Iostat is a valuable Linux command-line utility that provides detailed information about your system’s CPU and disk I/O performance. It is part of the sysstat package and offers real-time insights into the utilization of your system’s resources, allowing you to identify bottlenecks and optimize performance. In this article, we will cover the basics of iostat, explore its various options, and provide practical examples to help you get started.
What is iostat?
Iostat (Input/Output Statistics) is a Linux command-line utility that collects and displays statistics about the CPU and disk I/O performance. It provides valuable insights into the efficiency and usage of your system’s resources, making it an indispensable tool for Linux system administrators and performance analysts.
Iostat is part of the sysstat package, which may already be installed on your Linux distribution. If not, you can easily install it using the package manager for your distribution:
- For Debian/Ubuntu-based systems:
sudo apt-get install sysstat
- For RHEL/CentOS/Fedora-based systems:
sudo yum install sysstat
The basic syntax of the iostat command is as follows:
- options: Flags that modify the behavior of the command or specify the type of information to display.
- devices: The devices for which you want to display I/O statistics. By default, iostat shows statistics for all devices.
- interval: The time interval (in seconds) between updates. By default, iostat displays a single report.
- count: The number of updates to display before exiting. By default, iostat will continue running indefinitely if an interval is specified.
To display basic CPU and disk I/O statistics, simply run the command without any options:
Understanding iostat Output
The output of the iostat command is divided into two sections: CPU statistics and device statistics.
%user: The percentage of time the CPU spent executing user-level processes.
%nice: The percentage of time the CPU spent executing user-level processes with a positive nice value.
%system: The percentage of time the CPU spent executing system-level processes.
%iowait: The percentage of time the CPU spent waiting for I/O operations to complete.
%steal: The percentage of time the CPU spent in involuntary wait while the hypervisor serviced another virtual processor.
%idle: The percentage of time the CPU was idle.
Device: The name of the device (e.g., sda, sdb).
tps: The number of transfers per second (I/O requests) sent to the device.
kB_read/s: The number of kilobytes read from the device per second.
kB_wrtn/s: The number of kilobytes written to the device per second.
kB_read: The total number of kilobytes read from the device.
kB_wrtn: The total number of kilobytes written to the device.
- Monitor I/O statistics for specific devices (e.g., sda and sdb) every 2 seconds:
iostat -d sda sdb 2
- Display extended disk I/O statistics:
- Display only CPU-related statistics:
- Display I/O statistics for all devices and include a timestamp for each report:
- Display the average statistics since the system was last booted:
- Monitor I/O statistics for specific devices (e.g., sda and sdb) every 5 seconds for a total of 10 updates:
iostat sda sdb 5 10
Interpreting iostat Output
Understanding the output of iostat is essential for identifying performance issues and optimizing your system. Here are some guidelines to help you interpret the results:
- High %iowait: A high %iowait value indicates that the CPU is spending a significant amount of time waiting for I/O operations to complete. This could be a sign of an I/O bottleneck, which may require optimizing your applications, upgrading your storage system, or distributing the load across multiple disks.
- High tps: A high number of transfers per second (tps) suggests that the disk is experiencing heavy I/O activity. If the tps value is consistently high, consider optimizing your applications, upgrading your storage system, or distributing the load across multiple disks.
- High kB_read/s and kB_wrtn/s: High values for kB_read/s and kB_wrtn/s indicate that the disk is reading and writing a large amount of data. If these values are consistently high, it may be an indication of an I/O bottleneck, which may require optimizing your applications or upgrading your storage system.
- High %user and %system: High values for %user and %system suggest that the CPU is spending a significant amount of time executing user and system processes. If these values are consistently high, consider optimizing your applications or upgrading your CPU.
Iostat is a powerful and versatile monitoring tool for Linux systems, providing valuable insights into CPU and disk I/O performance. By understanding the output of iostat and using it to diagnose potential performance issues, you can optimize your system and ensure that it runs smoothly and efficiently.