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Command line options

The command line for invoking kdb+ has the form:

.z.x (argv), .z.X (raw command line)


This is either the script to load (*.q, *.k, *.s), or a file or a directory.

$ q sp.q
KDB+ 3.5t 2017.02.28 Copyright (C) 1993-2017 Kx Systems
m32/ 4()core 8192MB sjt mint.local NONEXPIRE
(`s#+(,`color)!,`s#`blue`green`red)!+(,`qty)!,900 1000 1200
+`s`p`qty!(`s$`s1`s1`s1`s2`s3`s4;`p$`p1`p4`p6`p2`p2`p4;300 200 100 400 200 300)

Operating systems may create hidden files, such as .DS_Store, that block loading of a directory.

-b (blocked)


Block write-access to a kdb+ database, for any handle context (.z.w) other than 0. Blocks hdel keyword (since V4.1t 2021.10.13, V4.0 2023.08.11). Blocks hopen of a file (since 4.1t 2021.10.13, 4.0 2023.08.11)

~/q$ q -b
q)aa:([]bb:til 4)
q)\p 5001

and in another task

q)h:hopen 5001
q)h"count aa"

Use \_ to check if client write-access is blocked:

~/q$ q -b

-c (console size)

-c r c

Set console maximum rows and columns, default 25 80.

\c system command for detail

-C (HTTP size)

-C r c

Set HTTP display maximum rows and columns.

\C system command for detail

-e (error traps)

-e [0|1|2]

Sets error-trapping mode. The default is 0 (off).

\e system command for detail

-E (TLS Server Mode)

-E 0        / plain
-E 1        / plain & TLS
-E 2        / TLS only

Since V3.4.

\E system command

-g (garbage collection)

-g 0        / deferred (default)
-g 1        / immediate

Sets garbage-collection mode.

\g system command for detail

-l (log updates)


Log updates to filesystem.


-L (log sync)


As -l, but sync logging.


-m (memory-domain)

-m path

Memory can be backed by a filesystem, allowing use of DAX-enabled filesystems (e.g. AppDirect) as a non-persistent memory extension for kdb+.

This command-line option directs kdb+ to use the filesystem path specified as a separate memory domain. This splits every thread’s heap into two:

domain description
0      regular anonymous memory, active and used for all allocs by default
1      filesystem-backed memory

The .m namespace is reserved for objects in memory domain 1, however names from other namespaces can reference them too, e.g. a:.m.a:1 2 3

-o (UTC offset)

-o N

Sets local time offset as N hours from UTC, or minutes if abs[N]>23 (Affects .z.Z)

\o system command for detail

-p (listening port)

Set listening port

-p [rp,][hostname:](portnumber|servicename)

See Listening port for detail.

\p system command
Multithreaded input mode, Changes in 3.5
Socket sharding with kdb+ and Linux

-P (display precision)

-P N

Display precision for floating-point numbers, i.e. the number of digits shown.

\P system command for detail

-q (quiet mode)


Quiet, i.e. no startup banner text or session prompts. Typically used where no console is required.

~/q$ q
KDB+ 3.5t 2017.02.28 Copyright (C) 1993-2017 Kx Systems

and with -q

~/q$ q -q

.z.q (quiet mode)

-r (replicate)

-r :host:port[:user[:password]]

Replicate from :host:port.

\r system command

-s (secondary threads)

-s N

Number of secondary threads or processes available for parallel processing.

\s system command for detail

-S (random seed)

-S N

Sets N as value of random seed.

\S system command for detail
Roll, Deal

-t (timer ticks)

-t N

Period in milliseconds between timer ticks. Default is 0, for no timer.

\t system command for detail

-T (timeout)

-T N

Timeout in seconds for client queries, i.e. maximum time a client call will execute. Default is 0, for no timeout.

\T system command for detail

-u (disable syscmds)

-u (usr-pwd local)

-U (usr-pwd)

-u 1        / blocks system functions and file access
-U file     / sets password file, blocks \x
-u file     / both the above

-u 1 disables

  • system commands from a remote (signals 'access), including exit via "\\"
  • access to files outside the current directory for any handle context (.z.w) other than 0
  • hopen on a fifo (since 4.1t 2021.10.13, 4.0 2023.08.11)
  • hopen of a file (since 4.1t 2021.10.13, 4.0 2023.08.11)
  • the exit keyword (since 4.1t 2021.07.12)
  • the hdel keyword (since V4.1t 2021.10.13, V4.0 2023.08.11)
Only a simple protection against “wrong” queries

For example, setting a system command in .z.ts and starting the timer still works. The right system command could for example expose a terminal, so the user running the database could be fully impersonated and compromised from then on.

-U file

  • sets a password file
  • disables \x (even on the local console)

The password file is a text file with one credential on each line. (No trailing blank line/s.)


The password can be

  • plain text
  • an MD5 hash of the password
  • an SHA-1 hash of the password (since V4.0 2020.03.17)
q)raze string md5 "this is my password"
q)raze string -33!"mypassword" / -33! calculates sha1

Internal function -33!

-u file combines the above, i.e. -u file is equivalent to -u 1 -U file.

-w (workspace)

-w N

Workspace limit in MB for the heap across threads for memory domain 0. Default is 0: no limit.

\w system command for detail

Before V4.0 2020.03.17 this command set the limit for the heap per thread.

Other ways to limit resources

On Linux systems, administrators might prefer cgroups as a way of limiting resources.

On Unix systems, memory usage can be constrained using ulimit, e.g.

ulimit -v 262144

limits virtual address space to 256MB.

-W (start week)

-W N

Set the start-of-week offset, where 0 is Saturday. The default is 2, i.e Monday.

\W system command for detail

-z (date format)

-z [0|1]

Set the format for "D"$ date parsing: 0 for mm/dd/yyyy and 1 for dd/mm/yyyy.

\z system command