Understanding Linux CPU LOAD Load average

Load averages are the three numbers shown with the uptime and top commands – they look like this:

load average: 0.09, 0.05, 0.01

Most people have an inkling of what the load averages mean: the three numbers represent averages over progressively longer periods of time (one, five, and fifteen minute averages), and that lower numbers are better. Higher numbers represent a problem or an overloaded machine. But, what’s the the threshold? What constitutes “good” and “bad” load average values? When should you be concerned over a load average value, and when should you scramble to fix it ASAP?


1.16 0.79 0.66 1/1443 13907

The first three fields in this file are load average figures giving the number of jobs in the run queue (state R) or waiting for disk I/O (state D) averaged over 1, 5, and 15 minutes.

They are the same as the load average numbers given by uptime(1) and other programs.

The fourth field consists of two numbers separated by a slash (/). The first of these is the number of currently executing kernel scheduling entities (processes, threads); this will be less than or equal to the number of CPUs. The value after the slash is the number of kernel scheduling entities that currently exist on the system.

The fifth field is the PID of the process that was most recently created on the system.