June 2009

Need to monitor Linux server performance? Try these built-in commands and a few add-on tools. Most Linux distributions are equipped with tons of monitoring. These tools provide metrics which can be used to get information about system activities. You can use these tools to find the possible causes of a performance problem. The commands discussed below are some of the most basic commands when it comes to system analysis and debugging server issues such as:

  1. Finding out bottlenecks.
  2. Disk (storage) bottlenecks.
  3. CPU and memory bottlenecks.
  4. Network bottlenecks.

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Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. — Albert Einstein.

Here are a few mistakes that I made while working at UNIX prompt. Some mistakes caused me a good amount of downtime. Most of these mistakes are from my early days as a UNIX admin.

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If you do not control or throttle end users, your server may run out of resources. Spammers, abuser and badly written bots can eat up all your bandwidth. A webserver must keep an eye on connections and limit connections per second. This is serving 101. The default is no limit. Lighttpd can limit the throughput for each single connection (per IP) or for all connections. You also need to a use firewall to limit connections per second. In this article I will cover firewall and lighttpd web server settings to throttle end users. The firewall settings can be applied to other web servers such as Apache / Nginx and IIS server behind PF / netfilter based firewall.

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Apache Security Update – a flaw In Apache can be used to carry out DoS. Slowloris is a new Apache DoS tool which can use slow Internet links to bring down Apache servers, rather than flooding networks. Most D/DoS tool requires faster net connections but this tool works with minimal bandwidth. This tool can lead to a DoS attack on Apache 1.x, 2.x, dhttpd, GoAhead WebServer, and Squid, while MS IIS6.0, IIS7.0, and lighttpd are confirmed not vulnerable to this attack.

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Great article.

“After The Software Wars”, is a new book in which former Microsoft employee Keith Curtis explores the worlds of proprietary and free software. Quoting from the article:

While I came to not be all that thrilled with Fedora itself, I was floored merely by the installation process. It contained a graphical installer that ran all the way to completion, it resized my NTFS partition — which I considered a minor miracle, setup dual boot, and actually did boot, and let me surf the Web. I didn’t have a clue what to do next, but the mere fact that this all worked told me more about the potential of Linux than anything I had read so far. You cannot, by accident, build an airplane that actually flies.

=> How a Microsoft veteran learned to love Linux, and why it matters

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This is an interesting visualization techniques for software analysis. From the article:

Despite being a very important part of any operating system, file systems tend to get little attention. Linux has three editions for Linux Device Drivers, another three for Understanding the Linux Kernel and two for Linux Kernel Development. The first is a detail analysis of one particular Linux Kernel tree and the second is a shorter one done over a large number of file systems from Linux Kernel 2.6.0 to 2.6.29. After that there is a small section that shows some aspects of the BSD family. After conclusions there is an appendix consisting of three things: the first one explains how the file systems for Linux were compiled, the second one shows timelines for the releases of Linux Kernel, FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD; the last is a detailed map of the external symbols of the kernel modules analyzed in the second section.

A Visual Expedition Inside the Linux File Systems

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Fedora Linux version 11 has been released and available for download ( jump to download link ). Fedora Linux is a community-based Linux distribution. Fedora is sponsored by Red Hat, Inc.

One of Fedora’s main objectives is not only to contain free and open source software, but also to be on the leading edge of such technologies. Fedora 11, codenamed “Leonidas”, was released on June 9, 2009. The features include ext4, a 20-second startup, and the latest GNOME, KDE and XFCE releases. Firefox 3.5 and Thunderbird 3′s latest pre-releases are available as well.

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