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limits_conf resource

Use the limits_conf Chef InSpec audit resource to test configuration settings in the /etc/security/limits.conf file. The limits.conf defines limits for processes (by user and/or group names) and helps ensure that the system running those processes remains stable. Each process may be assigned a hard or soft limit.

  • Soft limits are maintained by the shell and defines the number of file handles (or open files) available to the user or group after login
  • Hard limits are maintained by the kernel and defines the maximum number of allowed file handles

Entries in the limits.conf file are similar to:

grantmc     soft   nofile   4096
grantmc     hard   nofile   63536

^^^^^^^^^   ^^^^   ^^^^^^   ^^^^^
domain      type    item    value



This resource is distributed with Chef InSpec and is automatically available for use.


This resource first became available in v1.0.0 of InSpec.


A limits_conf resource block declares a domain to be tested, along with associated type, item, and value:

describe limits_conf('path') do
  its('domain') { should include ['type', 'item', 'value'] }
  its('domain') { should eq ['type', 'item', 'value'] }


  • ('path') is the non-default path to the inetd.conf file
  • 'domain' is a user or group name, such as grantmc
  • 'type' is either hard or soft
  • 'item' is the item for which limits are defined, such as core, nofile, stack, nproc, priority, or maxlogins
  • 'value' is the value associated with the item



The domain property tests the domain in the limits.conf file, along with associated type, item, and value:

its('domain') { should include ['type', 'item', 'value'] }

For example:

its('grantmc') { should include ['hard', 'nofile', '63536'] }

Test limits

describe limits_conf('path') do
  its('*') { should include ['soft', 'core', '0'], ['hard', 'rss', '10000'] }
  its('ftp') { should eq ['hard', 'nproc', '0'] }


For a full list of available matchers, see our Universal Matchers page.
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