load > 1, no process using >10% CPU...?

Rob MacGregor freebsd.macgregor at blueyonder.co.uk
Tue Apr 19 23:09:55 PDT 2005

On Wednesday, April 20, 2005 2:20 AM, Damian Gerow <> unleashed the infinite
monkeys and produced:

> Until the build failed.  Now top /still/ isn't showing me much.  systat -vm
> is showing me at just under 100% User, with little to no disk activity.
> I'm a little fuzzy as to /how/ load is calculated, but why would my system
> think that it's doing all kinds of work when ps, top, and systat can't
> really tell me /what/ it's doing?

The "load" is the number of active processes (the number of processes in the run
queue).  That's all it measures - not CPU load, disk I/O or anything else -
purely the number of processes in the run queue.

Load and processor usage aren't linked.  If the processes are I/O bound (for
example) then while the system load may be high, the actual CPU usage may well
be low.

Google produced http://www.teamquest.com/resources/gunther/ldavg1.shtml, which
isn't a bad description of the load average, though heavily based on Linux.

 Rob | Oh my God! They killed init! You bastards!

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