I'm running a python script which uses networkx package to run some algorithms on graphs.

the script is

import networkx as nx
from networkx.algorithms.approximation import clique

G = nx.read_adjlist("newman_one_mode.adj")
print "the number of nodes in the graph is: " + str(G.number_of_nodes())
max_clique_nodes = clique.max_clique(G)
print "the clique nodes are: " + str(max_clique_nodes)

It takes a long time and has high cpu usage (99%), so I want to limit its cpu usage.

I used cpulimit on this process to limit the cpu usage to 60%

cpulimit -p 29780 -l 60

however, when I use it, the process got STOPPED, as below

[lily@geland academic]$ python run.py
the number of nodes in the graph is: 16264

[1]+  Stopped                 python run.py

what is wrong and how to deal with such situations? thanks!

side information: if I don't run cpulimit, the process runs for a long time and then got killed, I don't know why, maybe it is due to resource being used up.

[lily@geland academic]$ python run.py
the number of nodes in the graph is: 16264
[1]+  Terminated              python run.py

3 Answers 3


That's expected behavior.

cpulimit suspends the process when it consumes too much CPU resource and resume the process after a certain amount of time.

Also check if your script is waiting for input? If so, your script will enter a stopped state as well.

Try redirect stdin and run cpulimit again, e.g python run.py < /dev/null &

  • no, there seems no waiting for input
    – lily
    Apr 10, 2014 at 16:30

You'd probably be better off with nice as the way cpulimit is a bit of a hack and may play poorly with shell job control and other mechanisms.

Since nice is a capability of the operating system which alters the scheduling priorities, this is much smoother than what cpulimit does which is allow a process to run as fast as it wants until it has exceeded a percentage after which it gets a SIGSTOP, followed by a sleep, and a SIGCONT.

As a simple example, consider this "copy a bunch of zeros to nowhere" shell script:

$ cat waster
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/null count=${1}000000

$ time ./waster 5     # takes about 3.7 seconds on my machine
$ time ./waster 10    # takes about 7.4 seconds, no surprise

now run them at the same time:

$ time ./waster 5 & time ./waster 10 &

these take 7.1 seconds and 11.1 seconds because they are fighting for the CPU. But if I add nice

$ time ./waster 5 & time nice -n 19 ./waster 10 &

then the first takes about 4.0 seconds and the nice one takes 12.9 seconds because the nice one takes the lowest possible priority allowing the first to take most every bit of CPU it can. And no process gets STOPped at any point.

  • can you explain a little about the "&" in $ time ./waster 5 & time ./waster 10 & ? thanks
    – lily
    Apr 11, 2014 at 14:36
  • @lily & allows you to continue writting to console, but, if you run any program with "output" (stdout) you'll see mixed with your current shell text or program, so is better to redirect to null everything with > /dev/null 2>&1. I really would suggest you to try commands on a terminal instead of asking, it's far better and faster.
    – m3nda
    Jan 4, 2016 at 13:20

From the manpage:

cpulimit always sends the SIGSTOP and SIGCONT signals to a process, both to verify that it can control it and to limit the average amount of CPU it consumes. This can result in misleading (annoying) job control messages that indicate that the job has been stopped (when actually it was, but immediately restarted). This can also cause issues with interactive shells that detect or otherwise depend on SIGSTOP/SIGCONT. For example, you may place a job in the foreground, only to see it immediately stopped and restarted in the background.

Source: http://manpages.ubuntu.com/manpages/xenial/man1/cpulimit.1.html

→ that means it is a problem with you shell, that the process continues to run in the background but your shell is not attached.

Depending on what you want to achieve, you could i.e. redirect the output to a file, if you depend on the output or reattach your shell if you need an interactive session.

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