timeout — run a command with a time limit



timeout [OPTION]


Start COMMAND, and kill it if still running after DURATION.

Mandatory arguments to long options are mandatory for short options too.


  • exit with the same status as COMMAND, even when the command times out


  • When not running timeout directly from a shell prompt, allow COMMAND to read from the TTY and receive TTY signals. In this mode, children of COMMAND will not be timed out.

    −k, −−kill−after=DURATION

  • also send a KILL signal if COMMAND is still running this long after the initial signal was sent.

    −s, −−signal=SIGNAL

  • specify the signal to be sent on timeout. SIGNAL may be a name like 'HUP' or a number. See 'kill −l' for a list of signals


    display this help and exit


    output version information and exit

DURATION is a floating point number with an optional suffix: 's' for seconds (the default), 'm' for minutes, 'h' for hours or 'd' for days.

If the command times out, and −−preserve−status is not set, then exit with status 124. Otherwise, exit with the status of COMMAND. If no signal is specified, send the TERM signal upon timeout. The TERM signal kills any process that does not block or catch that signal. It may be necessary to use the KILL (9) signal, since this signal cannot be caught, in which case the exit status is 128+9 rather than 124.


Some platforms don't curently support timeouts beyond 2038


Written by Padraig Brady.


Report timeout bugs to bug−

GNU coreutils home page: <>

General help using GNU software: <>

Report timeout translation bugs to <>



The full documentation for timeout is maintained as a Texinfo manual. If the info and timeout programs are properly installed at your site, the command

  • info coreutils 'timeout invocation'

should give you access to the complete manual.


Copyright © 2013 Free Software Foundation, Inc. License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <>.

This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.