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20 Linux Server Performance Tips (Part1)

Just as we’ve provided a series of tips on how to make your Windows 2008 Server run at its utmost maximum efficiency and speed, Monitis has put together advice on making the Linux OS work miracles for you. Our interest is in making your life easier, whether it’s through informational guides such as these or by continually enhancing our monitoring cloudware with cutting-edge services.

With that in mind, here are 20 tips that you can apply to get your Linux server to run like a fox – not walk like a penguin.

All About Linux


First a bit of background. Linux is a free, open-source operating system based on Unix. It can support a variety of hardware platforms. Linux Server and Windows are very similar in their function – although Windows is an older operating system (OS) and is more popular, while Linux is the latest OS and is gaining global popularity in its implementation.

The main difference between Linux and Window is that the Linux server tends not to install the Graphical User Interface by default but instead leaves with a command line interface. The main aim of the Linux Server is to be more efficient at handling non-interactive processes. Here, response time is far less critical. Rather, the ability to handle heavy loads over long periods of time is the prime concern. Linux’s highly available server clustering solutions enables IT system admins to withstand many common hardware and software failures with little or no interruption of critical services. By allowing multiple computers to work together in order to offer these critical services, sysadmins can plan and execute maintenance and upgrades without service interruption.

The Linux server has various usages. For example, it can be used as a web server or office intranet server, a CMS or CRS server, a file server serving files to windows and/or Linux users, a voice-over IP telephony server, mail or domain name server, data base server, as an infrastructure node in a Cloud computing configuration and much more.

Performance Tips on Linux Server


For all the versatility and robustness of Linux, you can still massage it to make it more efficient and increase its utility. In this post, we’ll talk about some performance-enhancing tips that are categorized or based on Linux’s features and security set up.

In later posts, we’ll address ways you can improve Linux based on configuration, third-party apps, monitoring and troubleshooting and other methods.


Feature Based Tips:

Below are some performance tips based on Linux features. These performance guidelines will enhance Linux’s efficiency.

1. Tuning of the Elevator Algorithm in Linux Kernel for Disk I/O

After choosing the file system, there are several kernel and mounting options that can affect it. One such kernel setting is the elevator algorithm. By tuning the elevator algorithm, the system can balance the need for low latency with the need to collect enough data to efficiently organize batches of read and write requests to the disk.

2. Disable Unnecessary Daemons for Saving Memory and CPU space

There are numerous daemons or background services which run on every server, and the ironic thing is that they’re usually not required. But services with no utility still utilize valuable RAM and CPU time. In addition, they may expose the server to be attacked remotely. So, you should discard them from the server. The best place to disable them is the startup scripts that start these services at boot time. Disabling these daemons free up memory and decreases startup time. In addition, you’ll cut the number of processes that the CPU has to handle. Another benefit of disabling them is increased security of the server because fewer daemons mean fewer exploitable processes.

Some example Linux daemons running by default that should be disabled are below:

Sr. No.

Daemon

Description

1

Apmd

Advanced power management daemon

2

Nfslock

Used for file locking with NFS

3

Isdn

ISDN modem support

4

Autofs

Automatically mounts file systems on demand (i.e.: mounts a CD-ROM automatically)

5

Sendmail

Mail Transport Agent

6

Xfs

Font server for X Windows

3.Shutdown GUI

Broadly speaking, there is no requirement for a GUI on a Linux server. Hence, it is better to shut down GUI as all administration tasks can be achieved by the command line, redirecting the X display or through a Web browser interface.  In order to disable GUI, “init level” should be set to 3 (command line login), rather than 5 (graphical login). If a GUI is needed, it can always be started manually with startx.

4.Clean up modules or features

There are number of features enabled in server software packages (such as Apache) that are not really required. Look at the configuration files for Apache and decide if FrontPage support or some of the other extra modules re required. If the answer is “no,” disable unnecessary modules from the server. It helps in increasing the system memory, and it lends more resources to the software that truly needs it to run fast!

5. Disable control panels

In Linux, there are a number of the more popular control panels, such as Cpanel, Plesk, Webmin, and phpMyAdmin which everyone loves. However, disabling these software packages can make as much as 120 MB of RAM free! Hence it is advised to disable these control panels until they are actually needed. They can be turned on via a PHP script (albeit somewhat insecure), or via a command entered at a shell prompt. By doing this, you can decrease the amount of RAM being used by as much as 30-40%.

6. Improve Linux Exim Server Performance

There are various ways to improve Exim performance of a server. One of these is a use of a DNS caching daemon which will decrease bandwidth and CPU time spent resolving DNS records.  DNS caching improves network performance by eliminating the need to look up the DNS records of a given domain name each time a client needs to resolve a domain name. Djbdns is an extremely powerful DNS server, which is capable of DNS caching. Djbdns is more secure, and has better performance than the BIND DNS server. Djbdns may be obtained either directly through http://cr.yp.to/, or may be obtained through the package supplied by Red Hat.

Security Based Tips:

Security of your server is the most important point that you want to address and safeguard. Every user wants 100% safety of their data. Following are some of the measures to improve security of the data on Linux servers.

7. Increase gpg file encryption security using AES256

In order to increase backup files or sensitive information using gpg, you must specify gpg using AES256 cipher algorithm. AES256 will use 256 bit key. It is an open encryption algorithm and has been approved by the National Security Agency (NSA) for top secret information. Can’t get any safer than that!

8. Remote backup service security

Security is one of the most important factors for choosing a remote backup service. Most sysadmins are terrified of two things: the possibility of deletion of the backup files (by a hacker) and the impossibility of restoring a system from the backup.

In order to guarantee a 100% backup, use a backup service company that initiates a data transfer from their remote backup servers (using scp scripts or RSYNC over SSH). This way, no one has authority to access the remote system and hence no data can be deleted from a backup service.

We at Monitis hope that you can take some of these tips and improve the performance of your Linux servers. One of the best ways to guarantee your servers give you the utility you require is also to employ 24/7 monitoring
services
. Monitis performs internal and external server monitoring from the cloud – which means that, even if you have your firewall up and, heaven forbid, your network fails, we can still notify you of problem with your server.

A cloud-based monitoring solution is the best!

Stay tuned for more posts on how to improve Linux performance.

20 Linux Server Performance Tips (Part2)

About Mikayel Vardanyan