Linux Time Command
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The time command is used to determine how long a given command takes to run. It is useful for testing the performance of your scripts and commands.
For example, if you have two different scripts doing the same job and you want to know which one performs better you can use the Linux time command to determine the duration of execution of each script.
Time Command Versions
Both Bash and Zsh, the most widely used Linux shells have their own built-in versions of the time command which take precedence over the Gnu time command.
You can use the
type command to determine whether time is a binary or a built-in keyword.
# Bash time is a shell keyword # Zsh time is a reserved word # GNU time (sh) time is /usr/bin/time
To use the Gnu time command, you need to specify the full path to the time binary, usually
/usr/bin/time, use the
env command or use a leading backslash
\time which prevents both and built-ins from being used.
The Gnu time allows you to format the output and provides other useful information like memory I/O and IPC calls.
Using Linux Time Command
time wget https://cdn.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/v4.x/linux-4.19.9.tar.xz
What will be printed as an output depends on the version of the time command you’re using:
# Bash real 0m33.961s user 0m0.340s sys 0m0.940s # Zsh 0.34s user 0.94s system 4% cpu 33.961 total # GNU time (sh) 0.34user 0.94system 0:33.96elapsed 4%CPU (0avgtext+0avgdata 6060maxresident)k 0inputs+201456outputs (0major+315minor)pagefaults 0swaps
- real or total or elapsed (wall clock time) is the time from start to finish of the call. It is the time from the moment you hit the
Enterkey until the moment the
wgetcommand is completed.
- user - amount of CPU time spent in user mode.
- system or sys - amount of CPU time spent in kernel mode.
By now you should have a good understanding of how to use the time command. If you want to learn more about the Gnu time command visit the time man page.