Linux Tutorial Series

Linux Tutorial Series – 110 – Load averages

Here is the video version, if you prefer it:

Let’s talk about load averages today. Load averages display how many processes (on average) are ready to run at this moment. You can display this information with uptime. (Ward, 2014)⁠

For example:

mislav@mislavovo-racunalo:~$ uptime

21:15:27 up 97 days, 3:36, 1 user, load average: 0.11, 0.14, 0.18

0.11 tells me that in the last minute my CPU (processor) has been dealing with 0.11 processes, in the last 5 minutes it has been dealing with 0.14 processes and in the last 15 minutes it has been dealing with 0.18 processes.

If you have multiple cores (I have 4), then a load average of 1 means that one core has been busy all the time, while other 3 have been “chilling out”. The point is that when considering the load averages, factor in the number of cores in your computer and if you are in fact dealing with a high load average, use top to find out what process is using up most resources (it will be at the top of the top’s list).

Thank you for reading!


Ward, B. (2014). How Linux Works: What Every Superuser Should Know (2nd ed.). No Starch Press. Pages 180-181

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