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The first step in configuring Linux TCP-IP stack is configuring the network card interface.  Different flavors of Linux has different configuration files and slightly different approach to the configuration

Outdated but still useful free ebook on the topic is Linux Network Administrator's Guide, 2nd Edition By Olaf Kirch & Terry Dawson (June 2000 )

Linux networking encompass a wide variety of protocols and applications. Among them the most important is LAMP stack. LAMP is an acronym for a solution stack of free, open source software, referring to the first letters of Linux (operating system), Apache HTTP Server, MySQL (database software) and PHP (or sometimes Perl or Python), principal components to build a viable general purpose web server. See

 


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[Nov 30, 2010] Life As A Sys Admin Best Networking Tweaks for Linux By Michael Adams

Nov 29, 2010 | Network World

A Linux system can be tweaked to a degree Windows users may envy (or fear) especially for networking. Tweaking a Linux box for networking is a bit more mundane than other platforms: there are specific driver settings one can work with but its best flexibility comes from a mix of OS-level modifications and adherence to different RFCs.

ifconfig (interface) txqueuelen #

Software buffers for network adapters on Linux start off at a conservative 1000 packets. Network researchers and scientists have mucked around with this, and figured out that we should be using 10,000 for anything decent on a LAN; more if you're running GB or 10GE stuff. Slow interfaces, such as modems and WAN links, can default to 0-100, but don't be afraid to bump it up towards 1000 and see if your performance improves. Bumping up this setting does use memory, so be careful if you're using an embedded router or something (I've used 10,000 on 16MB RAM OpenWRT units, no prob).

You can edit /etc/rc.local, add an "up" command to /etc/networking/interfaces, or whatever your distribution suggests and it's best to put a command like this at startup.

/etc/sysctl.conf

This file governs default behavior for many network and file operation settings on Linux and other *nix-based systems. If you deploy Ubuntu or Fedora systems, you'll notice they will add their own tweaks (usually security or file-oriented) to the file: don't delete those, unless you read up on them, or see any that are contradicted by the suggested additions here...

net.ipv4.tcp_rfc1337=1
net.ipv4.tcp_window_scaling=1
net.ipv4.tcp_workaround_signed_windows=1
net.ipv4.tcp_sack=1
net.ipv4.tcp_fack=1
net.ipv4.tcp_low_latency=1
net.ipv4.ip_no_pmtu_disc=0
net.ipv4.tcp_mtu_probing=1
net.ipv4.tcp_frto=2
net.ipv4.tcp_frto_response=2
net.ipv4.tcp_congestion_control=illinois

1. RFC 1337, TIME-WAIT Assassination Hazards in TCP, a fix written in 1992 for some theoretically-possible failure modes for TCP connections. To this day this RFC still has people confused if it negatively impacts performance or not or is supported by any decent router. Murphy's Law is that the only router that it would even have trouble with, is most likely your own.

2. TCP window scaling tries to avoid getting the network adapter saturated with incoming packets.

3. TCP SACK and FACK refer to options found in RFC 2018 and are also documented back to Linux Kernel 2.6.17 with an experimental "TCP-Peach" set of functions. These are meant to get you your data without excessive losses.

4. The latency setting is 1 if you prefer more packets vs bandwidth, or 0 if you prefer bandwidth. More packets are ideal for things like Remote Desktop and VOIP: less for bulk downloading.

5. I found RFC 2923, which is a good review of PMTU. IPv6 uses PMTU by default to avoid segmenting packets at the router level, but its optional for IPv4. PMTU is meant to inform routers of the best packet sizes to use between links, but its a common admin practice to block ICMP ports that allow pinging, thus breaking this mechanism. Linux tries to use it, and so do I: if you have problems, you have a problem router, and can change the "no" setting to 1. "MTU probing" is also a part of this: 1 means try, and 0 means don't.

6. FRTO is a mechanism in newer Linux kernels to optimize for wireless hosts: use it if you have them; delete the setting, or set to 0, if you don't.

For further study, there's a great IBM article regarding network optimizations: it was my source for some of these settings, as well as following numerous articles on tweaking Linux networking over the years (SpeedGuide has one from 2003).

TCP Congestion Controls

Windows Vista and newer gained Compound TCP as an alternative to standard TCP Reno. Linux Kernel 2.6 has had numerous mechanisms available to it for some time: 2.6.19 defaulted to CUBIC which was supposed to work well over "long links." My two personal favorites: TCP Westwood + and TCP Illinois. But you can dig in, look at different research papers online, and see what works best for your environment.

1. Make sure your kernel has the correct module: in my example, I use TCP Illinois, which has been compiled with any standard Ubuntu kernel since 2008, and is found as tcp_illinois.

2. Add said kernel module to /etc/modules

3. Change /etc/sysctl.conf to use the non "tcp_" part of your selection.

There you have it -- some of my favorite Linux tweaks for networking. I'm interested in hearing how these worked for you. If you have some of your own, please post a comment and share them with other readers.

[Feb 25, 2009] How to troubleshoot RHEL performance bottlenecks by Ken Milberg

09.30.2008

You've just had your first cup of coffee and have received that dreaded phone call. The system is slow. What are you going to do? This article will discuss performance bottlenecks and optimization in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL5).

Before getting into any monitoring or tuning specifics, you should always use some kind of tuning methodology. This is one which I've used successfully through the years:

1. Baseline – The first thing you must do is establish a baseline, which is a snapshot of how the system appears when it's performing well. This baseline should not only compile data, but also document your system's configuration (RAM, CPU and I/O). This is necessary because you need to know what a well-performing system looks like prior to fixing it.

2. Stress testing and monitoring – This is the part where you monitor and stress your systems at peak workloads. It's the monitoring which is key here – as you cannot effectively tune anything without some historic trending data.

3. Bottleneck identification – This is where you come up with the diagnosis for what is ailing your system. The primary objective of section 2 is to determine the bottleneck. I like to use several monitoring tools here. This allows me to cross-reference my data for accuracy.

4. Tune – Only after you've identified the bottleneck can you tune it.

5. Repeat – Once you've tuned it, you can start the cycle again – but this time start from step 2 (monitoring) – as you already have your baseline.

It's important to note that you should only make one change at a time. Otherwise, you'll never know exactly what impacted any changes which might have occurred. It is only by repeating your tests and consistently monitoring your systems that you can determine if your tuning is making an impact.

RHEL monitoring tools

Before we can begin to improve the performance of our system, we need to use the monitoring tools available to us to baseline. Here are some monitoring tools you should consider using:

Oprofile

This tool (made available in RHEL5) utilizes the processor to retrieve kernel system information about system executables. It allows one to collect samples of performance data every time a counter detects an interrupt. I like the tool also because it carries little overhead – which is very important because you don't want monitoring tools to be causing system bottlenecks. One important limitation is that the tool is very much geared towards finding problems with CPU limited processes. It does not identify processes which are sleeping or waiting on I/O.

The steps used to start up Oprofile include setting up the profiler, starting it and then dumping the data.

First we'll set up the profile. This option assumes that one wants to monitor the kernel.

# opcontrol --setup –vmlinux=/usr/lib/debug/lib/modules/'uname -r'/vmlinux

Then we can start it up.

# opcontrol --start

Finally, we'll dump the data.

# opcontrol --stop/--shutdown/--dump

SystemTap

This tool (introduced in RHEL5) collects data by analyzing the running kernel. It really helps one come up with a correct diagnosis of a performance problem and is tailor-made for developers. SystemTap eliminates the need for the developer to go through the recompile and reinstallation process to collect data.

Frysk

This is another tool which was introduced by Red Hat in RHEL5. What does it do for you? It allows both developers and system administrators to monitor running processes and threads. Frysk differs from Oprofile in that it uses 100% reliable information (similar to SystemTap) - not just a sampling of data. It also runs in user mode and does not require kernel modules or elevated privileges. Allowing one to stop or start running threads or processes is also a very useful feature.

Some more general Linux tools include top and vmstat. While these are considered more basic, often I find them much more useful than more complex tools. Certainly they are easier to use and can help provide information in a much quicker fashion.

Top provides a quick snapshot of what is going on in your system – in a friendly character-based display.

It also provides information on CPU, Memory and Swap Space.

Let's look at vmstat – one of the oldest but more important Unix/Linux tools ever created. Vmstat allows one to get a valuable snapshot of process, memory, sway I/O and overall CPU utilization.

Now let's define some of the fields:

Memory
swpd – The amount of virtual memory
free – The amount of free memory
buff – Amount of memory used for buffers
cache – Amount of memory used as page cache

Process
r – number of run-able processes
b – number or processes sleeping.
Make sure this number does not exceed the amount of run-able processes, because when this condition occurs it usually signifies that there are performance problems.

Swap
si – the amount of memory swapped in from disk
so – the amount of memory swapped out.

This is another important field you should be monitoring – if you are swapping out data, you will likely be having performance problems with virtual memory.

CPU
us – The % of time spent in user-level code.
It is preferable for you to have processes which spend more time in user code rather than system code. Time spent in system level code usually means that the process is tied up in the kernel rather than processing real data.
sy – the time spent in system level code
id – the amount of time the CPU is idle wa – The amount of time the system is spending waiting for I/O.
If your system is waiting on I/O – everything tends to come to a halt. I start to get worried when this is > 10. There is also:

Free – This tool provides memory information, giving you data around the total amount of free and used physical and swap memory.

Now that we've analyzed our systems – lets look at what we can do to optimize and tune our systems.

CPU Overhead – Shutting Running Processes
Linux starts up all sorts of processes which are usually not required. This includes processes such as autofs, cups, xfs, nfslock and sendmail. As a general rule, shut down anything that isn't explicitly required. How do you do this? The best method is to use the chkconfig command.

Here's how we can shut these processes down.
[root ((Content component not found.)) _29_140_234 ~]# chkconfig --del xfs

You can also use the GUI - /usr/bin/system-config-services to shut down daemon process.

Tuning the kernel
To tune your kernel for optimal performance, start with:

sysctl – This is the command we use for changing kernel parameters. The parameters themselves are found in /proc/sys/kernel

Let's change some of the parameters. We'll start with the msgmax parameter. This parameter specifies the maximum allowable size of a single message in an IPC message queue. Let's view how it currently looks.

[root ((Content component not found.)) _29_139_52 ~]# sysctl kernel.msgmax
kernel.msgmax = 65536
[root ((Content component not found.)) _29_139_52 ~]#

There are three ways to make these kinds of kernel changes. One way is to change this using the echo command.

[root ((Content component not found.)) _29_139_52 ~]# echo 131072 >/proc/sys/kernel/msgmax
[root ((Content component not found.)) _29_139_52 ~]# sysctl kernel.msgmax
kernel.msgmax = 131072
[root ((Content component not found.)) _29_139_52 ~]#

Another parameter that is changed quite frequently is SHMMAX, which is used to define the maximum size (in bytes) for a shared memory segment. In Oracle this should be set large enough for the largest SGA size. Let's look at the default parameter:

# sysctl kernel.shmmax
kernel.shmmax = 268435456

This is in bytes – which translates to 256 MG. Let's change this to 512 MG, using the -w flag.

[root ((Content component not found.)) _29_139_52 ~]# sysctl -w kernel.shmmax=5368709132
kernel.shmmax = 5368709132
[root ((Content component not found.)) _29_139_52 ~]#

The final method for making changes is to use a text editor such as vi – directly editing the /etc/sysctl.conf file to manually make our changes.

To allow the parameter to take affect dynamically without a reboot, issue the sysctl command with the -p parameter.

Obviously, there is more to performance tuning and optimization than we can discuss in the context of this small article – entire books have been written on Linux performance tuning. For those of you first getting your hands dirty with tuning, I suggest you tread lightly and spend time working on development, test and/or sandbox environments prior to deploying any changes into production. Ensure that you monitor the effects of any changes that you make immediately; it's imperative to know the effect of your change. Be prepared for the possibility that fixing your bottleneck has created another one. This is actually not a bad thing in itself, as long as your overall performance has improved and you understand fully what is happening.

Performance monitoring and tuning is a dynamic process which does not stop after you have fixed a problem. All you've done is established a new baseline. Don't rest on your laurels, and understand that performance monitoring must be a routine part of your role as a systems administrator.

About the author: Ken Milberg is a systems consultant with two decades of experience working with Unix and Linux systems. He is a SearchEnterpriseLinux.com Ask the Experts advisor and columnist.

[Feb 23, 2009] Deployment_Guide/Gathering System Information

Before you learn how to configure your system, you should learn how to gather essential system> information. For example, you should know how to find the amount of free memory, the amount of available hard drive space, how your hard drive is partitioned, and what processes are running. This chapter discusses how to retrieve this type of information from your Red Hat Enterprise Linux system using simple commands and a few simple programs.

1. System Processes

The ps ax command displays a list of current system processes, including processes owned by other users. To display the owner alongside each process, use the ps aux command. This list is a static list; in other words, it is a snapshot of what was running when you invoked the command. If you want a constantly updated list of running processes, use top as described below. The ps output can be long. To prevent it from scrolling off the screen, you can pipe it through less:

ps aux | less

You can use the ps command in combination with the grep command to see if a process is running. For example, to determine if Emacs is running, use the following command:

ps ax | grep emacs

The top command displays currently running processes and important information about them including their memory and CPU usage. The list is both real-time and interactive. An example of output from the top command is provided as follows:

To exit top press the q key. Useful interactive commands that you can use:

For more information, refer to the
top(1) manual page.

IBM Redbooks Linux Performance and Tuning Guidelines

Abstract

Over the past few years, Linux has made its way into the data centers of many corporations all over the globe. The Linux operating system has become accepted by both the scientific and enterprise user population. Today, Linux is by far the most versatile operating system. You can find Linux on embedded devices such as firewalls and cell phones and mainframes. Naturally, performance of the Linux operating system has become a hot topic for both scientific and enterprise users. However, calculating a global weather forecast and hosting a database impose different requirements on the operating system. Linux has to accommodate all possible usage scenarios with the most optimal performance. The consequence of this challenge is that most Linux distributions contain general tuning parameters to accommodate all users.

IBMฎ has embraced Linux, and it is recognized as an operating system suitable for enterprise-level applications running on IBM systems. Most enterprise applications are now available on Linux, including file and print servers, database servers, Web servers, and collaboration and mail servers.

With use of Linux in an enterprise-class server comes the need to monitor performance and, when necessary, tune the server to remove bottlenecks that affect users. This IBM Redpaper describes the methods you can use to tune Linux, tools that you can use to monitor and analyze server performance, and key tuning parameters for specific server applications. The purpose of this redpaper is to understand, analyze, and tune the Linux operating system to yield superior performance for any type of application you plan to run on these systems.

The tuning parameters, benchmark results, and monitoring tools used in our test environment were executed on Red Hat and Novell SUSE Linux kernel 2.6 systems running on IBM System x servers and IBM System z servers. However, the information in this redpaper should be helpful for all Linux hardware platforms.

Update 4/2008: Typos corrected



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