Timeout Command in Linux
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timeout is a command-line utility that runs a specified command and terminates it if it is still running after a given period of time. In other words,
timeout allows you to run a command with a time limit. The
timeout command is a part of the GNU core utilities package which is installed on almost any Linux distribution.
It is handy when you want to run a command that doesn’t have a built-in timeout option.
In this article, we will explain how to use the Linux
How to Use the
The syntax for the
timeout command is as follows:
timeout [OPTIONS] DURATION COMMAND [ARG]…
DURATION can be a positive integer or a floating-point number, followed by an optional unit suffix:
s- seconds (default)
When no unit is used, it defaults to seconds. If the duration is set to zero, the associated timeout is disabled.
The command options must be provided before the arguments.
Here are a few basic examples demonstrating how to use the
Terminate a command after five seconds:
timeout 5 ping 18.104.22.168
Terminate a command after five minutes:
timeout 5m ping 22.214.171.124
Terminate a command after one minute and six seconds:
timeout 1.1m ping 126.96.36.199
sudo timeout 300 tcpdump -n -w data.pcap
Sending Specific Signal
If no signal is given,
timeout sends the
SIGTERM signal to the managed command when the time limit is reached. You can specify which signal to send using the
For example, to send
SIGKILL to the
ping command after one minute you would use:
sudo timeout -s SIGKILL ping 188.8.131.52
The signal can be specified by its name like
SIGKILL or its number like
9. The following command is identical to the previous one:
sudo timeout -s 9 ping 184.108.40.206
To get a list of all available signals, use the
kill -l command:
Killing Stuck Processes
SIGTERM, the default signal that is sent when the time limit is exceeded can be caught or ignored by some processes. In that situations, the process continues to run after the termination signal is send.
To make sure the monitored command is killed, use the
--kill-after) option following by a time period. When this option is used after the given time limit is reached, the
timeout command sends
SIGKILL signal to the managed program that cannot be caught or ignored.
In the following example,
timeout runs the command for one minute, and if it is not terminated, it will kill it after ten seconds:
sudo timeout -k 10 1m ping 220.127.116.11
timeout -k “./test.sh”
killed after the given time limit is reached
Preserving the Exit Status
124 when the time limit is reached. Otherwise, it returns the exit status of the managed command.
To return the exit status of the command even when the time limit is reached, use the
timeout --preserve-status 5 ping 18.104.22.168
Running in Foreground
timeout runs the managed command in the background. If you want to run the command in the foreground, use the
timeout --foreground 5m ./script.sh
This option is useful when you want to run an interactive command that requires user input.
timeout command is used to run a given command with a time limit.
timeout is a simple command that doesn’t have a lot of options. Typically you will invoke
timeout only with two arguments, the duration, and the managed command.
If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to leave a comment.