Chapter 1. Introduction to Observability Tools

Bryan Cantrill’s foreword describes operating systems as “proprietary black boxes, welded shut to even the merely curious.” Bryan paints a realistic view of the not-too-distant past when only a small amount of the software stack was visible or observable. Complexity faced those attempting to understand why a system wasn’t meeting its prescribed service-level and response-time goals. The problem was that the performance analyst had to work with only a small set of hardwired performance statistics, which, ironically, were chosen some decades ago by kernel developers as a means to debug the kernel’s implementation. As a result, performance measurement and diagnosis became an art of inferencing and, in ...

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