For some reason our open files ulimit (-n) is getting changes to 256 when it should be 1024. I tried searching for limit in /var/log/{system.log,secure.log} but didn't see anything useful. Any idea how to find out what changed the ulimit? Mac OS X (essentially FreeBSD Unix)

1 Answer 1


It's not logged if it was done via a program or install script. To my knowledge it is only logged if it was done by elevating permissions.

Some common ways to set ulimit are in:

  • /etc/sysctl.conf
  • /etc/launchd.conf
  • /etc/profile

These methods would not really create log entries though, and would only take effect on reboot (or re-log for /etc/profile)

  • I realized the problem was I didnt know ulimits were now managed by launchctl and was using the ulimit command instead of launchctl to change them which is not persistent or effective. Dec 30, 2013 at 17:03
  • It's kind of a hierarchy. If sysctl is set to 500 then launchd can only go up to 500, and so on.
    – coteyr
    Dec 30, 2013 at 23:36

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