sysctl – Dynamically Modify the Operating Parameters of the Kernel

The sysctl command is used in Linux systems to modify the operating parameters of the kernel dynamically. It allows you to view and modify kernel variables at runtime, without having to reboot your system. The command is useful for tweaking system performance and for troubleshooting issues related to system resources.


The sysctl command is used to view and modify kernel variables. To view the current value of a kernel variable, use the command sysctl <variable name>. To modify the value of a kernel variable, use the command sysctl -w <variable name>=<value>.

For example, to view the current value of the maximum number of open files allowed by the system, use the command:

sysctl fs.file-max

To modify this value to 100000, use the command:

sysctl -w fs.file-max=100000

The sysctl command can also be used to load kernel modules at runtime. To load a kernel module, use the command sysctl -p <file>, where <file> is the path to the file containing the module parameters.


The sysctl command has several options that can be used to control its behavior. The following table lists the available options:

Option Description
-a Display all kernel variables
-e Ignore errors when reading from files
-n Do not print the variable name when displaying values
-p Load kernel parameters from a file
-q Do not display anything
-r Display the raw value of the variable
-w Write a new value to the variable

Troubleshooting Tips

If you encounter issues with the sysctl command, here are some troubleshooting tips:

  • If you receive a “Permission denied” error, try running the command as root or using the sudo command.
  • If you receive a “No such file or directory” error when using the -p option, make sure the file exists and that you have permission to read it.
  • If you are not sure what a particular kernel variable does, consult the documentation or do some research before modifying it.


  • Be careful when modifying kernel variables, as changing the wrong value can cause system instability or even data loss.
  • Changes made with the sysctl command are not persistent across reboots. To make changes persistent, you will need to modify the appropriate configuration files.