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How To Apply limits.conf Settings Immediately Without Reboot Linux System?

The /etc/security/limits.conf file is installed by PAM package (Pluggable Authentication Modules for Linux).

Precisely, this limits.conf is used by pam_limits module to control the limit of system resource available to respective user accounts, such as maximum core file size, maximum number of open files, maximum CPU time, maximum number of processes, maximum number of login, etc.

After making changes in limits.conf file, the new settings can only become effective after a system reboot.

If you desperately want to make new ulimit settings in limits.conf file become effective but can’t afford to reboot the Linux system immediately, you may login as root and restart the init process (i.e. the master Linux process identified by PID 1 in the ps command output):
kill -HUP 1

I’ve tested this trick on RHEL 5.2 of a staging server and haven’t observed any abnormal signs. Anyway, I can’t warrant the safety of using this trick on your site – please use it at your own risk!

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