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HP-UX 11i Version 3: February 2007

Technical documentation

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ulimit() — get and set user limits


#include <ulimit.h>

long ulimit(int cmd, ...);


The ANSI C ", ..." construct denotes a variable length argument list whose optional [or required] members are given in the associated comment (/* */).


ulimit() provides for control over process limits. Available values for cmd are:


Get the file size limit of the process. The limit is in units of 512-byte blocks and is inherited by child processes. Files of any size can be read. The optional second argument is not used.


Set the file size limit of the process to the value of the optional second argument which is taken as a long. Any process can decrease this limit, but only a process with the LIMIT privilege can increase the limit. Note that the limit must be specified in units of 512-byte blocks.


Get the maximum possible break value (see brk(2)). Depending on system resources such as swap space, this maximum might not be attainable at a given time. The optional second argument is not used.

Security Restrictions

Some or all of the actions associated with this system call require the LIMIT privilege. Processes owned by the superuser have this privilege. Processes owned by other users may have this privilege, depending on system configuration. See privileges(5) for more information about privileged access on systems that support fine-grained privileges.


Upon successful completion, a non-negative value is returned. Errors return a -1, with errno set to indicate the error.


ulimit() fails if one or more of the following conditions is true.


cmd is not in the correct range.


ulimit() fails and the limit is unchanged if a process without the LIMIT privilege attempts to increase its file size limit.


ulimit(): AES, SVID2, SVID3, XPG2, XPG3, XPG4

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