Limit CPU consumption of applications on Linux

One of the more frequent questions in support channels: How do I limit a specific application to not consume all my cpu time?

While it is generally a bad idea to limit applications in that department, it is indeed quite easy…

Install the tool cpulimit (most modern distributions should have a package ready in their repositories!) and launch it with the correct parameters:

cpulimit -P /usr/bin/foobar -l 10

The command above would wait for program /usr/bin/foobar to be started and limit the CPU consumption of the application to a maximum of 10%.

Note that without further configuration you’ll need to sudo cpulimit or start it as a root. The specified application can be started in a normal user context, though.

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