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Nice value of long running procs increases

Strange things happen on my sparc with 2.3. Processes like top and xeyes
increase their nice value from 0 to 4 after running for a few days, even
if the machine is completely idle. I never saw this on a i386 or mac68k
box. And I do not like this feature, since top stops working if the load
average exceeds 8. Can this be turned off?