Linux Process Accounting

When installing a fresh copy of Fedora, make sure to select the psacct and sysstat packages and run chkconfig psacct on to enable process accounting. Always a good thing to have snapshots of activity to show which processes and users are sucking up the most system time and bandwidth.

Process accounting was invaluable over the past few days while diagnosing problems with Tomcat4. One of our servers kept spiking up to a load average of well over 100, kernel panicing, and going unresponsive to pings. After various Web searches, we found that other people were experiencing similar problems with Tomcat4 where a server that had been operating normally for months (or years) suddenly started randomly crashing and burning.

After seeing recommendations to upgrade to Jetty or Tomcat5, we chose Tomcat5 for simplicity of configuration and that solved our problem. Hopefully, it won’t happen again.

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