I am launching non interactive jobs using batch, and I would like to increase the load limiting factor in order to use all 8 of my cores. I am on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

From what I understand, batch uses atd to do the jobs. Jobs start when the load factor goes under a threshold, called the load limiting factor. It is said in the man of atd that we can change this factor using the -l option.

My question: how can I use this atd -l XX option? When I type, for instance, atd -l 7.2 before batch, it doesn't seem to be changing anything.

What I have found so far:

It seems that it can be introduced in the /etc/init.d/atd, but I do not know where. I have never changed such files.

So, how can I change the load limiting factor used by the batch command?


Found a solution:

  • Create a file: /etc/init/atd.override
  • Add a line exec atd -l 7.2
  • Then sudo service atd restart

It has to do with how the 'Upstart init daemon' works. Explanations there: http://linux.die.net/man/5/init If the file /etc/init/atd.override already exists with an line starting with exec, edit this line.


Edit /lib/systemd/system/atd.service on Ubuntu 16.04 / systemd.

After appending -l «load avg» to the ExecStart:

$ cat /lib/systemd/system/atd.service 
Description=Deferred execution scheduler

ExecStart=/usr/sbin/atd -f -l 7.2


you'll see a message when running systemctl status atd or (service atd status):

Warning: atd.service changed on disk. Run 'systemctl daemon-reload' to reload units.

Running that command gets rid of the warning, but to actually pick up the change the service needs to be restarted by systemctl restart atd (service atd restart).

  • Nice answer! One point though: instead of editing units in /lib/systemd..., it's recommended to copy the files over to /etc/systemd/... and edit the copy (the unit in /etc/systemd will override the unit in /lib/systemd).
    – lgeorget
    Sep 6 '18 at 15:17

I don't have Ubuntu 16.04 LTS nearby, but on Debian-based system /etc/init.d/atd will usually say something like:

case "$1" in
        log_daemon_msg "Starting deferred execution scheduler" "atd"
        start_daemon -p $PIDFILE $DAEMON -l 7
        log_end_msg $?

note where I added -l 7 part. Then you need to restart with /etc/init.d/atd restart, and check with ps auxwww|grep atd if it was accepted.

note that sometimes you'll have /etc/default/atd which is the easier way (and better, as your changes won't be silently wiped on next upgrade)

  • 1
    The file /etc/init.d/atd does not have something like that. Your answer helps me realize that editing this file was not the solution for Ubuntu, at least from version 12.04 LTS. I finally found a solution, cf the answer.
    – ciliou
    Aug 31 '16 at 12:53

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