Section: Maintenance Commands (8)
Updated: 1997 August 19
Index Return to Main Contents


sa - summarizes accounting information  


[ -a | --list-all-names ]
[ -b | --sort-sys-user-div-calls ]
[ -c | --percentages ] [ -f | --not-interactive ]
[ -i | --dont-read-summary-file ]
[ -j | --print-seconds ] [ -k | --sort-cpu-avmem ]
[ -K | --sort-ksec ] [ -l | --separate-times ]
[ -m | --user-summary ] [ -n | --sort-num-calls ]
[ -r | --reverse-sort ] [ -s | --merge ]
[ -t | --print-ratio ] [ -u | --print-users ]
[ -v num | --threshold num ] [ --sort-real-time ]
[ --debug ] [ -V | --version ] [ -h | --help ]
[ --other-usracct-file filename ]
[ --other-savacct-file filename ]
[ [ --other-acct-file ] filename ]


sa summarizes information about previously executed commands as recorded in the acct file. In addition, it condenses this data into a summary file named savacct which contains the number of times the command was called and the system resources used. The information can also be summarized on a per-user basis; sa will save this information into a file named usracct.

If no arguments are specified, sa will print information about all of the commands in the acct file.

If called with a file name as the last argument, sa will use that file instead of the system's default acct file.

By default, sa will sort the output by sum of user and system time. If command names have unprintable characters, or are only called once, sa will sort them into a group called `***other'. If more than one sorting option is specified, the list will be sorted by the one specified last on the command line.

The output fields are labeled as follows:


 sum of system and user time in cpu seconds

 "real time" in cpu seconds

 cpu-time averaged core usage, in 1k units

 cpu storage integral (kilo-core seconds)

 user cpu time in cpu seconds

 system time in cpu seconds

An asterisk will appear after the name of commands that forked but didn't call exec.

GNU sa takes care to implement a number of features not found in other versions. For example, most versions of sa don't pay attention to flags like `--print-seconds' and `--sort-num-calls' when printing out commands when combined with the `--user-summary' or `--print-users' flags. GNU sa pays attention to these flags if they are applicable. Also, MIPS' sa stores the average memory use as a short rather than a double, resulting in some round-off errors. GNU sa uses double the whole way through.  


-a, --list-all-names
Force sa not to sort those command names with unprintable characters and those used only once into the ***other group.
-b, --sort-sys-user-div-calls
Sort the output by the sum of user and system time divided by the number of calls.
-c, --percentages
Print percentages of total time for the command's user, system, and real time values.
-f, --not-interactive
When using the `--threshold' option, assume that all answers to interactive queries will be affirmative.
-i, --dont-read-summary-file
Don't read the information in the system's default savacct file.
-j, --print-seconds
Instead of printing total minutes for each category, print seconds per call.
-k, --sort-cpu-avmem
Sort the output by cpu time average memory usage.
-K, --sort-ksec
Print and sort the output by the cpu-storage integral.
-l, --separate-times
Print separate columns for system and user time; usually the two are added together and listed as `cpu'.
-m, --user-summary
Print the number of processes and number of CPU minutes on a per-user basis.
-n, --sort-num-calls
Sort the output by the number of calls. This is the default sorting method.
-r, --reverse-sort
Sort output items in reverse order.
-s, --merge
Merge the summarized accounting data into the summary files savacct and usracct.
-t, --print-ratio
For each entry, print the ratio of real time to the sum of system and user times. If the sum of system and user times is too small to report--the sum is zero--`*ignore*' will appear in this field.
-u, --print-users
For each command in the accounting file, print the userid and command name. After printing all entries, quit. *Note*: this flag supersedes all others.
-v num --threshold num
Print commands which were executed num times or fewer and await a reply from the terminal. If the response begins with `y', add the command to the `**junk**' group.
It really doesn't make any sense to me that the stock version of sa separates statistics for a particular executable depending on whether or not that command forked. Therefore, GNU sa lumps this information together unless this option is specified.
Print verbose internal information.
-V, --version
Print the version number of sa.
-h, --help
Prints the usage string and default locations of system files to standard output and exits.
Sort the output by the "real time" field.
--other-usracct-file filename
Write summaries by user ID to filename rather than the system's default usracct file.
--other-savacct-file filename
Write summaries by command name to filename rather than the system's default SAVACCT file.
--other-file filename
Read from the file filename instead of the system's default ACCT file.


The raw system wide process accounting file. See acct(5) (or pacct(5)) for further details.
A summary of system process accounting sorted by command.
A summary of system process accounting sorted by user ID.



There is not yet a wide experience base for comparing the output of GNU sa with versions of sa in many other systems. The problem is that the data files grow big in a short time and therefore require a lot of disk space.



The GNU accounting utilities were written by Noel Cragg <>. The man page was adapted from the accounting texinfo page by Susan Kleinmann <>.  


acct(5), ac(8)



SEE ALSO manual pages