MirBSD manpage: top(1)

TOP(1)                       BSD Reference Manual                       TOP(1)


     top - display and update information about the top CPU processes


     top [-bIinqSu] [-d count] [-o field] [-p pid] [-s time] [-U username]


     top displays the top processes on the system and periodically updates
     this information. If standard output is an intelligent terminal (see
     below) then as many processes as will fit on the terminal screen are
     displayed by default. Otherwise, a good number of them are shown (around
     20). Raw CPU percentage is used to rank the processes. If number is
     given, then the top number processes will be displayed instead of the de-

     top makes a distinction between terminals that support advanced capabili-
     ties and those that do not. This distinction affects the choice of de-
     faults for certain options. In the remainder of this document, an
     intelligent terminal is one that supports cursor addressing, clear
     screen, and clear to end of line. Conversely, a "dumb" terminal is one
     that does not support such features. If the output of top is redirected
     to a file, it acts as if it were being run on a dumb terminal.

     The options are as follows:

     -b      Use batch mode. In this mode, all input from the terminal is ig-
             nored. Interrupt characters (such as '^C' and '^\') still have an
             effect. This is the default on a dumb terminal, or when the out-
             put is not a terminal.

     -d count
             Show only count displays, then exit. A display is considered to
             be one update of the screen. This option allows the user to
             select the number of displays to be shown before top automatical-
             ly exits. For intelligent terminals, no upper limit is set. The
             default is 1 for dumb terminals.

     -I      Do not display idle processes. By default, top displays both ac-
             tive and idle processes.

     -i      Use interactive mode. In this mode, any input is immediately read
             for processing. See the section on INTERACTIVE MODE for an expla-
             nation of which keys perform what functions. After the command is
             processed, the screen will immediately be updated, even if the
             command was not understood. This mode is the default when stan-
             dard output is an intelligent terminal.

     -n      Use non-interactive mode. This is identical to batch mode.

     -o field
             Sort the process display area using the specified field as the
             primary key. The field name is the name of the column as seen in
             the output, but in lower case. The OpenBSD version of top sup-
             ports cpu, size, res, time, and pri.

     -p pid  Show only the process pid.

     -q      Renice top to -20 so that it will run faster. This can be used
             when the system is being very sluggish to improve the possibility
             of discovering the problem. This option can only be used by root.

     -S      Show system processes in the display. Normally, system processes
             such as the pager and the swapper are not shown. This option
             makes them visible.

     -s time
             Set the delay between screen updates to time seconds. The value
             may be fractional, to permit delays of less than 1 second. The
             default delay between updates is 5 seconds.

     -U username
             Show only those processes owned by username. This option current-
             ly only accepts usernames and will not understand UID numbers.

     -u      Do not take the time to map UID numbers to usernames. Normally,
             top will read as much of the password database as is necessary to
             map all the user ID numbers it encounters into login names. This
             option disables all that, while possibly decreasing execution
             time. The UID numbers are displayed instead of the names.

     Both count and number fields can be specified as infinite, indicating
     that they can stretch as far as possible. This is accomplished by using
     any proper prefix of the keywords infinity, maximum, or all. The default
     for count on an intelligent terminal is, in fact, infinity.

     The environment variable TOP is examined for options before the command
     line is scanned. This enables a user to set his or her own defaults. The
     number of processes to display can also be specified in the environment
     variable TOP.

     The options -I, -S, and -u are actually toggles. A second specification
     of any of these options will negate the first. Thus a user who has the
     environment variable TOP set to "-I" may use the command "top -I" to see
     idle processes.


     When top is running in interactive mode, it reads commands from the ter-
     minal and acts upon them accordingly. In this mode, the terminal is put
     in CBREAK, so that a character will be processed as soon as it is typed.
     Almost always, a key will be pressed when top is between displays; that
     is, while it is waiting for time seconds to elapse. If this is the case,
     the command will be processed and the display will be updated immediately
     thereafter (reflecting any changes that the command may have specified).
     This happens even if the command was incorrect. If a key is pressed while
     top is in the middle of updating the display, it will finish the update
     and then process the command. Some commands require additional informa-
     tion, and the user will be prompted accordingly. While typing this infor-
     mation in, the user's erase and kill keys (as set up by the command
     stty(1)) are recognized, and a newline terminates the input.

     These commands are currently recognized (^L refers to control-L):

     h or ?  Display a summary of the commands (help screen).

     ^L      Redraw the screen.

     q       Quit top.

     The following commands may not be available with overstrike terminals:

     C       Toggle the display of process command line arguments.

     d       Change the number of displays to show (prompt for new number).
             Remember that the next display counts as one, so typing "d1" will
             make top show one final display and then immediately exit.

     e       Display a list of system errors (if any) generated by the last
             kill or renice command.

     I or i  Toggle the display of idle processes.

     k       Send a signal (TERM by default) to a list of processes. This acts
             similarly to the command kill(1).

     n or #  Change the number of processes to display (prompt for new

     o       Change the sorting order of the processes (prompt for order).
             Values are the same as for the -o flag, as detailed above.

     p       Display a specific process (prompt for PID). If the PID specified
             is simply "+", then processes belonging to all users will be

     r       Change the priority (the nice) of a list of processes (prompt for
             the new nice value and the list of PIDs, all separated by space).
             This acts similarly to the command renice(8).

     S       Toggle the display of system processes.

     s       Change the number of seconds to delay between displays (prompt
             for new number).

     u       Display only processes owned by a specific username (prompt for
             username). If the username specified is simply "+", then
             processes belonging to all users will be displayed.


     The top few lines of the display show general information about the state
     of the system, including the three load average numbers, the current
     time, the number of existing processes, the number of processes in each
     state (starting, running, idle, stopped, zombie, dead, and on processor),
     and a percentage of time spent in each of the processor states (user,
     nice, system, interrupt, and idle). It also includes information about
     physical and virtual memory allocation. The load average numbers give the
     number of jobs in the run queue averaged over 1, 5, and 15 minutes.

     The remainder of the screen displays information about individual
     processes. This display is similar in spirit to ps(1) but it is not ex-
     actly the same. The following fields are displayed:

           PID       The process ID.

           USERNAME  The name of the process's owner.

           UID       Used instead of USERNAME if -u is specified.

           PRI       The current priority of the process.

           NICE      The nice amount (in the range -20 to 20).

           SIZE      The total size of the process (the text, data, and stack

           RES       The current amount of resident memory.

           STATE     The current state (one of start, run, sleep, stop, idle,
                     zomb, dead, or onproc). On multi-processor systems, this
                     is followed by a slash and the CPU number on which the
                     process is bound.

           WAIT      A description of the wait channel the process is sleeping
                     on if it's asleep.

           TIME      The number of system and user CPU seconds that the pro-
                     cess has used.

           CPU       The raw percentage of CPU usage and the default field on
                     which the display is sorted.

           COMMAND   The name of the command that the process is currently
                     running. (If the process is swapped out, this column is
                     enclosed by angle brackets.)


     TOP              User-configurable defaults for options.


     /dev/kmem                         kernel memory
     /dev/mem                          physical memory
     /etc/passwd                       used to map user ID to name
     /bsd                              kernel image


     kill(1), ps(1), stty(1), systat(1), mem(4), renice(8)


     William LeFebvre, EECS Department, Northwestern University


     As with ps(1), things can change while top is collecting information for
     an update. The picture it gives is only a close approximation to reality.

MirBSD #10-current             August 14, 1997                               3

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