This is cgroups/alloc_mem.c, an example to accompany the book, The Linux Programming Interface.

This file is not printed in the book; it demonstrates Linux features that are not described in the book (typically features that have appeared since the book was published).

The source code file is copyright 2022, Michael Kerrisk, and is licensed under the GNU General Public License, version 3.

In the listing below, the names of Linux system calls and C library functions are hyperlinked to manual pages from the Linux man-pages project, and the names of functions implemented in the book are hyperlinked to the implementations of those functions.


Download cgroups/alloc_mem.c

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Function list (Bold in this list means a function is not static)

/* alloc_mem.c

  Allocate blocks of memory, as specified by command-line arguments. This
  program is useful for small experiments with the 'memory' cgroup controller.
#define _GNU_SOURCE
#include <pthread.h>
#include <sys/syscall.h>
#include "tlpi_hdr.h"

static size_t blockSize;
static int sleepUsecs, numAllocs, numThreads;
static void
allocMem(int numAllocs, size_t blockSize, int sleepUsecs)
    if (numThreads > 1) {

        /* If we have created multiple threads, then pause until the user hits
           <enter>.  This gives the user a chance to split the threads across
           multiple (v1) memory cgroups that have different memory limits,
           making it possible to see how the kernel enforces the limit(s).
           Some light experimentation suggests that only the limit on the
           thread group leader is enforced. (Note that such an experiment
           can't be performed in cgroups v2, where, from the perspective
           of domain controllers such as the memory controller, all of the
           threads in a multithreaded process are always part of the same
           cgroup. */

        char ch;
        printf("Hit ENTER when ready to start memory allocation "
                "(PID = %ld; TID = %ld)\n", (long) getpid(),
        read(STDIN_FILENO, &ch, 1);

    size_t totalMem = 0;

    for (int j = 0; (numAllocs == -1) || (j < numAllocs); j++) {
        char *p = malloc(blockSize);
        if (p == NULL)
            errExit("malloc %d", j);

        /* Make sure virtual memory is actually allocated by touching
           every page */

        for (int k = 0; k < blockSize; k += 1024)
            p[k] = 0;

        totalMem += blockSize;
        printf("%4d: address = %p; total = 0x%zx (%zd MiB)\n",
                j, p, totalMem, totalMem / (1024 * 1024));

        /* If the user requested, slow things down by sleeping
           for some microseconds between each allocation */

        if (sleepUsecs != 0)

    /* Pause, so that we hold onto allocated memory */

    printf("All memory allocated; pausing\n");
static void *
threadFunc(void *arg)
    int doAlloc = (long) arg;

    if (doAlloc)
        allocMem(numAllocs, blockSize, sleepUsecs);

    return NULL;
static void
usageError(char *pname)
    fprintf(stderr, "Usage: %s block-size num-allocs [sleep-usecs "
            "[tflag...]]\n\n", pname);
    fprintf(stderr, "Allocate 'num-allocs' blocks of memory of size "
            "'block-size' bytes.\n\n");
    fprintf(stderr, "The optional 'sleep-usecs' (default: 0) specifies a "
            "number of microseconds to\n");
    fprintf(stderr, "sleep between each allocation.\n\n");
    fprintf(stderr, "One additional thread is created for each 'tflag' "
    fprintf(stderr, "'tflag' is either '+' or '.'. At most one 'tflag' can be "
            "'+', and memory\n"
            "         allocation is done in that thread, or otherwise in the "
            "main thread\n"
            "         if no 'tflag' was '+'.\n");
main(int argc, char *argv[])
    bool allocated = false;

    if (argc < 3)

    blockSize = strtol(argv[1], NULL, 0);
    numAllocs = strtol(argv[2], NULL, 0);
    sleepUsecs = (argc > 3) ? atoi(argv[3]) : 0;

    numThreads = argc - 4;

    if (argc > 4) {

        /* If the user requested the creation of additional threads, then
           create those threads. */

        for (int j = 4; j < argc; j++) {
            pthread_t thr;
            long doAlloc;

            doAlloc = argv[j][0] == '+';
            if (doAlloc && allocated)
                fatal("Can only specify one '+' argument");

            int s = pthread_create(&thr, NULL, threadFunc, (void *) doAlloc);
            if (s != 0)
                errExitEN(s, "pthread_create");

            if (doAlloc)
                allocated = true;

        printf("All threads created\n");

    if ( ! allocated)
        allocMem(numAllocs, blockSize, sleepUsecs);



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