In this post there is some explanation about why does lsmod show -2 in 'used by' column. The idea is that the kernel config option CONFIG_MODULE_UNLOAD was not set.

But what if lsmod shows -1 only for one specific module while CONFIG_MODULE_UNLOAD is set in my current kernel? How to debug this muddle?

  • Does /sys/module/<module>/refcnt exist for that specific module? If so, what does it contain? Oct 10, 2018 at 9:13
  • @StephenKitt It contains -1 too.
    – z0lupka
    Oct 10, 2018 at 9:29

1 Answer 1


A module reference count of -1, visible both in /sys/module/<module>/refcnt and in lsmod’s output, means that the module is currently unloading.

If a module’s reference count stays at -1, that indicates a problem — dmesg should tell you more.

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