Zbigniew Szalbot wrote:

2008/2/27, Mark Tinguely <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>:
 >  >From the MRTG data I can see that suddenly on a currently not very
 >  busy machine the load averege went over 15 or more. This happened
 >  around 10 in the morning. Not many entries in httpd access log, smtp
 >  server was not too much loaded (at that time it generally produces a
 >  load average of about 1).

By any chance, do you run SpamAssassin? I have seen load average bursts with
 SA. It seems to me that spam sites are bursting spam to attempt to bring
 down the anti-spam filters.

 As mentioned by others a "ps" (or I prefer "pstree") list will help
 solve the issue.

Thanks. I do have SA but I studied the logs carefully and no outside
connections, except for one with a vary small message desitined for
mailman subscription arrived at around that time.

Is it possible that there's a message in your queue that's *being processed*, so it may have arrived earlier than near that time and causes the spike?

What tests is SA running? Or something with your DNS settings that is holding up SA while trying to look something up?
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