Configuring system settingsedit

Where to configure systems settings depends on which package you have used to install Elasticsearch, and which operating system you are using.

When using the .zip or .tar.gz packages, system settings can be configured:

When using the RPM or Debian packages, most system settings are set in the system configuration file. However, systems which use systemd require that system limits are specified in a systemd configuration file.


On Linux systems, ulimit can be used to change resource limits on a temporary basis. Limits usually need to be set as root before switching to the user that will run Elasticsearch. For example, to set the number of open file handles (ulimit -n) to 65,536, you can do the following:

sudo su  
ulimit -n 65536 
su elasticsearch 

Become root.

Change the max number of open files.

Become the elasticsearch user in order to start Elasticsearch.

The new limit is only applied during the current session.

You can consult all currently applied limits with ulimit -a.


On Linux systems, persistent limits can be set for a particular user by editing the /etc/security/limits.conf file. To set the maximum number of open files for the elasticsearch user to 65,536, add the following line to the limits.conf file:

elasticsearch  -  nofile  65536

This change will only take effect the next time the elasticsearch user opens a new session.


Ubuntu and limits.conf

Ubuntu ignores the limits.conf file for processes started by init.d. To enable the limits.conf file, edit /etc/pam.d/su and uncomment the following line:

# session    required

Sysconfig fileedit

When using the RPM or Debian packages, system settings and environment variables can be specified in the system configuration file, which is located in:





However, for systems which uses systemd, system limits need to be specified via systemd.

Systemd configurationedit

When using the RPM or Debian packages on systems that use systemd, system limits must be specified via systemd.

The systemd service file (/usr/lib/systemd/system/elasticsearch.service) contains the limits that are applied by default.

To override these, add a file called /etc/systemd/system/elasticsearch.service.d/elasticsearch.conf and specify any changes in that file, such as:


Setting JVM optionsedit

The preferred method of setting Java Virtual Machine options (including system properties and JVM flags) is via the jvm.options configuration file. The default location of this file is config/jvm.options (when installing from the tar or zip distributions) and /etc/elasticsearch/jvm.options (when installing from the Debian or RPM packages). This file contains a line-delimited list of JVM arguments, which must begin with -. You can add custom JVM flags to this file and check this configuration into your version control system.

An alternative mechanism for setting Java Virtual Machine options is via the ES_JAVA_OPTS environment variable. For instance:


When using the RPM or Debian packages, ES_JAVA_OPTS can be specified in the system configuration file.

The JVM has a built-in mechanism for observing the JAVA_TOOL_OPTIONS environment variable. We intentionally ignore this environment variable in our packaging scripts. The primary reason for this is that on some OS (e.g., Ubuntu) there are agents installed by default via this environment variable that we do not want interfering with Elasticsearch.

Additionally, some other Java programs support the JAVA_OPTS environment variable. This is not a mechanism built into the JVM but instead a convention in the ecosystem. However, we do not support this environment variable, instead supporting setting JVM options via the jvm.options file or the environment variable ES_JAVA_OPTS as above.