"sysctl - configure kernel parameters at runtime" - man sysctl

/etc/sysctl.conf is for storing permanent changes, sysctl is used for making changes to the running system.

sysctl command examples

Show all kernel variables for the in-memory kernel

sysctl -a

Assign a new variable for the running kernel to use

sysctl -w variable=value

Load values from /etc/sysctl.conf

sysctl -p

sysctl.conf examples

Reboot after 10 seconds if kernel panics

kernel.panic = 10

Treat all oopses as panics

kernel.panic_on_oops = 1