I am not asking how to nice and renice a command on UNIX.

What happens is that on a particular machine into which I frequently log I am only allowed to run long-running processes with low priority (nice 19). Is there a way for all my commands on this machine to run as if I had "niced 19" them?

Inevitably I forget to prefix the command with "nice 19" when I start it, then need to go muck around in ps/top to locate the pid of my resource-hogging process and then renice it. Too much trouble, and I risk annoying the sysadmin; is there a way to do this by default?

many thanks! ~l

  • 2
    It sounds like this is a sysadmin type question, about using an operating system rather than programming. It may be better suited for superuser.com.
    – JAL
    Jul 21, 2010 at 0:31

4 Answers 4


Assuming Bash, if your system supports this feature, place this in your ~/.bashrc or ~/.profile:

ulimit -e 19

You can try it from a command line first as a test.


You might ask your sysadmin to look into adjusting limits.conf, a configuration file that is part of PAM and is located (on my Ubuntu system) in /etc/security.

A line like

@users hard priority 19

sets the default 'niceness' for processes started by user accounts.


This answer assumes your shell is bash.

Rather than mucking about in ps or top, just suspend the process(es) with Ctrl-z if they weren't launched that way (via &), and then run jobs -l to get a pid, renice that pid, and then continue the job's execution via bg (for BackGround) or fg (ForeGround).


Have you tried verynice? It's a bit old but still seems to be a program that might be excellent for your needs.

Update 2019-02-06: link updated.

  • Linky no worky no more. What was verynice?
    – Jé Queue
    Feb 6, 2019 at 16:27
  • 1
    Oh wow, 2010 called, it wanted its answer back. Link updated. :) Feb 6, 2019 at 17:01

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