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The manual page states,

The top program provides a dynamic real-time view of a running system. It can display system summary information as well as a list of processes or threads currently being managed by the Linux kernel. The types of system summary information shown and the types, order and size of information displayed for processes are all user configurable and that configuration can be made persistent across restarts.

When running this command, it shows some processes having pid's ranging from 1 onwards. And some other processes refreshing after some time interval. What kind of those particular processes are? On what criteria top shows these threads or processes?

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Normally top shows the processes with the highest amount of cpu percentage ascending. This percentage is calculated from the last time top has refreshed. Normally this interval is 3 seconds. top is an interactive and highly configurable command.

This interval as well as the sort order (and 1000 other things) can be changed, if you want so:

  • Press d to change the interval, type 0.1 and then Enter and you will see the faster interval.
  • Press F to change the sort order, then type n - Enter. Now, the output is ordered by memory usage.
  • Press f to toggle fields. Then press r - Enter. You will now see a new field called CODE.
  • Press r to renice a process.

That's just a few examples.

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