Chapter 34. Setting the priority for a process with library calls

download PDF

You can set the priority for a process using the chrt utility.


  • You have administrator privileges.

34.1. Library calls for setting priority

Real-time processes use a different set of library calls to control policy and priority. The following library calls are used to set the priority of non-real-time processes.

  • nice
  • setpriority

These functions adjust the nice value of a non-real-time process. The nice value serves as a suggestion to the scheduler on how to order the list of ready-to-run, non-real-time processes to be run on a processor. The processes at the head of the list run before the ones further down the list.


The functions require the inclusion of the sched.h header file. Ensure you always check the return codes from functions.

34.2. Setting the process priority using a library call

The scheduler policy and other parameters can be set using the sched_setscheduler() function. Currently, real-time policies have one parameter, sched_priority. This parameter is used to adjust the priority of the process.

The sched_setscheduler() function requires three parameters, in the form: sched_setscheduler(pid_t pid, int policy, const struct sched_param *sp);.


The sched_setscheduler(2) man page lists all possible return values of sched_setscheduler(), including the error codes.

If the process ID is zero, the sched_setscheduler() function acts on the calling process.

The following code excerpt sets the scheduler policy of the current process to the SCHED_FIFO scheduler policy and the priority to 50:

struct sched_param sp = { .sched_priority = 50 };
int ret;

ret = sched_setscheduler(0, SCHED_FIFO, &sp);
if (ret == -1) {
  return 1;

34.3. Setting the process priority parameter using a library call

The sched_setparam() function is used to set the scheduling parameters of a particular process. This can then be verified using the sched_getparam() function.

Unlike the sched_getscheduler() function, which only returns the scheduling policy, the sched_getparam() function returns all scheduling parameters for the given process.


Use the following code excerpt that reads the priority of a given real-time process and increments it by two:

struct sched_param sp;
int ret;

ret = sched_getparam(0, &sp);
sp.sched_priority += 2;
ret = sched_setparam(0, &sp);

If this code were used in a real application, it would need to check the return values from the function and handle any errors appropriately.


Be careful with incrementing priorities. Continually adding two to the scheduler priority, as in this example, might eventually lead to an invalid priority.

34.4. Setting the scheduling policy and associated attributes for a process

The sched_setattr() function sets the scheduling policy and its associated attributes for an instance ID specified in PID. When pid=0, sched_setattr() acts on the process and attributes of the calling thread.


  • Call sched_setattr() specifying the process ID on which the call acts and one of the following real-time scheduling policies:

Real-time scheduling policies

Schedules a first-in and first-out policy.
Schedules a round-robin policy.
Schedules a deadline scheduling policy.

Linux also supports the following non-real-time scheduling policies:

Non-real-time scheduling policies

Schedules the standard round-robin time-sharing policy.
Schedules a “batch" style execution of processes.

Schedules very low priority background jobs. SCHED_IDLE can be used only at static priority 0, and the nice value has no influence for this policy.

This policy is intended for running jobs at extremely low priority (lower than a +19 nice value using SCHED_OTHER or SCHED_BATCH policies).

34.5. Additional resources

Red Hat logoGithubRedditYoutubeTwitter


Try, buy, & sell


About Red Hat Documentation

We help Red Hat users innovate and achieve their goals with our products and services with content they can trust.

Making open source more inclusive

Red Hat is committed to replacing problematic language in our code, documentation, and web properties. For more details, see the Red Hat Blog.

About Red Hat

We deliver hardened solutions that make it easier for enterprises to work across platforms and environments, from the core datacenter to the network edge.

© 2024 Red Hat, Inc.