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Full Discussion: Load Average
Top Forums UNIX for Dummies Questions & Answers Load Average Post 302093996 by Heathe_Kyle on Tuesday 24th of October 2006 10:20:25 AM
Old 10-24-2006
Load Average

Hello all, I have a question about load averages.

I've read the man pages for the uptime and w command for two or three different flavors of Unix (Red Hat, Tru64, Solaris). All of them agree that in the output of the 2 aforementioned commands, you are given the load average for the box, but none of the man pages is terribly clear on exactly what the load average is. The most helpful description I have found states that the load average is: "the number of jobs in the run queue for the last 5 seconds, the last 30 seconds, and the last 60 seconds". OK. Seems clear enough. The confusing part for me is that I don't understand how the number can be anything but an integer. When I run the command on a box, I get out like this:

load average: 6.37, 6.25, 6.57

The 6's I get... how can you have 6.37 jobs lined up for execution though? Would the partial jobs be threads or children processes of a parent job?

Furthermore, some boxes have a switch to get the output based on the Mach factor, where the Mach factor is simply described as being a "variant" of the load average. Then what exactly is the "Mach Factor"?

Thank you for your help.
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ATRUN(8)						    BSD System Manager's Manual 						  ATRUN(8)

atrun -- run jobs queued for later execution SYNOPSIS
atrun [-l load_avg] [-d] DESCRIPTION
Atrun runs jobs queued by at(1). Root's crontab(5) file /etc/crontab has to contain the line */5 * * * * root /usr/libexec/atrun so that atrun gets invoked every five minutes. At every invocation, atrun will start all the jobs in the lowercase queues whose start time has elapsed. In addition, if the load average over the last minute was less than the specified limit then a maximum of one batch job (denoted by the uppercase queues) is started. Before starting a job, atrun will check the status of its owner's account with pam(3) and refuse to run the job if the account is unavail- able, e.g., locked out or expired. OPTIONS
-l load_avg Specify a limiting load factor, over which batch jobs should not be run, instead of the default of 1.5 * number of active CPUs. -d Debug; print error messages to standard error instead of using syslog(3). WARNINGS
For atrun to work, you have to start up a cron(8) daemon. FILES
/etc/pam.d/atrun pam.conf(5) configuration file for atrun /var/at/jobs Directory containing job files /var/at/spool Directory containing output spool files SEE ALSO
at(1), crontab(1), pam(3), syslog(3), crontab(5), pam.conf(5), cron(8) BUGS
The functionality of atrun should be merged into cron(8). BSD
October 30, 2012 BSD

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