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Linux Tutorial - System Monitoring - What the System Is Doing Now - Checking Other Things
  Files and File Systems ---- Big Brother  


Checking Other Things

UNIX performance tuning is often considered a black art. I've talked with many customers who call in to tech support, expecting that we will say a few magic words, wave our wizards wand, and then abracadabra, their systems will run better. This misconception is often compounded by the fact that support engineers often don't have the time to go into long, detailed explanations and instead quickly look over output from various system utilities and tell the customer to increase kernel parameter X or change setting Y. Miraculously, the system instantly runs better. From the customers stand point, this is "magic."

Well, not really. Some customers do express their frustration at not being able to improve the situation themselves. This is not because they aren't smart enough, but it is the same reason why many people take their cars to a mechanic for a tune-up. By comparison to replacing the block, a tune-up is a relatively simple procedure. However, many people don't have the skills to do it themselves.

This applies to system tuning as well. Because many customers do not have the skills, they turn to the mechanic to do it for them. I remember when I was about 18 and had a couple of friends who were real car enthusiasts. When their cars suddenly started making strange sounds, I can still remember them saying that the franistan had come loose from the rastulator. Well, at least that's what it sounded like to me at the time. The reason why I couldn't figure that out myself was that I didn't have the training or experience. However, they had the experience and could tell what the problem was just by listening to the car. My not being able to tell what was wrong with a car just by listening to it, is the same as many system administrators, who don't have the training or experience to tune an Linux system. However, you can.

Although a site like this one cannot provide the experience, it can provide some of the training. Keeping with the car analogy, I've talked about the transmissions, the breaks, the drive shaft, the electrical system, and even the principles of the internal combustion engine. With that knowledge, you can now understand why it is necessary to have clean spark plugs or the proper mixture of air and gasoline.

With a cars engine, you often get a "feeling" for its proper behavior. When it starts to misbehave, you know something is wrong, even though you may not know how to fix it. The same applies in principle to a Linux system, though many garages can afford the high-tech equipment that plugs your into you car and shows you what the car is doing. From there, it is a simple step for the mechanic to determine the proper course of action. What you need for a Linux system is a tool that does the same thing.

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Copyright 2002-2009 by James Mohr. Licensed under modified GNU Free Documentation License (Portions of this material originally published by Prentice Hall, Pearson Education, Inc). See here for details. All rights reserved.
  
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