A machine log that includes the information shown in Table 16-3 (next page) can help you find and fix system problems. Note the time and date for each entry in the log. Avoid the temptation to keep the log only on the computerit will be most useful to you when the system is down. Another good idea is to keep a record of all email about user problems. One strategy is to save this mail to a separate file or folder as you read it. Another approach is to set up a mail alias that users can send mail to when they have problems. This alias can then forward mail to you and also store a copy in an archive file. Following is an example of an entry in the /etc/aliases file (page 633 ) that sets up this type of alias:
Keep track of the system hardware configuration: which devices hold which partitions, the model of the new NIC you added, and so on.
Keep track of the options used when building Linux. Print such files as /usr/src/linux/.config (Linux kernel configuration) and the X11 configuration file /etc/X11/xorg.conf . The file hierarchy under /etc/sysconfig contains valuable information about network configuration, among other things.
Keep as accurate a list as possible of any problems with the system. Make note of any error messages or numbers that the system displays on the system console and identify what users were doing when the problem occurred.
Make a list of all reasonable complaints made by knowledgeable users (for example, "machine is abnormally slow").
Table 16-3. Machine log
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