The setproctitle module allows a process to change its title (as displayed
by system tools such as ps and top).
Changing the title is mostly useful in multi-process systems, for example
when a master process is forked: changing the children’s title allows to
identify the task each process is busy with. The technique is used by
PostgreSQL and the OpenSSH Server for example.
The procedure is hardly portable across different systems. PostgreSQL provides
a good multi-platform implementation: this module is a Python wrapper
around PostgreSQL code.
setproctitle is a C extension: in order to build it you will need a C
compiler and the Python development support (the python-dev or
python3-dev package in most Linux distributions). No further external
dependencies are required.
You can use pip to install the module:
pip install setproctitle
You can use pip -t or virtualenv for local installations, sudo pip
for a system-wide one… the usual stuff. Read pip or virtualenv docs for
all the details.
You should import and use the module (even just calling getproctitle())
pretty early in your program lifetime: code writing env vars may
interfere with the module initialisation.
The setproctitle module exports the following functions:
Set title as the title for the current process.
Return the current process title.
The process title is usually visible in files such as /proc/PID/cmdline,
/proc/PID/status, /proc/PID/comm, depending on the operating system
and kernel version. These information are used by user-space tools such as
ps and top.
Set title as the title for the current thread.
Get the current thread title.
The thread title is exposed by some operating systems as the file
/proc/PID/task/TID/comm, which is used by certain tools such as htop.
A few environment variables can be used to customize the module behavior:
Avoid clobbering /proc/PID/environ.
On many platforms, setting the process title will clobber the
environ memory area. os.environ will work as expected from within
the Python process, but the content of the file /proc/PID/environ will
be overwritten. If you require this file not to be broken you can set the
SPT_NOENV environment variable to any non-empty value: in this case
the maximum length for the title will be limited to the length of the
Print debug information on stderr.
If the module doesn’t work as expected you can set this variable to a
non-empty value to generate information useful for debugging. Note that
the most useful information is printed when the module is imported, not
when the functions are called.
The module can be currently compiled and effectively used on the following
Note that on Windows there is no way to change the process string:
what the module does is to create a Named Object whose value can be read
using a tool such as Process Explorer (contribution of a more useful tool
to be used together with setproctitle would be well accepted).
The module can probably work on HP-UX, but I haven’t found any to test with.
It is unlikely that it can work on Solaris instead.
Fixed Windows build (issues #89, #90).
Added wheel packages for Windows (issues #47, #90).
Added wheel packages for aarch64 (issues #95).
Fixed segfault after os.environ.clear() (issue #88).
added getthreadtitle() and setthreadtitle().
Initialisation of the module moved to the first usage: importing the module
doesn’t cause side effects.
Manage much longer command lines (#52)
Improved build on BSD, dropped ancient versions (issue #67).
Fixed build for Python 3.8 (#66, #72)
Added support for Python 3.9
Dropped support for Python < 3.6
Fixed building with certain prctl.h implementations (issue #44).
Use setuptools if available (issue #48).
Fixed build on VC (issues #20, #33).
Added MANIFEST.in to the source distribution to help with RPM building
Added support for Python “diehard” 2.4 (pull request #3).
Fixed build on Mac OS X 10.9 Maverick (issue #27).