Load Average in Linux Servers — Confusion Solved

  • What is load average show in top command ?
  • What this values represent ?
  • When it will be high when low ?
  • When to consider it as critical ?
  • In which scenarios it can increase ?

The traffic analogy

  • 0.00 means there’s no traffic on the bridge at all. In fact, between 0.00 and 1.00 means there’s no backup, and an arriving car will just go right on.
  • 1.00 means the bridge is exactly at capacity. All is still good, but if traffic gets a little heavier, things are going to slow down.
  • over 1.00 means there’s backup. How much? Well, 2.00 means that there are two lanes worth of cars total — one lane’s worth on the bridge, and one lane’s worth waiting. 3.00 means there are three lanes worth total — one lane’s worth on the bridge, and two lanes’ worth waiting. Etc.

So you’re saying the ideal load is 1.00?

  • The “number of cores = max load” Rule of Thumb: on a multicore system, your load should not exceed the number of cores available.
  • The “cores is cores” Rule of Thumb: How the cores are spread out over CPUs doesn’t matter. Two quad-cores == four dual-cores == eight single-cores. It’s all eight cores for these purposes.

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