I have a badly coded infinite looping program that I want to run on the command line - but not forever. I want to use ulimit so if it loops forever, it gets cut off.

I'm trying:

$> bash -c "ulimit -t 1; java myinfloopprogram"

but it's like nothing is happening. What's going on, is my commandline command wrong? myinfloopprogram runs just fine.

I'm running a terminal and the version is Ubuntu 9.10 .

  • Unbuntu? Is that the anti-Ubuntu? :)
    – user1804
    Commented Jan 25, 2010 at 22:17
  • It's not, like, sitting there for a second and then dying is it? Cause I think I might know what the problem is in that case ;-) Commented Jan 25, 2010 at 22:47

3 Answers 3


Is the looping program actually using CPU?

-t is for CPU time, not wall clock time, so if your program is not actually using any CPU time it won't be killed.

  • This is EXACTLY what it was, about two minutes of running = 1 second of CPU time for this program. Thanks!
    – rlb.usa
    Commented Jan 25, 2010 at 23:28

Maybe try something like this instead:

java myinfloopprogram &
for i in $(seq 1 60); do
    kill -0 $pid >/dev/null || break
    sleep 1
kill -0 $pid >/dev/null || kill -TERM $pid

ulimit is probably not what you need. You need some sort of bash timeout feature. There's nothing built into bash, but there are a few scripts floating around to do this. eg https://stackoverflow.com/questions/687948/timeout-a-command-in-bash-without-unnecessary-delay

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