Tload Command - Linux CPU Load Monitoring Graph

There are a number of graphical utilities like gnome-system-monitor present for checking the system performance. But sometimes you might need text based tools. This tutorial discusses the command line utility tload that can be used to view the system load graphically.

The tload command represents the pictorial representation of the average system load through ASCII graph. This command can be used to provide the graph on a terminal. It is possible to print the graph of a specified terminal. The syntax for the command is:

tload [options] [terminal]

There are only three options to this command:

  • -s SCALE option sets the scale of the graph. Lower the value of the scale, larger is the scale and vice-versa.
  • -d DELAY option sets the delay between refreshes in seconds. For example, tload -d 2 will refresh the graph every alternate second.
  • -V option outputs the version information of the corresponding package and exits.

Tload command is provided by the procps package. This package provides utilities that provide information about the processes. These utilities generally use /proc filesystem for their operation. The other utilities provided by current version of procps package are free, kill, pkill, pgrep, pmap, ps, pwdx, skill, slabtop, snice, sysctl, tload, top, uptime, vmstat, w and watch.

1. Graphic representation of system load average

The command display the representation of the average system load as a graph on the terminal represented by stars (*). If terminal is not provided as the argument to this command, then by default it outputs the graph on the current terminal. So the simple forms of this command are:

# tload

2. Set delay between graph update

It is possible to set a delay between graph update with -d option. You need to give the delay in second as below

# tload -d 1

3. Change the scale of the graph

There different characters in the tload graph output. Mostly there is star (*) but also equal (=) and hyphen signs (-).  It's just the graphical (weird) representation of the last minute load average of the system over the time:

  • the stars (*) are just the representation of the level of load average. Understand it as a classical area graph.
  • the hyphens (-) signs just define the unities of load
  • the equal sign (=) substitute the hyphen sign (-) when the bar passes the line that marks the unit of the graph. You can change the scale with the -s option.
# tload -s 10

A smaller value represents a larger scale and vice versa.

4. Display graph of another tty

It is possible to print a graph of the current system load average to a specified tty. For this, we need to indicate the tty path

$ tload -d 1 -s 10 /dev/tty2

The top of the graph shows the average load. To exit from this graph, you can hit Ctrl+c on the current terminal.

5. Run tload over the ssh based session

It is possible to run tload command over ssh session to have a graphic representation of the remote server system load average. We can need to use -t ssh's option as below to force a pseudo-terminal allocation if ssh doesn't have a local tty

# ssh -t paul@ip_server tload -d 2

You can see the graph of the server load average.

You can display the version of the command as below

# tload -V
tload from procps-ng 3.3.10


Tload is the command through which we can find the load average of the system whereas it will show the load average in the terminal with a graphical representation. It is possible to monitor the CPU of a remote server and it is useful with that command.

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