Jul 092008

One of the ways in determining what is going on inside the UNIX kernel is to make use of the /proc filesystem. Some of that information may be disk arrays connected to your server or querying kernel parameters. The /proc filesystem offers an interface to important kernel data structures that provide information about the state of a running UNIX kernel by use of special files. The System Administrators uses the UNIX cat command to list the contents of those special files.

Under Linux, it is also possible to set certain kernel parameters by using the echo command. For example, to change the kernel parameter value used to control the maximum socket receive buffer size, net.core.rmem_default, to 262144, use the following:

# echo 262144 > /proc/sys/net/core/rmem_default

It is important to understand when setting kernel parameters in Linux using the echo command, (as in the above example), these settings need to be applied each time the system boots. Some distributions of Linux already have a setup method for this during boot. On Red Hat, this can be configured in /etc/sysctl.conf: (like: net.core.rmem_default = 262144).

This article attempts to list some of the more common files used by System Administrators. Although most of these special files are general enough to apply to all flavors or UNIX (Solaris, Linux, HP-UX, etc.), I indicate those that only apply to a particular platform.

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