Scroll to navigation

CPULIMIT(1) User commands CPULIMIT(1)


cpulimit -- limits the CPU usage of a process


cpulimit [TARGET] [OPTIONS...] [ -- PROGRAM]


TARGET must be exactly one of these:

pid of the process
name of the executable program file
absolute path name of the executable program file


run cpulimit in the background, freeing up the terminal
run cpulimit in foreground while waiting for launched process to finish
specify the number of CPU cores available. Usually this is detected for us.
percentage of CPU allowed from 1 up. Usually 1 - 100, but can be higher on multi-core CPUs. (mandatory)
Runs in quiet mode, avoids writing update messages to console.
kill target process instead of throttling its CPU usage
watch and throttle child processes of the target process Warning: It is usually a bad idea to use this flag, especially on a shell script. The commands in the script will each spawn a process which will, in turn, spawn more copies of this program to throttle them, bogging down the system. Also, it is possible for a child process to die and for its PID to be assigned to another program. When this happens quickly it can cause cpulimit to target the new, unintended process before the old information has had a chance to be flushed out. Only use the monitor-forks option in specific cases, ideally on machines without a lot of new processes being spawned.
restore a process killed using the -k flag.
send an alternative signal to the watched process when we exit. Default is SIGCONT.
show control statistics
exit if there is no suitable target process, or if it dies
This is the final CPUlimit option. All following options are for another program we will launch.
display this help and exit


Assuming you have started `foo --bar` and you find out with top(1) or ps(1) that this process uses all your CPU time you can either

# cpulimit -e foo -l 50
limits the CPU usage of the process by acting on the executable program file (note: the argument "--bar" is omitted)
# cpulimit -p 1234 -l 50
limits the CPU usage of the process by acting on its PID, as shown by ps(1)
# cpulimit -P /usr/bin/foo -l 50
same as -e but uses the absolute path name
# /usr/bin/someapp
# cpulimit -p $! -l 25 -b
Useful for scripts where you want to throttle the last command run.
# cpulimit -l 20 firefox
Launch Firefox web browser and limit its CPU usage to 20%
# cpulimit -l 25 -- firefox -private
Launch Firefox web browser in private mode and limit its CPU usage to 25%
# cpulimit -c 2 -p 12345 -l 25
The -c flag sets the number of CPU cores the program thinks are available. Usually this is detected for us, but can be over-ridden.
# cpulimit -l 20 -k firefox
Launch the Firefox program and kill it if the process goes over 20% CPU usage.
# cpulimit -l 20 -p 1234 -s SIGTERM
Throttle process 1234 at 20% CPU usage. If cpulimit is forced to exit, it sends the watched process the SIGTERM signal.


  • cpulimit always sends the SIGSTOP and SIGCONT signals to a process, both to verify that it can control it and to limit the average amount of CPU it consumes. This can result in misleading (annoying) job control messages that indicate that the job has been stopped (when actually it was, but immediately restarted). This can also cause issues with interactive shells that detect or otherwise depend on SIGSTOP/SIGCONT. For example, you may place a job in the foreground, only to see it immediately stopped and restarted in the background. (See also <>.)
  • When invoked with the -e or -P options, cpulimit looks for any process under /proc with a name that matches the process name argument given. Furthermore, it uses the first instance of the process found. To control a specific instance of a process, use the -p option and provide a PID.
  • The current version of cpulimit assumes the kernel HZ value 100.


This manpage was written for the Debian project by gregor herrmann <> but may be used by others.

June 2012 cpulimit