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If monitoring shows a jump in CPU load on your main production server and the box is slow to respond, what actions should I take? What commands should I run or how do I troubleshoot this?

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You can install process accounting package if you have kernel supporting process accounting. Later on with commands like lastcomm, sa, or atop you can check what is/was going on.

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Run the top command.

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And ps and a number of other things. –  ceejayoz Oct 7 '11 at 18:07

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