/proc/cgroups: Explanation & Insights

Displays information about the control groups

The /proc/cgroups file is a read-only file that lives in the /proc directory. It provides information about the control groups subsystem of the Linux kernel.

Control groups, or cgroups, are a kernel feature that limits and isolates the resource usage (CPU, memory, disk I/O, network, etc.) of process groups.

What Does /proc/cgroups Contain?

The /proc/cgroups file contains tab-separated values that indicate the subsystem name, hierarchy, the number of cgroups for each hierarchy, and the number of tasks for each. The subsystem names can include cpu, cpuacct, cpuset, devices, freezer, net_cls, blkio, perf_event, net_prio, hugetlb, pids, rdma, memory, and cgroup.

#subsys_name    hierarchy       num_cgroups     enabled
cpuset  4       10      1
cpu     2       76      1
cpuacct 6       76      1
blkio   3       76      1
memory  5       183     1
devices 8       76      1
freezer 7       76      1

Why is /proc/cgroups Important?

Understanding the /proc/cgroups file is crucial because it allows us to monitor and control the resources that each process and its children can use. This is especially useful in multi-user systems or systems running multiple services, where resource allocation can significantly impact performance and stability.

Using /proc/cgroups

To view the contents of the /proc/cgroups file, you can use the cat command:

cat /proc/cgroups

The output will give you an overview of the control groups subsystems currently active on your system.

Typical Problems Diagnosed with /proc/cgroups

One common issue you might encounter is overconsumption of resources by certain processes, leading to system instability or performance degradation. By examining the /proc/cgroups file, you can identify which cgroups are consuming more resources and take appropriate actions.

For example, if you notice that a particular cgroup is consuming a large amount of memory, this might indicate that there's a memory leak in one of the processes within that cgroup. In this case, you can use cgroups to limit the amount of memory that the problematic cgroup can use, preventing it from affecting the rest of the system.


The /proc/cgroups file is a powerful tool in any Linux admin's arsenal. By understanding its purpose and how to use it, you can effectively manage resource allocation on your server, diagnose potential issues, and ensure a smooth, stable operation.

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