Switch to SpeakEasy.net DSL

The Modular Manual Browser

Home Page
Manual: (NetBSD-6.1.5)
Apropos / Subsearch:
optional field

SYSCTL(8)                   System Manager's Manual                  SYSCTL(8)

     sysctl -- get or set kernel state

     sysctl [-AdeMnq] [-r | -x] [name ...]
     sysctl [-nq] [-r | -x] -w name[?]=value ...
     sysctl [-en] [-r | -x] -a
     sysctl [-nq] [-r | -x] -f file

     The sysctl utility retrieves kernel state and allows processes with
     appropriate privilege to set kernel state.  The state to be retrieved or
     set is described using a ``Management Information Base'' (``MIB'') style
     name, described as a dotted set of components.  The `/' character may
     also be used as a separator and a leading separator character is
     accepted.  If name specifies a non-leaf node in the MIB, all the nodes
     underneath name will be printed.

     The following options are available:

     -A      List all the known MIB names including tables, unless any MIB
             arguments or -f file are given.  Those with string or integer
             values will be printed as with the -a flag; for table or
             structure values that sysctl is not able to print, the name of
             the utility to retrieve them is given.  Errors in retrieving or
             setting values will be directed to stdout instead of stderr.

     -a      List all the currently available string or integer values.  The
             use of a solitary separator character (either `.' or `/') by
             itself has the same effect.  Any given name arguments are ignored
             if this option is specified.

     -d      Descriptions of each of the nodes selected will be printed
             instead of their values.

     -e      Separate the name and the value of the variable(s) with `='.
             This is useful for producing output which can be fed back to the
             sysctl utility.  This option is ignored if -n is specified or a
             variable is being set.

     -f      Specifies the name of a file to read and process.  Blank lines
             and comments (beginning with `#') are ignored.  Line
             continuations with `\' are permitted.  Remaining lines are
             processed similarly to command line arguments of the form name or
             name=value.  The -w flag is implied by -f.  Any name arguments
             are ignored.

     -M      Makes sysctl print the MIB instead of any of the actual values
             contained in the MIB.  This causes the entire MIB to be printed
             unless specific MIB arguments or -f file are also given.

     -n      Specifies that the printing of the field name should be
             suppressed and that only its value should be output.  This flag
             is useful for setting shell variables.  For example, to save the
             pagesize in variable psize, use:
                   set psize=`sysctl -n hw.pagesize`

     -q      Used to indicate that nothing should be printed for reads or
             writes unless an error is detected.  For reads, not finding a
             variable does not print an error, but exits with an error code.
             This is useful just for testing that a variable exists.

     -r      Raw output form.  Values printed are in their raw binary forms as
             retrieved directly from the kernel.  Some additional nodes that
             sysctl cannot print directly can be retrieved with this flag.
             This option conflicts with the -x option.

     -w      Sets the MIB style name given to the value given.  The MIB style
             name and value must be separated by `=' with no whitespace.  To
             prevent an error if the MIB style name does not exist (as would
             be the case with optional kernel components), one can separate
             the MIB style name and the value with `?='.  Only integral and
             string values can be set via this method.

     -x      Makes sysctl print the requested value in a hexadecimal
             representation instead of its regular form.  If specified more
             than once, the output for each value resembles that of hexdump(1)
             when given the -C flag.  This option conflicts with the -r

     The `proc' top-level MIB has a special semantic: it represent per-process
     values and as such may differ from one process to another.  The second-
     level name is the pid of the process (in decimal form), or the special
     word `curproc'.  For variables below `proc.<pid>.rlimit', the integer
     value may be replaced with the string `unlimited' if it matches the magic
     value used to disable a limit.

     The information available from sysctl consists of integers, strings, and
     tables.  The tabular information can only be retrieved by special purpose
     programs such as ps, systat, and netstat.  See sysctl(7) for description
     of available MIBs.

     New nodes are allowed to be created by the superuser when the kernel is
     running at security level 0.  These new nodes may refer to existing
     kernel data or to new data that is only instrumented by sysctl(3) itself.

     The syntax for creating new nodes is ``//create=new.node.path'' followed
     by one or more of the following attributes separated by commas.  The use
     of a double separator (both `/' and `.' can be used as separators) as the
     prefix tells sysctl that the first series of tokens is not a MIB name,
     but a command.  It is recommended that the double separator preceding the
     command not be the same as the separator used in naming the MIB entry so
     as to avoid possible parse conflicts.  The ``value'' assigned, if one is
     given, must be last.

     o   type=<T> where T must be one of ``node'', ``int'', ``string'',
         ``quad'', or ``struct''.  If the type is omitted, the ``node'' type
         is assumed.
     o   size=<S> here, S asserts the size of the new node.  Nodes of type
         ``node'' should not have a size set.  The size may be omitted for
         nodes of types ``int'' or ``quad''.  If the size is omitted for a
         node of type ``string'', the size will be determined by the length of
         the given value, or by the kernel for kernel strings.  Nodes of type
         ``struct'' must have their size explicitly set.
     o   addr=<A> or symbol=<A> The kernel address of the data being
         instrumented.  If ``symbol'' is used, the symbol must be globally
         visible to the in-kernel ksyms(4) driver.
     o   n=<N> The MIB number to be assigned to the new node.  If no number is
         specified, the kernel will assign a value.
     o   flags=<F> A concatenated string of single letters that govern the
         behavior of the node.  Flags currently available are:

         a    Allow anyone to write to the node, if it is writable.

         h    ``Hidden''.  sysctl must be invoked with -A or the hidden node
              must be specifically requested in order to see it

         i    ``Immediate''.  Makes the node store data in itself, rather than
              allocating new space for it.  This is the default for nodes of
              type ``int'' and ``quad''.  This is the opposite of owning data.

         o    ``Own''.  When the node is created, separate space will be
              allocated to store the data to be instrumented.  This is the
              default for nodes of type ``string'' and ``struct'' where it is
              not possible to guarantee sufficient space to store the data in
              the node itself.

         p    ``Private''.  Nodes that are marked private, and children of
              nodes so marked, are only viewable by the superuser.  Be aware
              that the immediate data that some nodes may store is not
              necessarily protected by this.

         x    ``Hexadecimal''.  Make sysctl default to hexadecimal display of
              the retrieved value

         r    ``Read-only''.  The data instrumented by the given node is read-
              only.  Note that other mechanisms may still exist for changing
              the data.  This is the default for nodes that instrument data.

         w    ``Writable''.  The data instrumented by the given node is
              writable at any time.  This is the default for nodes that can
              have children.

     o   value=<V> An initial starting value for a new node that does not
         reference existing kernel data.  Initial values can only be assigned
         for nodes of the ``int'', ``quad'', and ``string'' types.

     New nodes must fit the following set of criteria:

     o   If the new node is to address an existing kernel object, only one of
         the ``symbol'' or ``addr'' arguments may be given.
     o   The size for a ``struct'' type node must be specified; no initial
         value is expected or permitted.
     o   Either the size or the initial value for a ``string'' node must be
     o   The node which will be the parent of the new node must be writable.

     If any of the given parameters describes an invalid configuration, sysctl
     will emit a diagnostic message to the standard error and exit.

     Descriptions can be added by the super-user to any node that does not
     have one, provided that the node is not marked with the ``PERMANENT''
     flag.  The syntax is similar to the syntax for creating new nodes with
     the exception of the keyword that follows the double separator at the
     start of the command: ``//describe=new.node.path=new node description''.
     Once a description has been added, it cannot be changed or removed.

     When destroying nodes, only the path to the node is necessary, i.e.,
     ``//destroy=old.node.path''.  No other parameters are expected or
     permitted.  Nodes being destroyed must have no children, and their parent
     must be writable.  Nodes that are marked with the ``PERMANENT'' flag (as
     assigned by the kernel) may not be deleted.

     In all cases, the initial `=' that follows the command (eg, ``create'',
     ``destroy'', or ``describe'') may be replaced with another instance of
     the separator character, provided that the same separator character is
     used for the length of the name specification.

     /etc/sysctl.conf  sysctl variables set at boot time

     For example, to retrieve the maximum number of processes allowed in the
     system, one would use the following request:
           sysctl kern.maxproc

     To set the maximum number of processes allowed in the system to 1000, one
     would use the following request:
           sysctl -w kern.maxproc=1000

     Information about the system clock rate may be obtained with:
           sysctl kern.clockrate

     Information about the load average history may be obtained with:
           sysctl vm.loadavg

     To view the values of the per-process variables of the current shell, the
           sysctl proc.$$
     can be used if the shell interpreter replaces $$ with its pid (this is
     true for most shells).

     To redirect core dumps to the /var/tmp/<username> directory,
           sysctl -w proc.$$.corename=/var/tmp/%u/%n.core
     should be used.
           sysctl -w proc.curproc.corename=/var/tmp/%u/%n.core
     changes the value for the sysctl process itself, and will not have the
     desired effect.

     To create the root of a new sub-tree called ``local'' add some children
     to the new node, and some descriptions:
           sysctl -w //create=local
           sysctl -w //describe=local=my local sysctl tree
           sysctl -w //create=local.esm_debug,type=int,symbol=esm_debug,flags=w
           sysctl -w //describe=local.esm_debug=esm driver debug knob
           sysctl -w //create=local.audiodebug,type=int,symbol=audiodebug,flags=w
           sysctl -w //describe=local.audiodebug=generic audio debug knob
     Note that the children are made writable so that the two debug settings
     in question can be tuned arbitrarily.

     To destroy that same subtree:
           sysctl -w //destroy=local.esm_debug
           sysctl -w //destroy=local.audiodebug
           sysctl -w //destroy=local

     sysctl(3), ksyms(4), sysctl(7)

     sysctl first appeared in 4.4BSD.

NetBSD 6.1.5                    August 2, 2011                    NetBSD 6.1.5