I have a pipeline that runs some computationally intensive tasks on a Linux machine. The script that launches these checks the current load average and waits if it is above a certain threshold. I would like to ask for help determining what that threshold should be.

I am thinking of asking on SF because i) this is running on a professional environment, a ~20 CPU server (I say approximately because this is a VM and the number of CPUs varies, which is why I need to vary my threshold accordingly) and ii) this is more of a sysadmin issue than a programming one; I know how to set the average, I need help in choosing what the threshold should be. We currently allow it to be well above the number of cores and it doesn't seem to be causing any trouble.

I am not, however, a professional sysadmin as such. On the other hand, I work in a small startup and I am as much of one as anyone else around. Since I am aware of SF's scope, I though I'd ask before actually asking.

So, would such a question from a non-professional sysadmin who is nevertheless performing profesional sysadmin tasks at the moment be on topic here?

  • 1
    There is really no "standard" way to specify what this threshold should be other than answering this question: does the application performance meet your requirements? If so, then the current threshold is fine. If not, change things up.
    – EEAA
    Apr 18, 2016 at 16:39
  • @EEAA thing is I'd need to set the threshold dynamically based on the number of cores the VM has available. This number can change without warning so I'm thinking of something like $(grep -c processor /proc/cpuinfo) x N where N>=1 and would like some help in figuring out what value N should take. My limited understanding of how load works suggests that N should always be 1 but my equally limited experience shows that >1 can also work. Hence the question. Is there no commonly used heuristic for this?
    – terdon
    Apr 18, 2016 at 16:43
  • That turned into nice Q&A !
    – HBruijn
    Apr 20, 2016 at 11:58

1 Answer 1


Yah, seems like you've done your homework. Go ahead and ask.

Be sure to provide as much detail as you can, including your thought process and what you've already tried to implement thus far.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .