setrlimit(2) control maximum system resource consumption

Other Alias



Lb libc


In sys/types.h In sys/time.h In sys/resource.h Ft int Fn getrlimit int resource struct rlimit *rlp Ft int Fn setrlimit int resource const struct rlimit *rlp


Limits on the consumption of system resources by the current process and each process it creates may be obtained with the Fn getrlimit system call, and set with the Fn setrlimit system call.

The Fa resource argument is one of the following:

The maximum amount (in bytes) of virtual memory the process is allowed to map.
The largest size (in bytes) core(5) file that may be created.
The maximum amount of cpu time (in seconds) to be used by each process.
The maximum size (in bytes) of the data segment for a process; this defines how far a program may extend its break with the sbrk(2) function.
The largest size (in bytes) file that may be created.
The maximum size (in bytes) which a process may lock into memory using the mlock(2) system call.
The maximum number of open files for this process.
The maximum number of simultaneous processes for this user id.
The maximum size (in bytes) to which a process's resident set size may grow. This imposes a limit on the amount of physical memory to be given to a process; if memory is tight, the system will prefer to take memory from processes that are exceeding their declared resident set size.
The maximum size (in bytes) of socket buffer usage for this user. This limits the amount of network memory, and hence the amount of mbufs, that this user may hold at any time.
The maximum size (in bytes) of the stack segment for a process; this defines how far a program's stack segment may be extended. Stack extension is performed automatically by the system.
The maximum size (in bytes) of the swap space that may be reserved or used by all of this user id's processes. This limit is enforced only if bit 1 of the vm.overcommit sysctl is set. Please see tuning(7) for a complete description of this sysctl.
The maximum number of pseudo-terminals created by this user id.

A resource limit is specified as a soft limit and a hard limit. When a soft limit is exceeded a process may receive a signal (for example, if the cpu time or file size is exceeded), but it will be allowed to continue execution until it reaches the hard limit (or modifies its resource limit). The Vt rlimit structure is used to specify the hard and soft limits on a resource,

struct rlimit {
        rlim_t  rlim_cur;       /* current (soft) limit */
        rlim_t  rlim_max;       /* maximum value for rlim_cur */

Only the super-user may raise the maximum limits. Other users may only alter Fa rlim_cur within the range from 0 to Fa rlim_max or (irreversibly) lower Fa rlim_max .

An ``infinite'' value for a limit is defined as RLIM_INFINITY

Because this information is stored in the per-process information, this system call must be executed directly by the shell if it is to affect all future processes created by the shell; limit is thus a built-in command to csh(1).

The system refuses to extend the data or stack space when the limits would be exceeded in the normal way: a brk(2) function fails if the data space limit is reached. When the stack limit is reached, the process receives a segmentation fault (SIGSEGV ) if this signal is not caught by a handler using the signal stack, this signal will kill the process.

A file I/O operation that would create a file larger that the process' soft limit will cause the write to fail and a signal SIGXFSZ to be generated; this normally terminates the process, but may be caught. When the soft cpu time limit is exceeded, a signal SIGXCPU is sent to the offending process.


Rv -std


The Fn getrlimit and Fn setrlimit system calls will fail if:

The address specified for Fa rlp is invalid.
The limit specified to Fn setrlimit would have raised the maximum limit value, and the caller is not the super-user.


The Fn getrlimit system call appeared in BSD 4.2