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I am trying to use /etc/security/limit.conf on Linux (Debian) to limit the number of processes per user.

for starters, I tried to limit my own user processes by adding this to /etc/security/limit.conf:

omry hard nproc 100

this locked my user out of ssh. I could open new processes (verified with su omry), but could not log into ssh with that user : sshd reported this in it's log:

fatal: setreuid 1000: Resource temporarily unavailable

also, I am certain my user is not running anything near 100 processes (actually 6). what can be the reason for this?

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noproc not nproc Did you read the man page? – user72856 Mar 2 '11 at 21:29
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I now know that Java threads also count as processes. It's likely that I had a Java server that used that many threads.

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