How do you permanently set process limit per user (ulimit -u) in Ubuntu?

2 Answers 2


Edit /etc/security/limits.conf and configure nprocs appropriately.

You may need to add pam_limits to your pam configuration. The default configuration has pam_limits configured for many services. You may want to add pam_limits to /etc/pam.d/common-session.

  • I think you may need to make some changes in /etc/pam.d as well.
    – belacqua
    Apr 11, 2011 at 18:17
  • I'm not 100% sure the PAM changes are still required, but they used to be -- was trying to grok some related bug reports, but it'd be easier to test it, I think.
    – belacqua
    Apr 11, 2011 at 18:30
  • 2
    @jgbelacqua: They are there for all the common login methods (login, sum sudo, and *dm) methods as well as cron methods for 10.4 and 10.10.
    – BillThor
    Apr 11, 2011 at 18:34
  • A better description of this solution here: askubuntu.com/a/162230/119284
    – e_x_p
    Jan 6, 2013 at 19:16

Edit /etc/security/limits.conf, making changes per the examples and for the limits you want.

You'll also need to add a line to the /etc/pam.d/common-session file:

session required pam_limits.so

The change to PAM modules may be necessary elsewhere, but generally, common-session is included related configurations, e.g.,

$ grep common-session /etc/pam.d/sshd :     

   sshd:@include common-session
  • Thank you, I'll vote up your answer when I get enought points :)
    – redman
    Apr 11, 2011 at 18:34

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