Posts Tagged ‘pitfall’

How to find out which processes are causing a hard disk I/O overhead in GNU/Linux

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

iotop monitor hard disk io bottlenecks linux
To find out which programs are causing the most read/write overhead on a Linux server one can use iotop

Here is the description of iotop – simple top-like I/O monitor, taken from its manpage.

iotop does precisely the same as the classic linux top but for hard disk IN/OUT operations.

To check the overhead caused by some daemon on the system or some random processes launching iotop without any arguments is enough;

debian:~# iotop

The main overview of iostat statistics, are the:

Total DISK READ: xx.xx MB/s | Total DISK WRITE: xx.xx K/s
If launching iotop, shows a huge numbers and the server is facing performance drop downs, its a symptom for hdd i/o overheads.
iotop is available for Debian and Ubuntu as a standard package part of the distros repositories. On RHEL based Linuxes unfortunately, its not available as RPM.

While talking about keeping an eye on hard disk utilization and disk i/o’s as bottleneck and a possible pitfall to cause a server performance down, it’s worthy to mention about another really great tool, which I use on every single server I administrate. For all those unfamiliar I’m talking about dstat

dstat is a – versatile tool for generating system resource statistics as the description on top of the manual states. dstat is great for people who want to have iostat, vmstat and ifstat in one single program.
dstat is nowdays available on most Linux distributions ready to be installed from the respective distro package manager. I’ve used it and I can confirm tt is installable via a deb/rpm package on Fedora, CentOS, Debian and Ubuntu linuces.

Here is how the tool in action looks like:

dstat Linux hdd load stats screenshot

The most interesting things from all the dstat cmd output are read, writ and recv, send , they give a good general overview on hard drive performance and if tracked can reveal if the hdd disk/writes are a bottleneck to create server performance issues.
Another handy tool in tracking hdd i/o problems is iostat its a tool however more suitable for the hard core admins as the tool statistics output is not easily readable.

In case if you need to periodically grasp data about disks read/write operations you will definitely want to look at collectl i/o benchmarking tool .Unfortunately collect is not included as a packaget for most linux distributions except in Fedora. Besides its capabilities to report on servers disk usage, collect is also capable to show brief stats on cpu, network.

Collectl looks really promosing and even seems to be in active development the latest tool release is from May 2011. It even supports NVidia’s GPU monitoring 😉 In short what collectl does is very similar to sysstat which by the way also has some possibilities to track disk reads in time.  collectl’s website praises the tool, much and says that in most machines the extra load the tool would add to a system to generate reports on cpu, disk and disk io is < 0.1%.  I couldn’t find any data online on how much sysstat (sar) extra loads a system. It will be interesting if some of someone concluded some testing and can tell which of the two puts less load on a system.

How to add cron jobs from command line or bash scripts / Add crontab jobs in a script

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

I’m currently writting a script which is supposed to be adding new crontab jobs and do a bunch of other mambo jambo.

By so far I’ve been aware of only one way to add a cronjob non-interactively like so:

                 linux:~# echo '*/5 * * * * /root/myscript.sh' | crontab -

Though using the | crontab – would work it has one major pitfall, I did completely forgot | crontab – OVERWRITES CURRENT CRONTAB! with the crontab passed by with the echo command.
One must be extremely careful if he decides to use the above example as you might loose your crontab definitions permanently!

Thanksfully it seems there is another way to add crontabs non interactively via a script, as I couldn’t find any good blog which explained something different from the classical example with pipe to crontab –, I dropped by in the good old irc.freenode.net to consult the bash gurus there 😉

So I entered irc and asked the question how can I add a crontab via bash shell script without overwritting my old existing crontab definitions less than a minute later one guy with a nickname geirha was kind enough to explain me how to get around the annoying overwridding.

The solution to the ovewrite was expected, first you use crontab to dump current crontab lines to a file and then you append the new cron job as a new record in the file and finally you ask the crontab program to read and insert the crontab definitions from the newly created files.
So here is the exact code one could run inside a script to include new crontab jobs, next to the already present ones:

linux:~# crontab -l > file; echo '*/5 * * * * /root/myscript.sh >/dev/null 2>&1' >> file; crontab file

The above definition as you could read would make the new record of */5 * * * * /root/myscript.sh >/dev/null be added next to the existing crontab scheduled jobs.

Now I’ll continue with my scripting, in the mean time I hope this will be of use to someone out there 😉

Downloading your favourity flash video from Youtube with a simple command (youtube-dl)

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

downloading-flash-videos-from-youtube-on-linux-and-bsd-youtube-downloader-logo
Watching videos in youtube today and already for about 2 years is the de-facto hype.
There is almost none a day passed without almost each one of us has watched a dozen videos in Youtube.

Watching videos in youtube has become even more addictive for many than the early days of Internet Relay Chats (IRC)

As youtube is very accessible for people and it’s a comparativily easy way people share more and more with the day.
There is no question that the business idea of youtube is great and youtube generates millions of dollars for Google day by day, however I have a serious objection here! All is good the only pitfall is that you don’t own the youtube videos you watch!

Youtube’s story is not that different from the story of the cloud computing threat to internet users Freedom

The good thing here is that we’re not still completely dependant on youtube and there is still way to retrieve your favourite youtube video and store it for later watching or distribution.

Probably the most famous browser plugin that allows files retrieval from youtube, as most people know is DownloadHelper .

However using download helper is browser dependant, you need to use the browser to save the plugin and I don’t find it to be the best way to download a youtube video.

Since the old days I have started using Linux, I’ve been quite addicted to as many things on my linux as possible from the command line (terminal / console) (CLI) .

In that manner of thoughts it was a real delight for me to find out that a group of free software developer guys has come up with a command line tool that allows downloads of youtube videos straight from terminal, the great software is called youtube-dl and at the moment of this post writting it’s to be found on the URL address:

http://rg3.github.com/youtube-dl/

Youtube-dl is written in python so, it requires the Python interpreter, version 2.5 in order to properly run on Unix, Mac OS X or even on Windows!

The fact that it’s written in python has made the little shiny tool quite a multi-platform one.
To start using immediately the tool on a Debian or Ubuntu Linux you will have to install python (even though in most cases you must have it already installed):

1. To make sure you have python interpreter installed issue the cmd:

debian:~# apt-get install python
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
python is already the newest version.
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.

As you can see from above apt-get’s output I do have it installed so nothing gets installed.

2. As a next step I used links to download the youtube-dl python script, like so:

debian:~# links https://github.com/rg3/youtube-dl/raw/2011.03.29/youtube-dl >> youtube-dl
Use the links interface to save youtube-dl and use gzip to ungzip it
debian:~# gzip -d youtube-dl.gz
debian:~# chmod +x youtube-dl

Now to make it system wide accessible I have copied the youtube-dl to /usr/local/bin , whether I selected /usr/local/bin as a location as this location is predetermined to contain mostly files which does not belong to a regular deb package.

3. Move youtube-dl to /usr/local/bin

debian:~# mv youtube-dl /usr/local/bin

4. Test the newly installed youtube-dl command line youtube retrieval tool:

debian:~# ./youtube-dl https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7tvI6JCXD0
[youtube] Setting language
[youtube] g7tvI6JCXD0: Downloading video webpage
[youtube] g7tvI6JCXD0: Downloading video info webpage
[youtube] g7tvI6JCXD0: Extracting video information
[download] Destination: g7tvI6JCXD0.flv
[download] 53.3% of 22.62M at 33.23k/s ETA 05:25
[download] 100.0% of 22.62M at 31.91k/s ETA 00:00 [u

As you might have noticed from the above youtube-dl command output the newly retrieved youtube file will be saved under a name g7tvI6JCXD0.flv

The line I passed to youtube-dl is directly taken from my browser and pasted to console, the file downloading from youtube took me about 10 minutes but this is mostly because of some kind of youtube server speed restrictions …

In general at least I have this video for later, watching, so after a while I can watch it once again without loosing a lot of time trying to remember what was the video headline name

5. To use youtube-dl in a bit advanced way you can for instance invoke the command with options like:

debian:~# ./youtube-dl -l -w -c https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7tvI6JCXD0
[youtube] Setting language
[youtube] g7tvI6JCXD0: Downloading video webpage
[youtube] g7tvI6JCXD0: Downloading video info webpage
[youtube] g7tvI6JCXD0: Extracting video information
[download] Destination: BSD is Dying, Jason Dixon, NYCBSDCon 2007-g7tvI6JCXD0.flv
[download] 4.4% of 22.62M at 1.43M/s ETA 00:15

As you can see now youtube-dl was even able to detect the downloaded video file name and store it on the computer with a correct name 😉

I would recommend you also to check out the youtube-dl help page, to do use command: youtube-dl –help