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Popular Unix Performance-Monitoring Tools for Linux

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Performance tuning has been around a long time. This sample chapter looks at some of the more popular Unix performance monitoring tools that have been ported or rewritten for use on Linux systems.

Before the Linux kernel, there was Unix. Well, okay, there were a lot of different flavors of Unix, but most Unix systems came from Hewlett Packard's Unix HP-UX to Sun Microsystem's SunOS and Solaris. In addition to the commercial variety, there were also other free Unix operating systems. The Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) was the main free Unix; it later spawned three flavors of free Unix systems: OpenBSD, FreeBSD, and NetBSD.

Without going into too much historical detail, it is safe to assume that the art of performance tuning has been around a long time. To better enable the system administrator in the task of performance tuning, many tools were created on these systems well before the Linux kernel became as popular as it is today. Almost all of those tools have been ported to or rewritten for use on Linux-based operating systems. The reverse also is true: Many of the newer tools initially developed on Linux-based systems have been ported on to other flavors of Unix. This chapter looks at some of the more popular Unix tools that have been ported or rewritten for use on Linux systems.

NOTE

For more information on the history of Unix, go online and search http://www.yahoo.com/ or http://www.google.com/. Many Web sites chronicle Unix and Unix-like operating systems history.

The Scope of These Tools and the Chapter

Take my word for it: A plethora of other performance-monitoring tools are available for Linux and other Unix operating systems. This chapter takes a look at the most common of these tools. Indeed, an entire book could be written on every single performance tool ported to or written on Linux systems. The unfortunate truth, however, is that the book would never be up-to-date because so many are added almost daily.

This chapter is divided into four generic sections of tools:

  1. All-purpose tools

  2. Disk benchmark tools

  3. Network monitoring tools

  4. Other tools

It is important to note that we do not break down the tools by subsystem alone because there are very few subsystem-specific tools. Many performance-monitoring tools can monitor all the subsystems or, as was noted in Chapter 1, "Overview of Performance Tuning," the big three: CPU, disk, and memory.

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