System Analysis and Tuning Guide

SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is used for a broad range of usage scenarios in enterprise and scientific data centers. SUSE has ensured SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is set up in a way that it accommodates different operation purposes with optimal performance. However, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop must meet very different demands when employed on a number crunching server compared to a file server, for example.

Generally it is not possible to ship a distribution that will by default be optimized for all kinds of workloads. Due to the simple fact that different workloads vary substantially in various aspects—most importantly I/O access patterns, memory access patterns, and process scheduling. A behavior that perfectly suits a certain workload might t reduce performance of a completely different workload (for example, I/O intensive databases usually have completely different requirements compared to CPU-intensive tasks, such as video encoding). The great versatility of Linux makes it possible to configure your system in a way that it brings out the best in each usage scenario.

This manual introduces you to means to monitor and analyze your system. It describes methods to manage system resources and to tune your system. This guide does not offer recipes for special scenarios, because each server has got its own different demands. It rather enables you to thoroughly analyze your servers and make the most out of them.

General Notes on System Tuning

Tuning a system requires a carefully planned proceeding. Learn which steps are necessary to successfully improve your system.

Section II, System Monitoring

Linux offers a large variety of tools to monitor almost every aspect of the system. Learn how to use these utilities and how to read and analyze the system log files.

Section III, Kernel Monitoring

The Linux kernel itself offers means to examine every nut, bolt and screw of the system. This part introduces you to SystemTap, a scripting language for writing kernel modules that can be used to analyze and filter data. Collect debugging information and find bottlenecks by using kernel probes and use perfmon2 to access the CPU's performance monitoring unit. Last, monitor applications with the help of Oprofile.

Section IV, Resource Management

Learn how to set up a tailor-made system fitting exactly the server's need. Get to know how to use power management while at the same time keeping the performance of a system at a level that matches the current requirements.

Section V, Kernel Tuning

The Linux kernel can be optimized either by using sysctl or via the /proc file system. This part covers tuning the I/O performance and optimizing the way how Linux schedules processes. It also describes basic principles of memory management and shows how memory management could be fine-tuned to suit needs of specific applications and usage patterns. Furthermore, it describes how to optimize network performance.

Section VI, Handling System Dumps

This part enables you to analyze and handle application or system crashes. It introduces tracing tools such as strace or ltrace and describes how to handle system crashes using Kexec and Kdump.

HINT: Getting the SUSE Linux Enterprise SDK

Some programs or packages mentioned in this guide are only available from the SUSE Linux Enterprise Software Development Kit (SDK). The SDK is an add-on product for SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop and is available for download from

Many chapters in this manual contain links to additional documentation resources. This includes additional documentation that is available on the system as well as documentation available on the Internet.

For an overview of the documentation available for your product and the latest documentation updates, refer to or to the following section:

Available Documentation

We provide HTML and PDF versions of our books in different languages. The following manuals for users and administrators are available for this product:

KDE User Guide, (↑KDE User Guide)

Introduces the KDE desktop of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. It guides you through using and configuring the desktop and helps you perform key tasks. It is intended mainly for users who want to make efficient use of KDE as their default desktop.

GNOME User Guide, (↑GNOME User Guide)

Introduces the GNOME desktop of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. It guides you through using and configuring the desktop and helps you perform key tasks. It is intended mainly for end users who want to make efficient use of GNOME desktop as their default desktop.

Application Guide, (↑Application Guide)

Learn how to use and configure key desktop applications on SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. This guide introduces browsers and e-mail clients as well as office applications and collaboration tools. It also covers graphics and multimedia applications.

Deployment Guide, (↑Deployment Guide)

Shows how to install single or multiple systems and how to exploit the product inherent capabilities for a deployment infrastructure. Choose from various approaches, ranging from a local installation or a network installation server to a mass deployment using a remote-controlled, highly-customized, and automated installation technique.

Administration Guide, (↑Administration Guide)

Covers system administration tasks like maintaining, monitoring, and customizing an initially installed system.

Security Guide, (↑Security Guide)

Introduces basic concepts of system security, covering both local and network security aspects. Shows how to make use of the product inherent security software like AppArmor (which lets you specify per program which files the program may read, write, and execute), and the auditing system that reliably collects information about any security-relevant events.

System Analysis and Tuning Guide

An administrator's guide for problem detection, resolution and optimization. Find how to inspect and optimize your system by means of monitoring tools and how to efficiently manage resources. Also contains an overview of common problems and solutions, and of additional help and documentation resources.

Virtualization with Xen, (↑Virtualization with Xen)

Offers an introduction to virtualization technology of your product. It features an overview of the various fields of application and installation types of each of the platforms supported by SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as well as a short description of the installation procedure.

In addition to the comprehensive manuals, several quick start guides are available:

KDE Quick Start, (↑Quick Start Manuals)

Gives a short introduction to the KDE desktop and some key applications running on it.

GNOME Quick Start, (↑Quick Start Manuals)

Gives a short introduction to the GNOME desktop and some key applications running on it. Quick Start, (↑Quick Start Manuals)

Gives a short introduction into the LibreOffice suite and its modules for writing texts, working with spreadsheets, or creating graphics and presentations.

Installation Quick Start, (↑Quick Start Manuals)

Lists the system requirements and guides you step-by-step through the installation of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop from DVD, or from an ISO image.

Linux Audit Quick Start

Gives a short overview how to enable and configure the auditing system and how to execute key tasks such as setting up audit rules, generating reports, and analyzing the log files.

AppArmor Quick Start

Helps you understand the main concepts behind AppArmor®.

Find HTML versions of most product manuals in your installed system under /usr/share/doc/manual or in the help centers of your desktop. Find the latest documentation updates at where you can download PDF or HTML versions of the manuals for your product.


Several feedback channels are available:

Bugs and Enhancement Requests

For services and support options available for your product, refer to

To report bugs for a product component, log in to the Novell Customer Center from and select My Support > Service Request.

User Comments

We want to hear your comments about and suggestions for this manual and the other documentation included with this product. Use the User Comments feature at the bottom of each page in the online documentation or go to and enter your comments there.


For feedback on the documentation of this product, you can also send a mail to Make sure to include the document title, the product version, and the publication date of the documentation. To report errors or suggest enhancements, provide a concise description of the problem and refer to the respective section number and page (or URL).

Documentation Conventions

The following typographical conventions are used in this manual:

  • /etc/passwd: directory names and filenames

  • placeholder: replace placeholder with the actual value

  • PATH: the environment variable PATH

  • ls, --help: commands, options, and parameters

  • user: users or groups

  • Alt, Alt+F1: a key to press or a key combination; keys are shown in uppercase as on a keyboard

  • File, File > Save As: menu items, buttons

  • Dancing Penguins (Chapter Penguins, ↑Another Manual): This is a reference to a chapter in another manual.