Using the 'top' system performance tool

top provides an ongoing look at processor activity in real time. It displays a listing of the most CPU-intensive tasks on the system, and can provide an interactive interface for manipulating processes. It can sort the tasks by CPU usage, memory usage and runtime. can be better configured than the standard top from the procps suite. Most features can either be selected by an interactive command or by specifying the feature in the personal or system-wide configuration file. See below for more information.

Top Command
  • Realtime Options:
    If you press 'h' or enter '?', you are presented with a list of available options:
    Help for Interactive Commands - procps version 3.2.8
    Window 1:Def: Cumulative mode Off. System: Delay 3.0 secs; Secure mode Off.

    Z,B Global: 'Z' change color mappings; 'B' disable/enable bold
    l,t,m Toggle Summaries: 'l' load avg; 't' task/cpu stats; 'm' mem info
    1,I Toggle SMP view: '1' single/separate states; 'I' Irix/Solaris mode

    f,o . Fields/Columns: 'f' add or remove; 'o' change display order
    F or O . Select sort field
    <,> . Move sort field: '<' next col left; '>' next col right
    R,H . Toggle: 'R' normal/reverse sort; 'H' show threads
    c,i,S . Toggle: 'c' cmd name/line; 'i' idle tasks; 'S' cumulative time
    x,y . Toggle highlights: 'x' sort field; 'y' running tasks
    z,b . Toggle: 'z' color/mono; 'b' bold/reverse (only if 'x' or 'y')
    u . Show specific user only
    n or # . Set maximum tasks displayed

    k,r Manipulate tasks: 'k' kill; 'r' renice
    d or s Set update interval
    W Write configuration file
    q Quit
    ( commands shown with '.' require a visible task display window )
    Press 'h' or '?' for help with Windows,


For the first time user the information may be a bit daunting but by spending a little time with http://www.google.com/linux finding out about PID, zombies etc.

Note: this could open a hole new world of information.


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