Is there a way in Linux to give a specific application more/less priority for network bandwidth? Something like how nice does for CPU priority.

Context: I'm currently on a very low bandwidth connection (3G dongle). While I'm performing a quite large upgrade using aptitude, it becomes virtually impossible to browse the web since the upgrade download is hogging my Internet connection.

So what I would like to do is somehow decrease the network bandwidth priority of the aptitude process (and all its children) so that it won't use too much bandwidth while another process is using it.

  • Does aptitude use a specific port for its connections? If so, you can set the priority of that port lower using QoS in your router (if your router has that capability).
    – MaQleod
    Jul 12, 2011 at 0:55
  • @MaQleod: 1) No, it uses HTTP for its downloads. 2) Since I'm on a 3G network, I don't have a router (well, not one I can access anyway).
    – mtvec
    Jul 12, 2011 at 6:39
  • I would just rate limit the download speed of aptitude/apt instead of trying to play with its priority. Set it to a half of your max bandwidth to leave some for browsing. I've tried to state my reason for not playing with QoS in the comment to Catalin's answer.
    – vtest
    Dec 5, 2011 at 13:33

1 Answer 1


You can use force_bind to set a priority for all sockets of an application, and then, using Linux QoS (tc command), you can assign applications to a priority band. Check the README file for an example.


Disclaimer: I am the author.


14: Force priority (between 0 and 6 for non-root users). You can
        use 'tc' command from iproute to set-up 'prio' qdisc and to
        assign prio to queues:
        # 0. setup
        export FORCE_NET_VERBOSE=1
        export LD_PRELOAD=${LD_PRELOAD}:/usr/lib/force_bind.so
        # 1. Make sure you have a 'prio' qdisc attached to eth0, for example:
        tc qdisc add ev eth0 root handle 1: prio
        # 2. Assign applications to classed (bands):
        export FORCE_NET_PRIO=6 # interactive, band 0
        export FORCE_NET_PRIO=0 # best effort, band 1
        export FORCE_NET_PRIO=2 # bulk, band 2
        # 3. Run tc statistics so you can see the classification:
        tc -s class show dev eth0

Of course, you may use htb or any other qdisc.

  • 3
    Thanks for the disclaimer! In the spirit of Super User, it would be great if you could provide the example here for all to see!
    – slhck
    Aug 23, 2011 at 8:54
  • 1
    Downloading generates incoming traffic. QoS can policy outgoing traffic, it can't control the amount of incoming data. For this to work, it is needed to control the router between the host and the internet.
    – vtest
    Dec 5, 2011 at 13:28
  • 2
    trickle (available at least in ubuntu and debian) will do that for you as well, and might be a bit easier to use: trickle -d 1 -u 1 aptitude. Numbers are kilobytes.
    – taneli
    Feb 17, 2012 at 12:25
  • 1
    Regarding incoming traffic, is it possible to make certain types of incoming traffic have higher priority over other types even if you cannot control the router? @vtest Jul 21, 2014 at 12:18
  • 3
    @taneli: trickle can be use to setup a bandwidth limit, but it cannot be used to define priorities between processes
    – a3nm
    Oct 11, 2015 at 16:27

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