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The Time+ column in my top command is not reporting the correct time for a running php script. It fluctuates up and down first reporting something like

22:39.35 php

And then three seconds later reporting

7:12.41 php

And then another three seconds later reporting

42:44.21 php

Any clues as to why this is occurring?


I hit "c" to toggle the name of the process so I know it's the same process. The time is still being reported incorrectly.

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You're 100% sure you were looking at the same process ID each time? – David Schwartz Nov 23 '11 at 21:34
Yes, it seems like it's something out of the twilight zone. However this time fluctuation only occurs with this particular script, all the others are correctly reported. – user784637 Nov 23 '11 at 21:38
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Are you certain these are the same php processes? I bet you have multiple php processes that are "jumping on top".

If you want to better and easily monitor all php processes, I recommend using 'htop' much easier for what you are looking at.

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Yah I hit "C" to toggle the name of the process... – user784637 Nov 23 '11 at 22:29

By default top sorts by %CPU, so you're going to see the process in the list move around. Use the < key repeatedly to move the sort column over to PID and the list will stop "jumping around" (at least, as long as new processes aren't stopping or starting). Alternatively, do a ps p PID u (substituting in the PID of the php process of interest) to see just that process in a ps listing. If the time isn't "jumping around" there then you're likely seeing an artifact of sorting in top.

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That value is calculated by taking the 14th field from /proc//stat which the kernel manages.

The value in question -- as far as I understand it -- only ever increases in 'jiffies' (effectively 100ths of a second).

Can you cat the value of /proc//stat for that pid ten seconds after one another?

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