Is there anyway to exclude some users from the out-of- memory killer in Unix? On the other way, can I set priority for user?

1 Answer 1


There is no way to instruct OOM to ignore specific user processes. Though you can instruct it to ignore a specific process and based on that you can construct a loop which will check all processes for specific user and update it via cron or whatever way you like. Cycle itself will look something like that:

while read r_pid ; do 
    echo -16 | sudo tee /proc/$r_pid/oom_adj ; 
done < <(pgrep -U Yoki)

you can wrap it in script and schedule to be run once per minute or any interval you like.

or you can completely disable OOM with

sysctl vm.overcommit_memory=2
echo "vm.overcommit_memory=2" >> /etc/sysctl.conf

though it is not recommended way at all, as it might lead to unexpected behaviour such as kernel panics or system hang.

  • 1
    Change -17 to something like -16 and the user's processes will be picked before other "critical" system processes.
    – Otheus
    Jun 15, 2015 at 20:50
  • Good point. Updated. Thx.
    – rush
    Jun 15, 2015 at 20:51
  • There's nothing wrong with setting overcommit_memory=2, it's just that certain applications (java, browsers) try to gobble up more virtual memory than is available, so they fail. You might actually run out of memory, so monitor swap with a monitoring program, and if swap usage begins to climb, it might be a problem.
    – Otheus
    Jun 15, 2015 at 20:53

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