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Essential System Administration, 3rd Edition by Æleen Frisch

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Chapter 17. Accounting

Virtually all current Unix systems provide some form of user-based process accounting: the operating system tracks system usage by recording statistics about each process that is run, including its UID. In addition, records are kept of the image that was run by the process and the system resources (such as memory, CPU time, and I/O operations) that it used.

The accounting system is designed for tracking system resource usage, primarily so that users can be charged money. The data collected by the accounting system can also be used for some types of system performance monitoring and security investigations (see Chapter 15 and Chapter 7).

There are two distinctaccounting systems in use, originating from the traditional vanilla BSD and System V environments. Although they are quite different, they are based on the same raw data. Hence, the sort of information that may be gleaned from them is essentially identical, although output methods and formats are not. They also suffer from the same limitations; for example, neither system provides for project-based accounting in any straightforward way.

As with all accounting systems, the Unix accounting software places a small but detectable load on the system. BSD-style accounting used to be enabled in new systems but is generally disabled these days; the process for enabling it is described later in this chapter. System V-style accounting is always initially disabled and must be set up by the system administrator.

On many ...

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