Load Average


 
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# 1  
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.
# 2  
It's an average, not an instantaneous number.
# 3  
<facepalm>

Thank you. While I guess this was obvious, I sometimes overlook the obvious on the assumption there is some wildly complicated answer.

Still though, can anyone define a Mach Factor? I'm just curious.
# 4  
"mach factor" is basicly cpu availability and getting close to zero is bad.
 

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