I'm getting an error message in the Mac Terminal when I try to run several different processes. I did some googling and looking on this site, and found out that it might be related to having too many processes running at one time. However, I'm getting these error messages when I only have a few windows open (much fewer than I was accustomed to having). Looking in activity Monitor, my %User number is at around 25%, and the %System number is around 15%. In the past, I have had both much much higher (until the people at the Apple store told me to keep an eye on it). So with these numbers lower now, what explains the Resource temporarily unavailable error message?

heroku (cloud hosting) console

-bash: fork: Resource temporarily unavailable -bash-3.2$ 

upon opening new window in the terminal

sh: fork: Resource temporarily unavailable
sh: fork: Resource temporarily unavailable

trying to run

-bash: fork: Resource temporarily unavailable

  • What's your output of ulimit -a? – user3463 Oct 23 '12 at 16:17
  • 1
    What's the output of ps aux | wc -l ? – Darth Android Oct 23 '12 at 16:18
  • Have you ever altered your shell's configuration? Have you rebooted the machine already? Does the issue persist on another user account? – slhck Oct 23 '12 at 16:18
  • ps aux | wc -l = 58, max user processes (-u) 266 – user167108 Oct 23 '12 at 16:56

The thing to keep in mind is that processes are not the same as windows. You may have a single process with many windows, or many processes with no windows at all. I'd agree this sounds like you have too many processes open.

Try rebooting the machine. This will at the very least shut down all the extra processes. If it recurs, then you need to investigate what exactly is spawning all these processes and not closing them.

In your Activity Monitor, change the dropdown at the top to All Processes and look at what is running. If you see the same process listed 10, 20, 50, or more times, then that is likely your culprit. (Some applications, like Google Chrome, do spawn many processes in normal operation. You should not have more instances than you do tabs, however).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.