Chapter 2


Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Chinese proverb (English equivalent)

I began my tech career as a junior system administrator, and I thought I could learn performance by studying command-line tools and metrics alone. I was wrong. I read man pages from top to bottom and learned the definitions for page faults, context switches, and various other system metrics, but I didn’t know what to do with them: how to move from signals to solutions.

I noticed that, whenever there was a performance issue, the senior system administrators had their own mental procedures for moving quickly through tools and metrics to find the root cause. They understood which metrics ...

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