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ionice - set or get process I/O scheduling class and priority


ionice [-c class] [-n level] [-t] -p PID...
ionice [-c class] [-n level] [-t] -P PGID...
ionice [-c class] [-n level] [-t] -u UID...
ionice [-c class] [-n level] [-t] command [argument...]


This program sets or gets the I/O scheduling class and priority for a program. If no
arguments or just -p is given, ionice will query the current I/O scheduling class and
priority for that process.

When command is given, ionice will run this command with the given arguments. If no class
is specified, then command will be executed with the "best-effort" scheduling class. The
default priority level is 4.

As of this writing, a process can be in one of three scheduling classes:

Idle A program running with idle I/O priority will only get disk time when no other
program has asked for disk I/O for a defined grace period. The impact of an idle
I/O process on normal system activity should be zero. This scheduling class does
not take a priority argument. Presently, this scheduling class is permitted for an
ordinary user (since kernel 2.6.25).

This is the effective scheduling class for any process that has not asked for a
specific I/O priority. This class takes a priority argument from 0-7, with a lower
number being higher priority. Programs running at the same best-effort priority
are served in a round-robin fashion.

Note that before kernel 2.6.26 a process that has not asked for an I/O priority
formally uses "none" as scheduling class, but the I/O scheduler will treat such
processes as if it were in the best-effort class. The priority within the best-
effort class will be dynamically derived from the CPU nice level of the process:
io_priority = (cpu_nice + 20) / 5.

For kernels after 2.6.26 with the CFQ I/O scheduler, a process that has not asked
for an I/O priority inherits its CPU scheduling class. The I/O priority is derived
from the CPU nice level of the process (same as before kernel 2.6.26).

The RT scheduling class is given first access to the disk, regardless of what else
is going on in the system. Thus the RT class needs to be used with some care, as
it can starve other processes. As with the best-effort class, 8 priority levels
are defined denoting how big a time slice a given process will receive on each
scheduling window. This scheduling class is not permitted for an ordinary (i.e.,
non-root) user.


-c, --class class
Specify the name or number of the scheduling class to use; 0 for none, 1 for
realtime, 2 for best-effort, 3 for idle.

-n, --classdata level
Specify the scheduling class data. This only has an effect if the class accepts an
argument. For realtime and best-effort, 0-7 are valid data (priority levels).

-p, --pid PID...
Specify the process IDs of running processes for which to get or set the scheduling

-P, --pgid PGID...
Specify the process group IDs of running processes for which to get or set the
scheduling parameters.

-t, --ignore
Ignore failure to set the requested priority. If command was specified, run it
even in case it was not possible to set the desired scheduling priority, which can
happen due to insufficient privileges or an old kernel version.

-h, --help
Display help text and exit.

-u, --uid UID...
Specify the user IDs of running processes for which to get or set the scheduling

-V, --version
Display version information and exit.


# ionice -c 3 -p 89

Sets process with PID 89 as an idle I/O process.

# ionice -c 2 -n 0 bash

Runs 'bash' as a best-effort program with highest priority.

# ionice -p 89 91

Prints the class and priority of the processes with PID 89 and 91.


Linux supports I/O scheduling priorities and classes since 2.6.13 with the CFQ I/O


Jens Axboe <[email protected]>
Karel Zak <[email protected]>


The ionice command is part of the util-linux package and is available from

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