Checking nproc limits

One of our Linux Compute Server was showing when a particular was attempting to login on.

failed to execute /bin/bash: resource temporarily unavailable

We suspected that nprocs limits have been breached by the particular user. I found this write-up very prescriptive of the issue I faced.

Extracting information via ps is not useful unless you use the “-L” to show threads, possibly LWP (light-weight process).


% ps h -LA -o user | sort | uniq -c | sort -n
1 chrony
1 dbus
1 libstoragemgmt
1 nobody
1 rpc
1 rpcuser
2 avahi
2 user3
2 postfix
3 colord
3 rtkit
4 user1
4 user2
7 polkitd
23 user4
31 user5
34 user6
361 user7
442 user8
556 gdm
563 user9
922 user10
16384 user11
3319 root

You can see that user11 has 16384 threads!

To dig down into what is happening to a selected user. We will use user2 since it has one of the fewest LWP to

% ps -o nlwp,pid,lwp,args -u user2 | sort -n
1 272705 272705 sshd: user2@pts/12
1 273054 273054 sshd: user2@notty
1 273216 273216 /usr/libexec/openssh/sftp-server
1 273406 273406 -bash

nlwp – Number of LWP
lwp – Process of ID of the LWP.

To eliminate the offending user11’s thousands of threads

% pkill -KILL -u user11


  1. Linux: how to monitor the nproc limit
  2. How is the nproc hard limit calculated and how do we change the value on CentOS 7

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