I've googled the results, and I've seen a couple posts from people who claim that the general rule of thumb is that your load average should be less than the number of CPU's. I don't know what OS they were referring to, however. Does this sound right for FreeBSD? Are there better ways of monitoring load average?
If the load average is greater than the # of CPU's, your machine is CPU-bound and tasks are waiting to get processor time.
If that's because the machine is a busy server, one ought to add more resources or rebalance the load. If this happens because you're running a screensaver or setiathome, you probably don't care. :-)
I use a warning system which notifies me (via email) if the 5-minute load average on one of my servers goes too high, which I've set at 2.5 for single-proc machines, 4.5 for dual-procs, and 7 for the single quad-proc box I've got. YMMV.
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