The load average is shown in many different graphical and terminal utilities, including in the top command. However, the easiest, most standardized way to see your load average is to run the uptime command in a terminal. This command shows your computer’s load average as well as how long it’s been powered on.
load average readout:
load average: 1.05, 0.70, 5.09
From left to right, these numbers show you the average load over the last one minute, the last five minutes, and the last fifteen minutes. In other words, the above output means:
load average over the last 1 minute: 1.05
load average over the last 5 minutes: 0.70
load average over the last 15 minutes: 5.09
What Does it means ?
Assuming you’re using a single-CPU system, the numbers tell us that:
over the last 1 minute: The computer was overloaded by 5% on average. On average, .05 processes were waiting for the CPU. (1.05)
over the last 5 minutes: The CPU idled for 30% of the time. (0.70)
over the last 15 minutes: The computer was overloaded by 409% on average. On average, 4.09 processes were waiting for the CPU. (5.09)
if you have a load average of 2 on a single-CPU system, this means your system was overloaded by 100 percent — the entire period of time, one process was using the CPU while one other process was waiting. On a system with two CPUs, this would be complete usage — two different processes were using two different CPUs the entire time. On a system with four CPUs, this would be half usage — two processes were using two CPUs, while two CPUs were sitting idle.
To understand the load average number, you need to know how many CPUs your system has. A load average of 6.03 would indicate a system with a single CPU was massively overloaded, but it would be fine on a computer with 8 CPUs.