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Release It! by Michael T. Nygard

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Enabling Technologies

By nature, a process running on a server is totally opaque. Unless you’re running a debugger on the process, it reveals practically nothing about itself. It might be working fine, it might be running on its very last thread, or it might be spinning in circles doing nothing. Like Schrodinger’s cat, it is impossible to tell whether the process is alive or dead until you look at it.

The very first trick, then, is getting information out of the process. This section examines the most important enabling technologies that reduce the opacity of that process boundary. You can classify these as either “white-box” or “black-box” technologies.

A black-box technology sits outside the process, examining it through externally observable ...

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