How to Check CPU Usage in Linux Easily


Analyzing CPU usage is very important for the smooth running of any system. Sometimes CPU usage reaches 100% and due to that CPU becomes unavailable for processing other requests until the CPU becomes free. There may be multiple reasons behind high CPU usage, such as Programs with higher CPU requirements, autostart programs, multiple opened tabs of browsers, and many more reasons. In this tutorial, I am going to explain how to check CPU usage in Linux and the causes of high CPU usage in Linux. So, let’s get started.

How to Check CPU Usage in Linux

There are plenty of tools and commands to monitor CPU Usage. Let’s start with the most popular command top to find out CPU usage in Linux. In this article, I am going to discuss commonly used methods to check CPU usage.

Top command (Most common method)

The top command provides a real-time view of the system. It displays CPU utilization, process statistics, threads details, uptime, swap space, etc. All the data are filterable by size, type, and order.

Open terminal from the application launcher or press (control + alt + t) on the keyboard. Now, run the top command.

$ top

The top command will show all the running processes, threads, system uptime, number of users, the total number of running tasks, etc. To exit from top, press Q on the keyboard.

Sample output of top command.

top command output

Now let’s see how we can check the information one by one by sorting the top command with options.

Some Important Top Command Options to Check CPU Usage

PSort processes by CPU usage
IRemove idle processes
SSort the list by how long processes have been running
Msort task list by memory usage
Tsort task list by run time
Nsort task list by process id

To access the help manual of the top command, run following command.

$ man top

Check CPU Usage using htop

Htop is more like an improved version of top command with more interactive, graphical, and easier to read than top command. Htop allows you to kill the processes without PID, it makes it easier to sort the process based on the usage, etc. To install htop on the Ubuntu system, run the following command.

$ sudo apt install htop

Once the installation completed. Run the htop command.

$ htop

Sample output.

htop command output

Learn more about htop here.

CPU Activity Check using mpstat Command

The mpstat command writes to standard output activities for each available processor. Most of the RHEL based operating systems include mpstat by default. In Ubuntu, you need to install sysstat to use mpstat. Run the following command to install sysstat.

$ sudo apt install sysstat

Once the installation is completed, run mpstat command to check the CPU activity details.

$ mpstat

You should get the following output.

mpstat command output

To print from the first processor (0 is the first one) with option -p and ALL will list all the CPU statistics. The command is

$ mpstat -P ALL


how to check CPU usage in Linux


In this article, you have learned how to check CPU usage in Linux. If you have any doubts feel free to contact me, I will definitely try to help you. Also, you can join our elite facebook group to get direct help from me. If you like this tutorial, please share this article on your social media handle.


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