fabic974 random (binary) wanderings in the philament empires…

Linux limit [sub]process(s) maximum memory

Bash provides the shell builtin ulimit, and specifically ulimit -v <kBytes> which sets the maximum amount of virtual memory (i.e. heap) that it can allocate, and it so happens that sub-processes will inherit this value as well.

$ ulimit -v $((512*1024))

Quick test :

cat <<EOF | clang++ -x c++ - && ( echo HEY; ulimit -v $((512*1024)) ; ./a.out )
#include <iostream>
using namespace std;

int main() {
  cerr << "HEY";
  unsigned long amount = 0;
  const unsigned increment = 1024*1024;
  while(true) {
    char *buf = new char[ increment ];
    amount += increment;
    cerr << "\n" << amount << "        ";
    cerr << flush;
  return -1;
  • TODO: Find out how to do this by resorting to cgroups in an easy manner.
  • Note that sub-processes will inherit this same max. virtual memory limit, so we cannot restrict the maximum amount of memory of a whole process tree in this way.
  • Story: while doing some Jekyll dev. I ran into {{ site | jsonify }} freeze my whole system by consuming memory infinitely, certainly due to the fact that jsonify does not handle cycles. And I did it again when writing this line -_-.