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I want to measure the system load on my Ubuntu media center computer. What commands and utilities are available? I've explored the w, top, iostat, and uptime commands. Anything else I could use?

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try "sar" from the sysstat package. It'll record every 10 mins and give you a historical view.

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  • +1 for sar, it has a multitude of options and, as well as showing regular snapshots throughout the day you can use it interactively to show a specified number of snapshots at specified intervals (e.g 5 at 10 sec intervals). There are also 3rd party tools that (I think) make recommendations based on sar. E.g. sarcheck Jun 6 '11 at 10:25
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htop is a bit more interactive way for viewing your processes. It is almost like an improved version of top.

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Use top.

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  • Thats it ? Just one option? Jun 6 '11 at 4:52
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    Yep, because it's the right tool for measuring system load, which was your question. Now that you've edited your question to be more specific about what you've already tried, you could explain why something like top isn't sufficient for your needs.
    – Brian Kelly
    Jun 6 '11 at 4:55
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uptime is maybe the simplest way to get the CPU load. This information is mirrored in the special file /proc/loadavg.

iostat tells you the load on the IO subsystem.

Load can mean many different things, however. Depending on what you need, it could be the amount of thrashing in the virtual memory system, the load on the network interface, etc. But if all you want is an aggregate, the above two utilities are a good start.

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The vmstat program can get you a time-series record of system performance.

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