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so what i did:
in the terminal i typed:

sudo su 

(used pass) then typed:

nano /etc/security/limits.conf

went to bottom and added:
USER - nice -20
(with my username not user and i spaced it properly)
then i restarted my comp, but it still didnt work

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Reading this link, I think you need not issue the command as su. You can simply run the ulimit -a command.

Although reading the man page for ulimit, it says that this routine is obsolete and you should use getrlimit, setrlimit and sysconf instead.

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ive followed the link you sent me, but when i go to the system monitor and try to change the niceness of things all i get back is an error: Cannot change the priority of process with PID 2190 to -20. Permission denied – Nathaniel de Vries Nov 3 '12 at 6:47
Did you try the getrlimit, setrlimit and sysconf commands? You'll need to read the man pages first. In a terminal, type man setrlimit then press the Enter key, and use the 'q' key to exit the man page. – Clive van Hilten Nov 3 '12 at 9:27
thank you this helped – Nathaniel de Vries Nov 4 '12 at 8:56
If it solved the problem, please accept it as an answer by clicking the tick symbol. – Clive van Hilten Nov 4 '12 at 10:11

The <item> you're looking for is priority which sets the default priority to run a user's processes with, not nice.

nice is the MAX nice priority allowed, not default.

I recommend using top or renice to change a process's priority for one time.

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