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Set Core Dump Size to 0: Save Disk Space & Enhance Security

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Setting the core dump size to 0 is a trade-off decision and whether it is recommended depends on your specific needs and environment. Here are some considerations:

Advantages of Setting Core Dump Size to 0

  1. Disk Space Savings: Core dump files can be large and consume significant disk space. Setting the size to 0 prevents these files from being created, saving disk space.
  2. Security: Core dumps can contain sensitive information, including passwords and other confidential data. Preventing their creation can enhance security.
  3. Performance: Writing core dumps can slightly affect performance, especially if the application crashes frequently. Disabling them avoids this overhead.

Disadvantages of Setting Core Dump Size to 0

  1. Debugging Difficulty: Core dumps are valuable for debugging application crashes. They provide a snapshot of the application’s memory at the time of the crash, helping developers diagnose and fix issues. Without core dumps, diagnosing crashes can be much more challenging.
  2. Loss of Diagnostic Information: If an application crashes, the core dump can provide critical information that helps in understanding the root cause. Without it, you might miss important insights into what went wrong.

Recommendations

  • Development Environment: In a development environment, it is generally recommended to allow core dumps. This helps developers troubleshoot and fix bugs.
  • Production Environment: In a production environment, you might want to disable core dumps (set size to 0) to save disk space and enhance security. However, consider having alternative monitoring and logging mechanisms in place to help diagnose issues.
  • Critical Applications: For critical applications where stability and quick issue resolution are paramount, it might be beneficial to allow core dumps and manage them carefully (e.g., by limiting their size or storing them securely).

Conclusion

Whether to set the core dump size to 0 depends on your specific circumstances. For development purposes, it is usually better to keep core dumps enabled. For production systems, particularly those with stringent security or disk space requirements, setting the core dump size to 0 can be justified, provided there are other ways to diagnose and address crashes.

Assess your needs for debugging information versus the impact on disk space and security to make an informed decision

To prevent the generation of core dump files on your server by setting the core dump size to 0, you can follow these steps:

Temporarily (For the Current Session)

  1. Open a terminal.
  2. Run the following command:
ulimit -c 0

This will set the core dump size limit to 0 for the current session.

Permanently (For All Sessions)

To make this change permanent, you can update the system configuration files. Here are different methods depending on your requirements:

For Bash Shell Users:

1. Edit the /etc/profile file:

  • Open the file with a text editor (you may need superuser privileges):
sudo nano /etc/profile
  • Add the following line at the end of the file:
ulimit -c 0
  • Save the file and exit the text editor.
  • Apply the changes by either logging out and logging back in, or sourcing the profile file:
source /etc/profile

For Specific Users:

1. Edit the user’s shell configuration file (e.g., ~/.bashrc or ~/.bash_profile):

  • Open the file with a text editor:
nano ~/.bashrc
  • Add the following line:
ulimit -c 0
  • Save the file and exit the text editor.
  • Apply the changes:
source ~/.bashrc

System-Wide (For All Users and All Shells)

1. Edit the /etc/security/limits.conf file:

  • Open the file with a text editor (you may need superuser privileges):
sudo nano /etc/security/limits.conf
  • Add the following lines:
* hard core 0 * soft core 0
  • Save the file and exit the text editor.

2. For Systemd Services:

  • If you want to set the core dump size limit for specific services managed by systemd, create or modify a drop-in configuration file for the service:
sudo systemctl edit <service-name>
  • Add the following lines to the file:
[Service] LimitCORE=0

After making these changes, the core dump size will be set to 0, preventing the generation of unnecessary core dump files on your server.