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Subject[PATCH] cgroup: add documentation for the PIDs controller
The attached patch adds documentation concerning the PIDs controller.
This should be applied alongside the rest of this patchset[1].



Add documentation derived from kernel/cgroup_pids.c to the relevant
Documentation/ directory, along with a few examples of how to use the
PIDs controller as well an explanation of its peculiarities.

Signed-off-by: Aleksa Sarai <>
Documentation/cgroups/00-INDEX | 2 +
Documentation/cgroups/pids.txt | 85 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
2 files changed, 87 insertions(+)
create mode 100644 Documentation/cgroups/pids.txt

diff --git a/Documentation/cgroups/00-INDEX b/Documentation/cgroups/00-INDEX
index 96ce071..3f5a40f 100644
--- a/Documentation/cgroups/00-INDEX
+++ b/Documentation/cgroups/00-INDEX
@@ -22,6 +22,8 @@ net_cls.txt
- Network classifier cgroups details and usages.
- Network priority cgroups details and usages.
+ - Process number cgroups details and usages.
- Resource Counter API.
diff --git a/Documentation/cgroups/pids.txt b/Documentation/cgroups/pids.txt
new file mode 100644
index 0000000..1a078b5
--- /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/cgroups/pids.txt
@@ -0,0 +1,85 @@
+ Process Number Controller
+ =========================
+The process number controller is used to allow a cgroup hierarchy to stop any
+new tasks from being fork()'d or clone()'d after a certain limit is reached.
+Since it is trivial to hit the task limit without hitting any kmemcg limits in
+place, PIDs are a fundamental resource. As such, PID exhaustion must be
+preventable in the scope of a cgroup hierarchy by allowing resource limiting of
+the number of tasks in a cgroup.
+In order to use the `pids` controller, set the maximum number of tasks in
+pids.max (this is not available in the root cgroup for obvious reasons). The
+number of processes currently in the cgroup is given by pids.current.
+Organisational operations are not blocked by cgroup policies, so it is possible
+to have pids.current > pids.max. This can be done by either setting the limit to
+be smaller than pids.current, or attaching enough processes to the cgroup such
+that pids.current > pids.max. However, it is not possible to violate a cgroup
+policy through fork() or clone(). fork() and clone() will return -EAGAIN if the
+creation of a new process would cause a cgroup policy to be violated.
+To set a cgroup to have no limit, set pids.max to "max". This is the default for
+all new cgroups (N.B. that PID limits are hierarchical, so the most stringent
+limit in the hierarchy is followed).
+pids.current tracks all child cgroup hierarchies, so parent/pids.current is a
+superset of parent/child/pids.current.
+First, we mount the pids controller:
+# mkdir -p /sys/fs/cgroup/pids
+# mount -t cgroup -o pids none /sys/fs/cgroup/pids
+Then we create a hierarchy, set limits and attach processes to it:
+# mkdir -p /sys/fs/cgroup/pids/parent/child
+# echo 2 > /sys/fs/cgroup/pids/parent/pids.max
+# echo $$ > /sys/fs/cgroup/pids/parent/cgroup.procs
+# cat /sys/fs/cgroup/pids/parent/pids.current
+It should be noted that attempts to overcome the set limit (2 in this case) will
+# cat /sys/fs/cgroup/pids/parent/pids.current
+# ( /bin/echo "Here's some processes for you." | cat )
+sh: fork: Resource temporary unavailable
+Even if we migrate to a child cgroup (which doesn't have a set limit), we will
+not be able to overcome the most stringent limit in the hierarchy (in this case,
+# echo $$ > /sys/fs/cgroup/pids/parent/child/cgroup.procs
+# cat /sys/fs/cgroup/pids/parent/pids.current
+# cat /sys/fs/cgroup/pids/parent/child/pids.current
+# cat /sys/fs/cgroup/pids/parent/child/pids.max
+# ( /bin/echo "Here's some processes for you." | cat )
+sh: fork: Resource temporary unavailable
+We can set a limit that is smaller than pids.current, which will stop any new
+processes from being forked at all (note that the shell itself counts towards
+# echo 1 > /sys/fs/cgroup/pids/parent/pids.max
+# /bin/echo "We can't even spawn a single process now."
+sh: fork: Resource temporary unavailable
+# echo 0 > /sys/fs/cgroup/pids/parent/pids.max
+# /bin/echo "We can't even spawn a single process now."
+sh: fork: Resource temporary unavailable

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