", argv[0]);

       pid = atoi(argv[1]);        /* PID of target process */

       newp = NULL;
       if (argc == 4) {
           new.rlim_cur = atoi(argv[2]);
           new.rlim_max = atoi(argv[3]);
           newp = &new;

       /* Set CPU time limit of target process; retrieve and display
          previous limit */

       if (prlimit(pid, RLIMIT_CPU, newp, &old) == -1)
       printf("Previous limits: soft=%lld; hard=%lld\n",
               (long long) old.rlim_cur, (long long) old.rlim_max);

       /* Retrieve and display new CPU time limit */

       if (prlimit(pid, RLIMIT_CPU, NULL, &old) == -1)
       printf("New limits: soft=%lld; hard=%lld\n",
               (long long) old.rlim_cur, (long long) old.rlim_max);



   prlimit(1), dup(2), fcntl(2), fork(2), getrusage(2), mlock(2), mmap(2),
   open(2),   quotactl(2),  sbrk(2),  shmctl(2),  malloc(3),  sigqueue(3),
   ulimit(3),  core(5),   capabilities(7),   credentials(7),   cgroups(7),


   This  page  is  part of release 4.09 of the Linux man-pages project.  A
   description of the project, information about reporting bugs,  and  the
   latest     version     of     this    page,    can    be    found    at


Personal Opportunity - Free software gives you access to billions of dollars of software at no cost. Use this software for your business, personal use or to develop a profitable skill. Access to source code provides access to a level of capabilities/information that companies protect though copyrights. Open source is a core component of the Internet and it is available to you. Leverage the billions of dollars in resources and capabilities to build a career, establish a business or change the world. The potential is endless for those who understand the opportunity.

Business Opportunity - Goldman Sachs, IBM and countless large corporations are leveraging open source to reduce costs, develop products and increase their bottom lines. Learn what these companies know about open source and how open source can give you the advantage.

Free Software

Free Software provides computer programs and capabilities at no cost but more importantly, it provides the freedom to run, edit, contribute to, and share the software. The importance of free software is a matter of access, not price. Software at no cost is a benefit but ownership rights to the software and source code is far more significant.

Free Office Software - The Libre Office suite provides top desktop productivity tools for free. This includes, a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation engine, drawing and flowcharting, database and math applications. Libre Office is available for Linux or Windows.

Free Books

The Free Books Library is a collection of thousands of the most popular public domain books in an online readable format. The collection includes great classical literature and more recent works where the U.S. copyright has expired. These books are yours to read and use without restrictions.

Source Code - Want to change a program or know how it works? Open Source provides the source code for its programs so that anyone can use, modify or learn how to write those programs themselves. Visit the GNU source code repositories to download the source.


Study at Harvard, Stanford or MIT - Open edX provides free online courses from Harvard, MIT, Columbia, UC Berkeley and other top Universities. Hundreds of courses for almost all major subjects and course levels. Open edx also offers some paid courses and selected certifications.

Linux Manual Pages - A man or manual page is a form of software documentation found on Linux/Unix operating systems. Topics covered include computer programs (including library and system calls), formal standards and conventions, and even abstract concepts.