How to show top five CPU consuming processes with ps?
The correct answer is:
ps --sort=-pcpu | head -n 6
So you can specify columns without interfering with sorting.
ps -Ao user,uid,comm,pid,pcpu,tty --sort=-pcpu | head -n 6
Note for MAC OS X: In Mac OS X,
ps doesn't recognize
--sort, but offers
-r to sort by current CPU usage. Thus, for Mac OS X you can use:
ps -Ao user,uid,comm,pid,pcpu,tty -r | head -n 6
Depending on your needs you may find this a little more readable:
ps -eo pcpu,pid,user,args --no-headers| sort -t. -nk1,2 -k4,4 -r |head -n 5
1.3 4 root [ksoftirqd/0] 1.1 9 root [ksoftirqd/1] 1.0 17606 nobody /usr/sbin/gmetad 1.0 13 root [ksoftirqd/2] 0.3 17401 nobody /usr/sbin/gmond
(the fields are %CPU,PID,USER,COMMAND)
I don't think
ps is what you are looking for. Have you looked at the output from
If you have GNU-Top, try using it's batch mode to spit out a process list sorted by cpu usage and using head/tail to get the top 5 lines (the first 8 are headers):
top -b -n 1 | head -n 12 | tail -n 5
The BSD top seems to behave differently and doesn't have a non-interactive mode, so use one of the other
ps based solutions.
In order to add a point to other valuable answers, I prefer:
ps auxk-c | head -6
It also prints the header, which is nice.
k is identical to
c specifies CPU usage (alias
%cpu) field for sort, while
- is for reverse sort.
You may add more specifiers separated by
,, other possible specifiers are :
uid ... which you can find full list in STANDARD FORMAT SPECIFIERS section of man page. For example:
ps auxk -gid,-%mem | head -11
would print 10 processes with highest group id, internally sorted by memory usage.
Note that current versions of ps have sorting ability within them, based on field codes (given in the ps man page). The field code for processor usage is "c". You can use
--sort c at the end of a ps command e.g.
ps aux --sort c
This will put the process using the most cpu at the bottom of the list. Reverse order of the list by adding a minus to the field code used to sort e.g.
ps aux --sort -c
Here is something I came up with as I found the original answer a bit too arcane. so, for bare bones, type
ps -e -o pid,cmd,%cpu,%mem --sort=-%cpu | head -n 6
Let's understand what each does.
ps ofcourse shows a snapshot of current processes.
-e shows every process on the system
-o is to define the format we want the result in, as you can see we have specified the format as
--sort ofcourse, sorts. One important point to note here is that by default it sorts ascending. Also
--sort needs the parameter to sort by, which we provide by
-%cpu notice the
- this is so that it sorts descending and we get the highest CPU usage first. Then we pipe this into
head -n 6 which gives us the this
PID CMD %CPU %MEM 5995 transmission-gtk 5.1 1.3 402083 /usr/lib64/firefox/firefox 4.2 6.7 978875 /usr/lib64/firefox/firefox 3.6 4.0 2982 /usr/bin/gnome-shell 2.7 3.0 2774 /usr/libexec/Xorg vt2 -disp 1.9 1.0
Now that we understand the basics we can show off a little. For example you can use
watch to update the list every 2 seconds like this
watch "ps -e -o pid,cmd,%cpu,%mem --sort=-%cpu | head -n 6"
Or, for something fancier, you can install a python package called
tabulate, type this in your terminal
pip install tabulate, now you can really show off, using some
sed fu etc
ps -e -o pid,cmd,%cpu,%mem --sort=-%cpu | head -n 5 | tabulate -1 -f github | cut -f 2- -d "|" | sed '2s/----/ /'
which gives this beautiful output -
| PID | CMD | %CPU | %MEM | |--------|----------------------------|--------|--------| | 5995 | transmission-gtk | 5.1 | 1.3 | | 978875 | /usr/lib64/firefox/firefox | 4.5 | 4.1 | | 402083 | /usr/lib64/firefox/firefox | 4.2 | 6.7 | | 2982 | /usr/bin/gnome-shell | 2.7 | 3 |
for ease of use and avoid typing this command over and over you can
alias them into your
.bashrc like this
alias top5="ps -e -o pid,cmd,%cpu,%mem --sort=-%cpu | head -n 6"
source .bashrc you can just type
Or, you can just use
htop and sort by
%CPU htop also allows you to kill processes and much more.
I believe the simplest way to see top 5 cpu consuming process is,
ps -eo pid,comm,%cpu,%mem --sort=-%cpu | head -n 5
To see top 5 memory consuming process is,
ps -eo pid,comm,%cpu,%mem --sort=-%mem | head -n 5
-e : This flag is used to select all process
-o : This flag is used to format as user-defined.
pid : This argument used for showing pid
comm: This argument used for showing command name only. To get full command use
%cpu: This argument shows the percentage of cpu utilization of the process in "##.#" format. Here
pcpu can also be used.
%mem: This argument shows the ratio of the process's resident set size to the physical memory on the machine, expressed as a percentage. Here
pmem can also be used.
--sort: Specify sorting order. After
- sign is used to sort highest value at the top where the default option which is
+ is to list increasing numerical order [i.e 0 to n].
top on Mac OS X has a logging mode option in the form of
top -l numberOfSamples (which seems to be the equivalent to the batch mode of GNU
top). It is necessary, though, to have at least two samples because "the first sample displayed will have an invalid %CPU displayed for each process, as it is calculated using the delta between samples" (
man 1 top).
# examples top -o cpu -l 2 -n 5 | tail -n 6 top -o cpu -l 2 -n 5 -stats pid,command,cpu | tail -n 6 top -o cpu -l 2 -n 5 -stats pid,command,cpu -U $(logname) | tail -n 6