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Best Practices for Diagnosing Linux Problems

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1.1 Introduction

Your boss is screaming, your customers are screaming, you’re screaming ... Whatever the situation, there is a problem, and you need to solve it. Remember those old classic MUD games? For those who don’t, a Multi-User Dungeon or MUD was the earliest incarnation of the online video game. Users played the game through a completely non-graphical text interface that described the surroundings and options available to the player and then prompted the user with what to do next.

You are alone in a dark cubicle. To the North is your boss’s office, to the West is your Team Lead’s cubicle, to the East is a window opening out to a five-floor drop, and to the South is a kitchenette containing a freshly brewed pot of coffee. You stare at your computer screen in bewilderment as the phone rings for the fifth time in as many minutes indicating that your users are unable to connect to their server.


What will you do? Will you run toward the East and dive through the open window? Will you go grab a hot cup of coffee to ensure you stay alert for the long night ahead? A common thing to do in these MUD games was to examine your surroundings further, usually done by the look command.

Command> look

Your cubicle is a mess of papers and old coffee cups. The message waiting light on your phone is burnt out from flashing for so many months. Your email inbox is overflowing with unanswered emails. On top of the mess is the brand new book you ordered entitled "Self-Service Linux." You need a shower.

Command> read book "Self-Service Linux"

You still need a shower.

This tongue-in-cheek MUD analogy aside, what can this book really do for you? This book includes chapters that are loaded with useful information to help you diagnose problems quickly and effectively. This first chapter covers best practices for problem determination and points to the more in-depth information found in the chapters throughout this book. The first step is to ensure that your Linux system(s) are configured for effective problem determination.

Full Article.

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