We all might be familiar with Linux load averages already. Load averages are the three numbers shown with the
top commands – they look like this:
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?
First, a little background on what the load average values mean. We’ll start out with the simplest case: a machine with one single-core processor.