Linux STRESS command usage example


During high CPU usage in kernel space we have noticed brownouts on our database nodes. For finding the reason of the problem we wanted to reproduce the issue and somehow trigger high %sy usage on our nodes.

I have found stress tool very useful and want to share my experience with you.


1. Install stress tool via yum:

# yum install stress

2. Stress has several options to use:

[root@rac1 ~]# stress

`stress' imposes certain types of compute stress on your system

Usage: stress [OPTION [ARG]] ...
 -?, --help         show this help statement
     --version      show version statement
 -v, --verbose      be verbose
 -q, --quiet        be quiet
 -n, --dry-run      show what would have been done
 -t, --timeout N    timeout after N seconds
     --backoff N    wait factor of N microseconds before work starts
 -c, --cpu N        spawn N workers spinning on sqrt()
 -i, --io N         spawn N workers spinning on sync()
 -m, --vm N         spawn N workers spinning on malloc()/free()
     --vm-bytes B   malloc B bytes per vm worker (default is 256MB)
     --vm-stride B  touch a byte every B bytes (default is 4096)
     --vm-hang N    sleep N secs before free (default none, 0 is inf)
     --vm-keep      redirty memory instead of freeing and reallocating
 -d, --hdd N        spawn N workers spinning on write()/unlink()
     --hdd-bytes B  write B bytes per hdd worker (default is 1GB)

Example: stress --cpu 8 --io 4 --vm 2 --vm-bytes 128M --timeout 10s

Note: Numbers may be suffixed with s,m,h,d,y (time) or B,K,M,G (size).

To cause high %sy you need to use –vm option and find appropriate number of workers, in my case 50 workers were enough to cause an issue.

In the following example, stress will run 50 workers and timeout for the run will be 200s:

# stress --vm 50 --timeout 200s

From another terminal tab, run top command to monitor %sy usage (81.2%) :

See short video demonstration below:


About Mariami Kupatadze
Oracle Certified Master Linkedin:

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