We've got a server that occassionally becomes temporarily useless
because the load average shoots up to around 150.0 or so, and then slowly
winds down over a 2 minute period. I cannot seem to find the process which
is putting so much load on the machine. I've tried running top with the q
switch, as well as the "I" switch, and when top opens, I can't see
anything consuming large amounts of CPU power or consuming much memory,
but the load average will be incredibly high. There isn't anything unusual
in /var/log/messages to indicate anything which might be causing the load
average to go shooting through the ceiling.
This happens for about a minute, and then the machine comes back slowly
again after a period of about 2 minutes.
Does anyone have any ideas how we can figure out what process/processes
might be doing this? We're running FreeBSD 3.4, and it's running as a
mailserver with Sendmail.
We know that the machine
needs to be reloaded with something newer, but this is a big production
machine and we've got a lot of engineering to do before we can get it up,
so yes, upgrading the OS will happen soon, but until then, we would really
like to trace this problem.
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