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iostat, vmstat, netstat – Performance Monitoring & Tuning in Unix & Linux

This document is primarily written with reference to Solaris performance monitoring and tuning but these tools are available in other Unix variants & Linux also with slight syntax difference.

iostat , vmstat and netstat are three most commonly used tools for performance monitoring . These comes built in with the operating system and are easy to use .iostat stands for input output statistics and reports statistics for i/o devices such as disk drives . vmstat gives the statistics for virtual Memory and netstat gives the network statistics .

Following pages describes these tools and their usage for performance monitoring explains their syntax , examples and explanantion of results and solution for the common problems.

iostat – Input Output statistics

iostat reports terminal and disk I/O activity and CPU utilization. The first line of output is for the time period since boot & each subsequent line is for the prior interval . Kernel maintains a number of counters to keep track of the values.

iostat’s activity class options default to tdc (terminal, disk, and CPU). If any other option/s are specified, this default is completely overridden i.e. iostat -d will report only statistics about the disks.

iostat syntax

Basic synctax is iostat interval count
option – let you specify the device for which information is needed like disk , cpu or terminal. (-d , -c , -t or -tdc ) . x options gives the extended statistics .

interval – is time period in seconds between two samples . iostat 4 will give data at each 4 seconds interval.

count – is the number of times the data is needed . iostat 4 5 will give data at 4 seconds interval 5 times

iostat Example

$ iostat -xtc 5 2
                          extended disk statistics       tty         cpu
     disk r/s  w/s Kr/s Kw/s wait actv svc_t  %w  %b  tin tout us sy wt id
     sd0   2.6 3.0 20.7 22.7 0.1  0.2  59.2   6   19   0   84  3  85 11 0
     sd1   4.2 1.0 33.5  8.0 0.0  0.2  47.2   2   23
     sd2   0.0 0.0  0.0  0.0 0.0  0.0   0.0   0    0
     sd3  10.2 1.6 51.4 12.8 0.1  0.3  31.2   3   31

The fields have the following meanings:
      disk    name of the disk
      r/s     reads per second
      w/s     writes per second
      Kr/s    kilobytes read per second
      Kw/s    kilobytes written per second
      wait    average number of transactions waiting for service (Q length)
      actv    average number of transactions  actively being serviced 
(removed  from  the  queue but not yet completed)
      %w      percent of time there are transactions  waiting
              for service (queue non-empty)
      %b      percent of time the disk is busy  (transactions
                  in progress)

iostat Results and Solutions

The values to look from the iostat output are:
* Reads/writes per second (r/s , w/s)
* Percentage busy (%b)
* Service time (svc_t)

If a disk shows consistently high reads/writes along with , the percentage busy (%b) of the disks is greater than 5 percent, and the average service time (svc_t) is greater than 30 milliseconds, then one of the following action needs to be taken

  1. Tune the application to use disk i/o more efficiently by modifying the disk queries and using available cache facilities of application servers .
  2. Spread the file system of the disk on to two or more disk using disk striping feature of volume manager /disksuite etc.
  3. Increase the system parameter values for inode cache , ufs_ninode , which is Number of inodes to be held in memory. Inodes are cached globally (for UFS), not on a per-file system basis
  4. Move the file system to another faster disk /controller or replace existing disk/controller to a faster one.

Next Page – vmstat

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