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max concurrent processes can't be > 257?

I'm running qmail and am trying to set up linux to allow for hundreds of
outgoing connections at once (no, I'm not a spammer but the new admin of
some very large, dynamic mailing lists). I'm using Debian Linux 2.2.18pre21
and from what I read, it should be quite possible to adjust the maximum
processes per
user through 'limit' (or 'ulimit' depending on the shell) rather than
adjusting and recompiling the kernel. Well, I'm root, I do the adjustments
to limit ('limit maxproc 1000') but when I check the logs, qmail never gets
above 257 concurrency (256 is the default limit of maxproc). I do a 'limit'
before and after I run my script and get the following output each time:

cputime         unlimited
filesize        unlimited
datasize        unlimited
stacksize       8192 kbytes
coredumpsize    0 kbytes
memoryuse       unlimited
descriptors     10000
memorylocked    unlimited
maxproc         1000
openfiles       10000

So the limit adjustment is sticking and yet it's being ignored. I thought at
one point that maybe when I change the limit as root it doesn't apply to
user qmailr (the user opening all the connections) but when I 'su qmailr'
and check 'limit' I get the same updated numbers so that doesn't seem to be
the problem. In the logfiles, the error I get at 257 concurrent connections
is this:

May  2 16:21:07 debian qmail: 988845667.036121 status: local 0/10 remote
May  2 16:21:07 debian qmail: 988845667.036150 delivery 44180:

"qmail-spawn unable to fork" pretty much tells me it's a linux resource
problem. Okay, but what are 'limit' and 'ulimit' for if the adjustments I
make to them are ignored? Thank ya much, in advance.


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