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Linux Journal: Linux's Tell-Tale Heart, Part 1

Jun 27, 2000, 07:37 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Marcel Gagné)

"Today's column marks the beginning of a new series, where we dig deep within the heart of your Linux system and listen. Whether you know it or not, your Linux system is constantly talking to you in a kind of system monologue, or diary, keeping you abreast of everything in its life. All you need to do is pay attention. Sometimes the information will look like idle chit-chat. Sometimes, the health of your system depends on it."

"As time goes on and you get more comfortable with your Linux system, you've no doubt realized just how powerful it really is. There's a lot going on under the hood, and a lot of feedback is being generated from all that information. Today, I'm going to show you how some of this information is generated, how you can customize it, and how you can be in several places at once!..."

"A good deal of the logs your system generates come to you courtesy of the syslogd dæmon. The syslogd dæmon is a program that runs in the background, independent of whatever else you may do on your system, but it does pay attention. That's its job; to collect information on what is going on and reporting it. Actually, this is as good a place as any for a definition. For those of you who may not already know this, my description of syslogd is actually a pretty good definition of what a dæmon is, at least the first part. By definition, a dæmon is a program which, after being spawned (either at boot or by a command from a shell), disconnects itself from the terminal that started it and runs in the background. If you then disconnect from the terminal session that started the program or log out entirely, the program continues to run in the background. What it does there is a function of what the dæmon is for. The inetd dæmon listens for network connections, while syslogd watches, monitors and logs."

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