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DevOps Troubleshooting: Linux Server Best Practices Paperback – 13 Nov 2012

5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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About the Author

Kyle Rankin, a senior systems administrator and DevOps engineer, is president of the North Bay Linux Users’ Group and is an award-winning columnist for Linux Journal. Rankin speaks frequently on open source software at SCALE, OSCON, Linux World Expo, Penguicon, and many Linux user groups. His other books include The Official Ubuntu Server Book; Knoppix Hacks, Second Edition; Knoppix Pocket Reference; and Linux Multimedia Hacks. He is also coauthor of Ubuntu Hacks.


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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In a nutshell: This is an amazing book for a developer or junior sysadmin who wants bite-sized and extremely focused recommendations for administrating a Linux box and the applications that are running on it.

I'm primarily a Java developer, and working as a contractor in small startup companies I often have to work across the entire stack from instance/OS administration right though to creation of web-based UIs. The term 'DevOps' is obviously getting a lot of attention in the computing/development press, and the type of companies I work for are increasingly expecting this to be a skill I should have (even if they don't know exactly what DevOps encompasses!).

I needed to improve my DevOps skills fast, and coming at this from a developer's point-of-view the primary skills I need to learn are the Ops-based System Administration (sysadmin) tasks - this book meets that requirement exactly. The book is small, but don't take this as a negative - it is highly focused, and contains a wealth of knowledge. I managed to devour the contents over a day, mainly by reading a chapter, taking a pause to experiment with my new-found knowledge and commands using a Linux-based box, and then dipping back into the book if I got stuck.

A particular use case that this book matches perfectly is the new wave of developers deploying to the Cloud. Over the past few years I am increasingly deploying a client's app to Cloud-based infrastructure such as AWS (EC2, RDS etc), and the rules of engagement are quite different here in comparison to when deploying to in-house boxes. I've lost count of the amount of time I've thrown away trying to figure out performance problems with Cloud apps - is the app poorly designed, or am I IO/Compute/network bound?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book covers all the basics in managing / troubleshooting a Linux server and its basic services. It's both highly useful and readable. I read it from cover to cover. I loved the sections about how to use top / sar and uptime to diagnose the state of the server. Yes, this might seem obvious stuff but do you really understand what all the numbers mean exactly? I've been managing Linux servers for over 8 years but there were loads of little tips and tricks which I hadn't noticed or properly understood before. I would buy this again.
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If you have real world experience like myself, this book will help build upon that as well as reinforce what you know. The sections referring to resource contention and network troubleshooting will be helpful to most if not everyone. The sections regarding websites etc... perhaps not so much due to the variety of webapps out there. However what it does offer is a very good grounding on the subjects.
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Well written. All you need for fast troubleshooting in just a few pages. Clear cut explanations.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8e4ce6b4) out of 5 stars 27 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e4e524c) out of 5 stars Excellent tips for anyone working with Linux in prod 27 Jan. 2013
By R. Freiberger - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the second book by Kyle Rankin that I have read and reviewed, the first being his co-authored Ubuntu Server book. From reading his articles in Linux Journal and other books, I enjoy his more direct questions and answers approach that is different from other Linux books. Instead of digging around the chapter for the command, Kyle Rankin has the steps and example clearly written, making this a very to the point guide. Reading other Linux books, I feel like I get more usable information from this book over larger volumes on the same topic.

From reading DevOps Troubleshooting, I really enjoyed this focus on troubleshooting. Kyle Rankin touched on troubleshooting in the Ubuntu Server book for a chapter, covering many issues but really only so much can be written in a chapter. Glad to see that the demand for this topic lead to a whole book on the topic, especially since troubleshooting is really an art that so many, including myself, need practice on.

The book covers the basics in the beginning about the basics of troubleshooting, how to make smart choices in testing the problem. This will give you a good base of building on your troubleshooting skills, instead of using a shotgun approach to solving problems. Also covers managing communication between teams. If you have ever worked on a critical issue, you know how dreaded it can be to "join the voice bridge", all the while working on the problem.

The chapters cover the general checks of the Linux operating system from reading performance details, using basic tools like top to find why the system is slow. Other topics also covered are boot problems, disk space issues, tracking down problems between two hosts, dns, e-mail basics, web and SQL server basics, and hardware problems. Each chapter includes details on the basics of the technology, then briefing on the tools, then how to check or validate the service is working.

While it sounds like this is a general command guide book, or a summary of man pages, the author also includes details why to use this tool or another, plus describes the path of troubleshooting. Personally, with only a few years of Linux experience I felt that I knew most of the tools mentioned, but the book really helped me use the tools in a much more efficient manner. Also Kyle Rankin describes each tool in detail to get all of the most usable information. I'll admit, I never knew what "wa" stood for in top and now it will be my top values to check on a system.

One of the key points Kyle Rankin mentions in the book is the technology known the least will often be the most blamed problem. I agree 100% on this, and this book really gives no one the excuse to blame another team since they can rule out the issue themselves. Often I've seen DNS blamed endless times for random issues that no one else could explain.

Overall, I really recommend this book to Linux users in production roles where they need to streamline their troubleshooting steps. But this book is also highly recommended for general Linux users as everyone will run into strange issues either at work or home. Personally, I found this book to help my knowledge in the subjects covered and will be sending a recommendation to my team at work to read this. I'm sure that even the more experience users will find new information from the book or at the very least, this will be a good reference book to send new users instead of explaining troubleshooting themselves.

After reading this book, I did have some suggestions, if there was a 2nd edition. While the book focuses on Linux, more so on Debian than Red Hat, I would have liked to see some details on BSD. This is not an entire deal breaker, as BSD is less popular than Linux, and often the commands are not entirely the same. Another suggestion would be more real world examples of trouble shooting a problem. For example, a step by step time line of the problem, how it was reported, solved, and post mortem on what caused the issue. This might be a good read for people new to fast troubleshooting skills and want to understand which tool fits where in the steps.

Besides these minor suggestions, the book is excellent and I'm keeping the hard copy on my desk at work for reference.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e972a8c) out of 5 stars Great book; covers many topics 15 Feb. 2013
By B. Fiedler - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This covers many topics and helps give a very useful _brief_ explanation on tools to help (e.g. iostat, sysstat), in addition to explaining how to find extremely high loads reported by 'top' that are caused by disk issues; something I didn't know at all but was encountering a ton at work that puzzled us all.. thanks!

While it covers a broad range of topics, the book itself is pretty short and doesn't go into much detail as I thought it would (those 240 pages go by very fast). I left it at our work library and it is a great reference when someone client is complaining about a random performance issue on their dedicated server that leaves us all puzzled.

Overall, this book is definitely worth reading at least once, but you will probably want/need it as a reference as well :)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e9729b4) out of 5 stars Completely worth having in your library 20 May 2013
By CollectedReader - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you have anything to do with Linux then you'd likely get value from having this practical hands-on book. I found that it gave great coverage and clear explanations without any fluff. Its probably not for newbies as there is very little in terms of explanation of general topics. It dives directly into problems/solutions which is perfect for what I was looking for - a reference guide to keep on the shelf that is not boring to read through either. Great job, especially considering that I find that there are few books in this subject area and level.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e4e5684) out of 5 stars This is a perfect second Linux book for new admins 21 Sept. 2013
By M. Helmke - Published on
Format: Paperback
Have you ever been responsible for a server and had something go wrong? Ever been in a situation where you didn't know what was causing the problem or how to figure it out? I think any of us who develop code, work in quality assurance, or administer systems have had this sort of experience. Sometimes problems appear that were never covered in a class or training session. Experience is an amazing teacher, but gaining that experience can be intimidating and sometimes painful. This book gives anyone working in DevOps a bit of a head start.

DevOps Troubleshooting: Linux Server Best Practices starts with a discussion of best practices in troubleshooting. This lays a good foundation for the rest of the book and should be read right away. If you don't already know how to narrow down the location or source of a problem, how to communicate with others who may be affected or who can assist, or even where to start when a problem arises, the first chapter gives a solid plan to help you out. Most of the content of this chapter will seem obvious to people with experience, but they were not obvious to us when we started, and this information would have saved most of us a few headaches. Ideas like favoring quick, simple tests over slow and complex one, favoring past solutions that are known to work, and most importantly, understanding how the systems work before doing anything are vital. I like the advice about using the internet, but carefully, and resisting rebooting as a cure-all (because it doesn't help you find the cause of the problem).

The chapters that follow are each focused on a specific type of problem. They include discussions of tips, tricks, and tools for diagnosing, and fixing issues. There are chapters that cover server slowness due to CPU, RAM, and Disk I/O issues, boot problems, full or corrupt disk issues, network problems, DNS server issues, email problems, web server problems, and database problems. There is even a chapter on diagnosing common hardware problems.

Experienced Linux server gurus may pick up a trick or two, but it is those who are new to working with Linux servers who are most likely to benefit from this book, and benefit in significant ways. The book doesn't cover how to use Linux or how to set up your server, but it covers exactly what the title of the book says it will cover. For this reason, I consider this a perfect second Linux book for anyone who is relatively new to any aspect of DevOps with Linux.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e4e5834) out of 5 stars Really easy technical reading... 10 April 2013
By jcpenya - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
With great details made simple by really helpful examples. I specially enjoyed the chapter about diagnosis of CPU, RAM and Disk I/O.
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