Modern hardware features built-in sensors that can be used to read temperature sensor values and fan speeds. These detect if a system is overheating or if a fan is broken. A standard suite for reading the built-in sensors on Linux is the lm_sensors package. If configured properly, this application can monitor various hardware parameters, such as voltage levels and fan speeds. The package contains a command-line application to show current values and a daemon that runs in the background and alerts upon any failures.
In addition, you can also check the health of hard disks through SMART. That is a standard implemented on most IDE (PATA), SCSI, or SATA hard drives and allows access to the disk's built-in defect management. Sometimes you can detect disk errors before they endanger system stability by monitoring the appropriate SMART values and error logs. To access these values, you don't need any special kernel configuration. The smartmontools package contains applications that query the values by accessing the disk device nodes: smartctl can be used to perform self tests and get SMART attributes instantly, whereas smartd can be launched in the background to monitor the disk's health and send notifications upon troubles.
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