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I am aware that I can write a cron job that will run top in batch mode and write the output to a file but I am looking for something more elegant than that. Also I am aware of sysstat (sar) but I am looking for more detailed process data.

Does something like this exist?

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What about running periodically ps? This command seems to be much more suitable for what you plan. – wazoox Feb 23 '12 at 16:37
Not sure what you mean - can you expand a little more – ckliborn Feb 23 '12 at 19:51
If a snapshot of running processes once in a while is what you're looking for, you could run ps -ef >> logfile from cron. – wazoox Feb 24 '12 at 17:50
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Look into atop, which runs a daemon and keeps historical data for every process. You made need to do some tweaking to keep an archive, but that's my other tool of choice besides sar.

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