Thursday, October 3, 2013

System Monitoring

One of the main task of a system administrator is system monitoring, system monitoring usually involves monitoring the ram & disk space usage of the system .... In this blog I'll be talking about my experience as a system admin & how I do it.

Usually system monitoring is divided into 2 parts Continuous system monitoring and troubleshooting system issues when system crosses a threshold value & you have to figure out the issue & try to resolve it.

In continuous system monitoring a system is put under continuous monitoring i.e the system ram usage is within defined limit or not, the disk space occupancy should not cross a predefined threshold .... To achieve continuous monitoring you can use couple of tools available in market such as nagios, omd we are primarily using these tools their would be other tools available also for this purpose.


Continuous system monitoring serves one purpose where they notify about any deviation from the expected state of the system, the next step is to troubleshoot this issue & resolve it accordingly. As a first step I usually execute top command, top is a very powerful command apart from just viewing the processes activity in real you can do a lot of things i.e

  • If you want to add/remove fields : press f & then you can choose the fields to add/remove
  • If you want to change ordering of  fields : press O & then you can move fields
  • If you want to change the sort order : press F or O
there are lot of other options available as well, if you want to explore them pressing h will provide you a list of all the options.

You can also read about htop, htop is an advanced form of top where you can view some graphs as well though I'ven't used htop so much but I'm planning to :)

One thing to note sometimes you are not able ot run top command due to high resource utilization, in that case you have to use cat /proc/loadavg to view the load on the system & cat /proc/meminfo to view current memory state of the system.

One of the useful command if top doesn't work
ps -eo pmem,pcpu,vsize,pid,cmd | sort -k 1 -nr | head -5
This command will give the top 5 processes by memory usage.

Also there are couple of other commands that you can use
free : To view the memory usage of system
df : To view the file system information
du : To view the disk usage

One tip : To increase the memory of system you can create a swap memory & it is always recommended to create a swap on a partition only. Another best practice for swap area is if your system RAM is below 8 gb your swap area should be double of your ram otherwise it should be half of your RAM size


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