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SubjectFile Descriptors per process in 2.2.x

What is the correct way to raise the number of descriptors a process can
have from the default of 1024?

If I try to set it higher than 1024 using limit -n xxxx, it says,
"ulimit: bad limit: Operation not permitted".

I tried changing:

#define NR_OPEN 1024

.. to:

#define NR_OPEN 2048

... Then recompiled, the kernel booted up to a point but after mounting
swap space the machine seemed to hang with messages like:

get unused fd 0 not NULL.

Is there some other way to tweak this? Or is there something else I have
to bump up when I bump up NR_OPEN? This is for a web server with a bunch of
virtual domains, each domain eats 3 descriptors.


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