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Internal niceness levels are 0-39, but increments are positive or negative. Source. So the answer is that the numbers (positive and negative) accepted by the nice command are what get you from 20, the default level, to anywhere in the 0-39 range. So why 0-39? The specific range was what worked in the designers' original implementation. The reason more ...


Add the user to sudoers (actually, a new file in /etc/sudoers.d, but its the same premise): niceuser ALL=NOPASSWD:/usr/bin/nice Then, as the "niceuser": niceuser@localhost $ sudo nice -n -10 command... and it does what I need (that is, my user can now increase the priority of {command ...}). It supports multiple users, etc. - use man 5 sudoers for ...

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