CentOS 7: Disabling OOMKiller for a process

In the latest version of the proc filesystem the OOMKiller has had some adjustments.  The valid range is now -1000 to +1000; previously it was -16 to +15 with a special score of -17 to outright disable it.  It also now uses /proc/<pid>/oom_score_adj instead of /proc/<pid>/oom_adj.  You can read the finer details here.

Given that, systemd now includes OOMScoreAdjust specifically for altering this.  To fully disable OOMKiller on a service simply add OOMScoreAdjust=-1000 directly underneath a [Service] definition, as follows.


This score can be adjusted if you want to ensure the parent PID lives, but children processes can be safely reaped by setting it to something like -999, then if “/bin/parent”, has “/bin/parent –memory-hungry-child,” it will be killed first.

If you have a third-party daemon (like Datadog, used in this example below) which manages itself and uses a sysvinit script you can still calm the OOMKiller.  A good way I’ve found this is, at whatever regular interval you choose, adjust the oom_score_adj, manually.

As a raw example, using all datadog processes, I’ve done the following (as root):

pgrep -f "/opt/datadog-agent/embedded/bin/python" | while read PID; do echo -1000 > /proc/$PID/oom_score_adj; done;

In an example Ansible playbook that would allow you to exclude more than one group of processes:

  - "/opt/datadog-agent/embedded/bin/python"
  - "/opt/my-process/bin/foo"
- name: Exclude processes from oomkiller
    name: "Exclude {{ item }} from oomkiller"
    job: "pgrep -f \"{{ item }}\" | while read PID; do echo -1000 > /proc/$PID/oom_score_adj; done"
    minute: "*/5"
    state: present
  with_items: "{{ oomkiller_exclusions }}"
    - oomkiller


It’s not directly in any of the docs that I linked, but some commenters mentioned that children processes inherit parent processes oom_score_adj.  I confirmed this with some quick testing.  In the below, 11745 is a python CLI, and 12203 is subprocess.call(["sleep", "60"]) called by 11745.

$ cat /proc/11745/oom_score_adj
$ echo -1000 > /proc/11745/oom_score_adj
$ cat /proc/12203/oom_score_adj

5 thoughts on “CentOS 7: Disabling OOMKiller for a process

    1. Currently 3.10.0-514.2.2.el7.x86_64, will be writing a small script to determine if there are any cases where this is not true, or if I’ve simply had a very anecdotal experience.


  1. > Any children processes spawned by the main service process are still susceptible to be killed by the OOMKiller

    Nope, by default child process inherits oom_score_adj from parent.


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