How to interpret CPU load on Linux

Under Linux, CPU usage is reported as a series of three decimals. The first decimal represents the average CPU load over the past minute. The second decimal is the average load over a 5 minute period. The third and final number is the average load over a 15 minute period. Using these 3 measurements you can get a sense of whether a spike was a short term occurrence or if it’s a prolonged event.

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