Appearance move to sidebar hide

Original author(s)v1: Paul Menage, Rohit Seth, Memory Controller by Balbir Singh, CPU controller by Srivatsa Vaddagiri
v2: Tejun Heo
Developer(s)Tejun Heo, Johannes Weiner, Michal Hocko, Waiman Long, Roman Gushchin, Chris Down et al.
Initial release2007 (2007)
Written inC
Operating systemLinux
TypeSystem software
LicenseGPL and LGPL
WebsiteCgroup v1, Cgroup v2

cgroups (abbreviated from control groups) is a Linux kernel feature that limits, accounts for, and isolates the resource usage (CPU, memory, disk I/O, etc.) of a collection of processes.

Engineers at Google started the work on this feature in 2006 under the name "process containers". In late 2007, the nomenclature changed to "control groups" to avoid confusion caused by multiple meanings of the term "container" in the Linux kernel context, and the control groups functionality was merged into the Linux kernel mainline in kernel version 2.6.24, which was released in January 2008. Since then, developers have added many new features and controllers, such as support for kernfs in 2014, firewalling, and unified hierarchy. cgroup v2 was merged in Linux kernel 4.5 with significant changes to the interface and internal functionality.


There are two versions of cgroups.

Cgroups was originally written by Paul Menage and Rohit Seth, and merged into the mainline Linux kernel in 2007. Afterwards this is called cgroups version 1.

Development and maintenance of cgroups was then taken over by Tejun Heo. Tejun Heo redesigned and rewrote cgroups. This rewrite is now called version 2, the documentation of cgroup-v2 first appeared in Linux kernel 4.5 released on 14 March 2016.

Unlike v1, cgroup v2 has only a single process hierarchy and discriminates between processes, not threads.


One of the design goals of cgroups is to provide a unified interface to many different use cases, from controlling single processes (by using nice, for example) to full operating system-level virtualization (as provided by OpenVZ, Linux-VServer or LXC, for example). Cgroups provides:

Resource limiting groups can be set not to exceed a configured memory limit, which also includes the file system cache, I/O bandwidth limit, CPU quota limit, CPU set limit, or maximum open files. Prioritization some groups may get a larger share of CPU utilization or disk I/O throughput Accounting measures a group's resource usage, which may be used, for example, for billing purposes Control freezing groups of processes, their checkpointing and restarting


As an example of indirect usage, systemd assumes exclusive access to the cgroups facility

A control group (abbreviated as cgroup) is a collection of processes that are bound by the same criteria and associated with a set of parameters or limits. These groups can be hierarchical, meaning that each group inherits limits from its parent group. The kernel provides access to multiple controllers (also called subsystems) through the cgroup interface; for example, the "memory" controller limits memory use, "cpuacct" accounts CPU usage, etc.

Control groups can be used in multiple ways:

The Linux kernel documentation contains some technical details of the setup and use of control groups version 1 and version 2. systemd-cgtop command can be used to show top control groups by their resource usage.


Redesign of cgroups started in 2013, with additional changes brought by versions 3.15 and 3.16 of the Linux kernel.

Namespace isolation

While not technically part of the cgroups work, a related feature of the Linux kernel is namespace isolation, where groups of processes are separated such that they cannot "see" resources in other groups. For example, a PID namespace provides a separate enumeration of process identifiers within each namespace. Also available are mount, user, UTS, network and SysV IPC namespaces.

Namespaces are created with the "unshare" command or syscall, or as "new" flags in a "clone" syscall.

The "ns" subsystem was added early in cgroups development to integrate namespaces and control groups. If the "ns" cgroup was mounted, each namespace would also create a new group in the cgroup hierarchy. This was an experiment that was later judged to be a poor fit for the cgroups API, and removed from the kernel.

Linux namespaces were inspired by the more general namespace functionality used heavily throughout Plan 9 from Bell Labs.

Unified hierarchy

Kernfs was introduced into the Linux kernel with version 3.14 in March 2014, the main author being Tejun Heo. One of the main motivators for a separate kernfs is the cgroups file system. Kernfs is basically created by splitting off some of the sysfs logic into an independent entity, thus easing for other kernel subsystems the implementation of their own virtual file system with handling for device connect and disconnect, dynamic creation and removal, and other attributes. Redesign continued into version 3.15 of the Linux kernel.

Kernel memory control groups (kmemcg)

Kernel memory control groups (kmemcg) were merged into version 3.8 (2013 February 18 (18-02-2013)) of the Linux kernel mainline. The kmemcg controller can limit the amount of memory that the kernel can utilize to manage its own internal processes.

cgroup awareness of OOM killer

Linux Kernel 4.19 (October 2018) introduced cgroup awareness of OOM killer implementation which adds an ability to kill a cgroup as a single unit and so guarantee the integrity of the workload.


Various projects use cgroups as their basis, including CoreOS, Docker (in 2013), Hadoop, Jelastic, Kubernetes, lmctfy (Let Me Contain That For You), LXC (Linux Containers), systemd, Mesos and Mesosphere, and HTCondor.

Major Linux distributions also adopted it such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.0 in November 2010, three years before adoption by the mainline Linux kernel.

On 29 October 2019, the Fedora Project modified Fedora 31 to use CgroupsV2 by default

See also


  1. ^ "Control Group v2 — The Linux Kernel documentation". Retrieved 24 June 2023.
  2. ^ Jonathan Corbet (29 May 2007). "Process containers".
  3. ^ a b Jonathan Corbet (29 October 2007). "Notes from a container". Retrieved 14 April 2015. The original 'containers' name was considered to be too generic – this code is an important part of a container solution, but it's far from the whole thing. So containers have now been renamed 'control groups' (or 'cgroups') and merged for 2.6.24.
  4. ^ "cgroup: convert to kernfs". Linux kernel mailing list. 28 January 2014.
  5. ^ "netfilter: x_tables: lightweight process control group matching". 23 April 2014. Archived from the original on 24 April 2014.
  6. ^ "cgroup: prepare for the default unified hierarchy". 13 March 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Documentation/cgroup-v2.txt as appeared in Linux kernel 4.5". 14 March 2016.
  8. ^ "cgroup v2: Multiple hierarchies".
  9. ^ "diff between Linux kernel 4.4 and 4.5". 14 March 2016.
  10. ^ Jonathan Corbet (31 July 2007). "Controlling memory use in containers". LWN.
  11. ^ Balbir Singh, Vaidynathan Srinivasan (July 2007). "Containers: Challenges with the memory resource controller and its performance" (PDF). Ottawa Linux Symposium.
  12. ^ Carvalho, André. "Using cgroups to limit I/O". Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  13. ^ Luu, Dan. "The container throttling problem". Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  14. ^ Derr, Simon (2004). "CPUSETS". Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  15. ^ "setrlimit(2) — Arch manual pages". Retrieved 27 November 2023.
  16. ^ Jonathan Corbet (23 October 2007). "Kernel space: Fair user scheduling for Linux". Network World. Archived from the original on 19 October 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  17. ^ Kamkamezawa Hiroyu (19 November 2008). Cgroup and Memory Resource Controller (PDF). Japan Linux Symposium. Archived from the original (PDF presentation slides) on 22 July 2011.
  18. ^ a b Dave Hansen. Resource Management (PDF presentation slides). Linux Foundation.
  19. ^ Matt Helsley (3 February 2009). "LXC: Linux container tools". IBM developerWorks.
  20. ^ "Grid Engine cgroups Integration". Scalable Logic. 22 May 2012.
  21. ^ "cgroups".
  22. ^ "Torvalds/Linux". GitHub. 13 February 2022.
  23. ^ "Systemd-cgtop".
  24. ^ "All About the Linux Kernel: Cgroup's Redesign". 15 August 2013. Archived from the original on 28 April 2019. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  25. ^ "The unified control group hierarchy in 3.16". 11 June 2014.
  26. ^ "Pull cgroup updates for 3.15 from Tejun Heo". 3 April 2014.
  27. ^ "Pull cgroup updates for 3.16 from Tejun Heo". 9 June 2014.
  28. ^ Pavel Emelyanov, Kir Kolyshkin (19 November 2007). "PID namespaces in the 2.6.24 kernel".
  29. ^ Jonathan Corbet (30 January 2007). "Network namespaces".
  30. ^ Serge E. Hallyn, Ram Pai (17 September 2007). "Applying mount namespaces". IBM developerWorks.
  31. ^ Michael Kerrisk (27 February 2013). "Namespaces in operation, part 5: User namespaces". Linux Info from the Source.
  32. ^ "LKML: Linus Torvalds: Linux 4.6-rc1".
  33. ^ Janak Desai (11 January 2006). "Linux kernel documentation on unshare".
  34. ^ "The Use of Name Spaces in Plan 9". 1992. Archived from the original on 6 September 2014. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  35. ^ "kernfs, sysfs, driver-core: implement synchronous self-removal". 3 February 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  36. ^ "Linux kernel source tree: kernel/git/torvalds/linux.git: cgroups: convert to kernfs". 11 February 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  37. ^ "memcg: kmem controller infrastructure". source code. 18 December 2012.
  38. ^ "memcg: kmem accounting basic infrastructure". source code. 18 December 2012.
  39. ^ "memcg: add documentation about the kmem controller". 18 December 2012.
  40. ^ "Linux_4.19 - Linux Kernel Newbies".
  41. ^ a b "Mesosphere to Bring Google's Kubernetes to Mesos". 10 July 2014. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  42. ^ "6.0 Release Notes" (PDF). Retrieved 12 September 2023.
  43. ^ "1732114 – Modify Fedora 31 to use CgroupsV2 by default".