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
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.