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LPIC1 & CompTIA Linux+ Intro

Hardware Settings

Boot the System

Change Runlevels and Reboot or Shutdown the System

Design Hard Disk Layout

Install a Boot Manager

Manage Shared Libraries

Debian Package Management

RPM & YUM Package Management

Work on the Command Line

Process Text Streams Using Filters

Perform Basic File Management

Use Streams, Pipes, and Redirects

Create, Monitor, and Kill Processes

Process Priorities

00:00:01 - Hello and welcome to this nugget, where we're going to be talking about
00:00:05 - Process Priorities as far as it relates to other priorities
00:00:09 - in the Linux System. Now this topic has a weight of
00:00:15 - two. So what that means is that in the LPIC Test you're probably
00:00:19 - only going to have a couple questions relating to to these
00:00:22 - topics but they're really key and integral when you're a system
00:00:26 - administrator to understand what's going on in your system.
00:00:28 - So we're gonna go, we're gonna go over this very thoroughly.
00:00:31 - Now before we start actually talking about how to manipulate
00:00:34 - things like Process Priorities and nice levels I should explain
00:00:38 - what a nice level even means. So I'm going to explain what niceness means.
00:00:42 - I'm going to show you some tools so that you can manipulate
00:00:45 - those, so you can identify those nice levels and then
00:00:48 - afterwards, I'll show you some tools so that you can manipulate those
00:00:51 - levels,so that the computer will bend to your every whim.
00:00:55 - But first of all what does it mean for a process to be
00:00:58 - nice? Well, just like people, if a process is nice, has a
00:01:03 - higher nice level, it's going to allow the other processes
00:01:07 - on the running system to have more of the processors' time and
00:01:12 - something with a lower nice level or not as nice is going
00:01:16 - to hog that CPU time, all to itself. Now it does get a little
00:01:20 - bit confusing. For example, there are numbers assigned
00:01:23 - to different nice levels and the numbers go all the way from
00:01:26 - a negative 20
00:01:28 - all the way to a positive 19.
00:01:33 - So now, if you remember back to school where you learned absolute
00:01:36 - values, this range gives you a range in the negative and
00:01:40 - the positive with zero being right around in the middle. Now what
00:01:44 - does that mean? Unfortunately it gets a little confusing because
00:01:47 - these negative numbers, so a negative nice level again means
00:01:52 - it has a higher priority and then a higher nice level means
00:01:56 - that it has a lower priority. And that confuses me and I have
00:02:00 - a little trick that sadly, I have to use more often than I'd
00:02:03 - like to admit. Basically let's think about a checkbook. If
00:02:07 - you have a checkbook and there is money in it. Well that's
00:02:10 - a good thing, but let's say your checkbook goes in the negative.
00:02:13 - Well if you have a negative number in your checkbook that is
00:02:17 - going to be like the highest priority in your life. So the
00:02:21 - same kind of thing is true with nice levels on the computer.
00:02:25 - So if you want to use my trick, if you have a checkbook in the
00:02:27 - negative it's a high priority. Well feel free to do that. Otherwise,
00:02:31 - just know that higher nice levels mean that it's nicer to the
00:02:35 - other processes running. So anyway, you have a grasp of basically
00:02:38 - how the Linux Kernel looks at different values for nice.
00:02:42 - So what is nice or how do you identify how nice programs are
00:02:46 - behaving.?Well, let's take a look.
00:02:49 - Okay, so the first command we're going to look at is the ps
00:02:53 - command. Now ps will just show you this the processes that are
00:02:56 - running. Now if run with no flags you'll just see the processes running
00:02:59 - in this current terminal window which is basically just bash
00:03:03 - which is my shell and ps, the command I just ran which isn't terribly
00:03:08 - useful as you can imagine. So what there are, are a bunch
00:03:11 - of different flags and you can look in the man page for ps
00:03:16 - and it will show you all these different flags and it has a
00:03:19 - bunch of different suggestions. And I'll just tell you a few that
00:03:22 - people commonly use. A lot of people like ps a-u-x.
00:03:28 - What that does it gives you -- oh, my goodness-- the screen full
00:03:32 - of information. But basically if you scroll up it will give
00:03:35 - you a column by column of what you have here. You have what
00:03:38 - user is running the program, the process ID of that particular
00:03:41 - program. As you can see it shows all the processes because it
00:03:44 - started you know, the very first processes in it; process two, process three, process four
00:03:48 - process five. How much CPU it's
00:03:51 - using. How much memory it's using. Some things I'm not even
00:03:54 - sure what all of these are to be quite honest but it gives
00:03:57 - you a whole bunch of information about the running processes.
00:04:01 - Some people like ps a-l-x which gives you
00:04:06 - the long view of all the running processes. The nice thing
00:04:10 - about this is it will also show you the, the nice level which
00:04:15 - the other one didn't do so again the user ID, process ID,
00:04:19 - the nice levels here. All of these different things
00:04:24 - along with the command way over here. I'll be quite honest. A lot
00:04:28 - of these have more information, again, you could tell when I
00:04:30 - would say things like I don't really even know this column
00:04:33 - is. So what I like to do is either do, you know, something really
00:04:37 - quick like ps a-u-x and then you know,
00:04:42 - grep, look for g-d-m, the known display manager and see, oh they're
00:04:46 - here, you know I have some information on that display manager that
00:04:50 - I was looking for. You can go through that stuff. But you can also make
00:04:54 - ps bend to your will -- wa ha ha ha. Basically you're in ps
00:05:01 - minus e for everything. It will show all the processes, and o for ouptut
00:05:05 - format. And that's where you can just go through and like say
00:05:08 - I want to see the user ID, the process ID. I want to
00:05:13 - see how much CPU it's using, the nice level, the
00:05:18 - command itself and if you do that --oh, see now it's
00:05:23 - just going to show you all of this stuff --
00:05:27 - oh, CPU actually.
00:05:30 - CPU was the wrong flag there that shows which CPU here;
00:05:37 - pcpu.
00:05:38 - There that's a little better.
00:05:41 - So what it's going to show us now is, it's going to show
00:05:44 - us the user name who is running the command, the process ID number, the
00:05:47 - percent of the CPU, the nice level that's been assigned
00:05:51 - to that process and the command itself. So again, ps is a
00:05:55 - very powerful command and you can have it do all kinds of things.
00:05:59 - You can limit it by you know the user that you see.
00:06:03 - You can limit it by certain type of processes, but ps is a tool that
00:06:06 - you're going to use a lot especially in combination
00:06:10 - with again piping it through that grep command.
00:06:15 - So for example, looking at that g-d-m process again, you see it's
00:06:18 - running two different processes. These are the process ID's started
00:06:21 - by root. So you can, you can find out a lot of information
00:06:26 - about running processes using ps and that's a tool that you're going to use
00:06:30 - a lot -- just to see what's running. If something is pegged as a CPU
00:06:33 - you'll be able to identify that. There are
00:06:36 - a couple better ways to identify that and we'll talk about that
00:06:39 - in just a minute. But before we we stop with the, with the ps
00:06:44 - thing here, I do want to show you -- now this is a command this
00:06:46 - is in the curriculum for for LPIC-1. So this is something
00:06:49 - you have to know but I've been a system admin for 15 years
00:06:53 - now and never have I used this command. So do with that what you will.
00:06:57 - The command is pstree. Now what pstree does it shows you
00:07:02 - a very visually appealing display of all the processes that
00:07:06 - are running in this parent child tree. So for example, everything
00:07:11 - is below init because that's the very first process that
00:07:14 - runs everything else. NetworkManager then has these child
00:07:17 - processes, g-d-m has these child processes and what, what child
00:07:22 - and parent means is that
00:07:24 - x-session manager actually started all of these so if the x-session
00:07:28 - manager dies all of these programs will die too. So again,
00:07:32 - it's nice visual representation of what's running on your system.
00:07:35 - But, apart from you know, maybe saying, wow, look at all that stuff running,
00:07:39 - I don't know that it's extremely valuable from a system administrator
00:07:43 - standpoint. But you need to know what it does because like
00:07:45 - I said it could very well be on the test. So ps and pstree --
00:07:51 - ps is something you're going to use a lot, pstree maybe not so much. But you know it
00:07:54 - looks nice, the output anyway and you need to know it.
00:07:59 - Okay, so we've explained the ps command. You're familiar with
00:08:02 - what ps does and especially and I know I've said it over and over but just
00:08:05 - really drive the point home, the two you're going to use with that
00:08:08 - a lot is grep. So, ps plus grep, again the one two punch
00:08:12 - combination for finding system programs running. We went
00:08:16 - over briefly what pstree does. Again, it shows that visual representation
00:08:21 - of the hierarchy of commands running in the Linux Kernel,
00:08:26 - which is just a fancy way of of showing you, you know who started
00:08:29 - what. And then what we have next are tools that -- one more
00:08:34 - tool to show things that are running. And top is is a really powerful
00:08:37 - tool. It's something that you're going to use it in different scenarios
00:08:42 - than you use ps, but it's something that's just as powerful and
00:08:45 - just as often used. So let's go take a look at that right
00:08:48 - right now. Here we are back in our Linux box. Let's open up a terminal
00:08:53 - and just type the command top t-o-p. Now what top does it shows
00:08:58 - you all the running commands and its a
00:09:02 - very convenient default that it has; is that it sorts the, the different
00:09:07 - rows here by the percent CPU column. So if you have an application
00:09:12 - like for example Firefox is known like if you're in a heavy
00:09:14 - duty Flashlight or something. A lot of times Firefox will either
00:09:18 - lockup or just use like 100% CPU and behave
00:09:22 - really really slowly and that's just, you know again, we'll
00:09:27 - see in another section that, you know, back when we talked about
00:09:30 - managing processes, you can actually kill it. But one of the things
00:09:33 - I want to point out in this nugget, is that the nice level,
00:09:38 - again the nice level here is displayed as well. So we can
00:09:42 - if you press H you can see that you can change the sort field
00:09:45 - by doing greater than or less than. So what we can do is if
00:09:49 - you really want to see, we'll sort by na, na, na, na, there sorted by the nice
00:09:56 - level. Okay, so all of these things have a zero nice level.
00:10:01 - So the nicest commands are going to be at the top, command of zero.
00:10:05 - Now let's do --I'm going to start a process of running
00:10:09 - in the background with a different nice level just so you
00:10:12 - can see it. I'll show you how to do that in the next section,
00:10:15 - but I'm going to get one going, so we can see it happening
00:10:21 - Okay so here you see now there's this command by user spowers
00:10:25 - which is me and I'm running a sleep command which doesn't
00:10:28 - do anything but sleep. But it's very useful for our purposes
00:10:31 - right now and it has a nice level of 10. Now what that means
00:10:35 - is, now again you remember the checkbook example, this
00:10:39 - means that it's nicer. It's using less priority than all
00:10:43 - of these other ones that are at a lower nice level, which means
00:10:46 - a higher priority. So top is a way that you can see what the
00:10:50 - nice level is and you can also -- you know we talked before about
00:10:54 - this kind of stuff. This is where nice is most often used,
00:10:56 - looking for the CPU stuff but for this nugget again, the nice level,
00:11:00 - the priority that it's, it's running at is key. And why I wanted
00:11:04 - to show you the CPU and the nice level thing. There
00:11:07 - are some scripts that will look for processes taking up a bunch
00:11:10 - of CPU time and instead of killing them off; what they'll
00:11:14 - do, is they'll assign them a nice level of 19. So what
00:11:19 - that effectively does it says, okay you can use a 100%
00:11:22 - of the CPU as long as no other application wants to do it.
00:11:26 - So if you're one of those people that run like Sedi at home or
00:11:29 - or one of those distributed computing programs, if
00:11:32 - it runs at a really high nice level like nice level 19,
00:11:37 - your system won't be affected by running slower pokey, but
00:11:41 - you can still use your CPU's idle time, if you will.
00:11:45 - So again this nice levels displayed in top and that's how you
00:11:48 - can see what, what nice level priority has.
00:11:53 - So that means that we now understand different ways that you
00:11:57 - can identify a computer's or a processes' nice level. So
00:12:02 - we've gone over top, we've gone over ps, and again I didn't just show you
00:12:06 - identifying the nice level. What that means as
00:12:09 - far as the CPU usage means too. So anyway, ps and top and now
00:12:15 - I'm going to take you to the next step. What if you want to
00:12:19 - manage what those levels are. You can actually start
00:12:23 - a process with a certain nice level which makes sense if you
00:12:26 - know that you want that to have a certain priority level. And
00:12:29 - if there's something already running you can renice that
00:12:32 - program. So change the level of that program's priority, the Kernel.
00:12:37 - So let's look at those right now.
00:12:40 - Okay so just a minute ago I ran that sleep command in the background,
00:12:43 - so that I can show you how it looked in top. Well, I'm going to do the
00:12:46 - same thing now. We're going to run sleep and we'll have it run for
00:12:51 - 5,000 seconds because if this nugget is going on in
00:12:54 - 5,000 seconds, I hope that you would have stopped it
00:12:56 - and gone and taken a nap. So we'll let that run, sleep for 5,000. We're
00:13:00 - just going to minimize this window, okay.
00:13:03 - So let's open up a new terminal window and what we're going
00:13:06 - to do -- if you start a process, it has a default level of
00:13:10 - zero. Okay, so if you start a process it gives it a level
00:13:13 - of zero. So let's look at that -- ps minus eo.
00:13:17 - Let's just look for the user name,
00:13:20 - the nice level and the command, okay.
00:13:24 - And let's look for; we know it's going to be sleep. Oop, not
00:13:29 - sleep; grep. We're going to grep the results for sleep. So here's what we have,
00:13:34 - all right. We have the user, me, spowers, the nice level of zero
00:13:39 - and the command is sleep, okay. So that's exactly what we would
00:13:44 - expect to see, because again, the default level; that command that you
00:13:46 - get when you start them is zero. So let's come back here.
00:13:50 - So we have that, that's the default level. What if we want
00:13:55 - the computer to run a command, no it doesn't have to be sleep,
00:13:57 - It can be like Firefox, it can be any program or you know a compiler,
00:14:02 - if you don't want to let you -- have your compiler hog
00:14:05 - up all of your computer resources, if you're compiling a big
00:14:08 - program. It can be any program you want to give a different
00:14:11 - priority level. But let's just keep using sleep because it's
00:14:14 - a very nice command. It just sits there and waits for us to
00:14:17 - jabber our jaws. So if you use the command nice is actually command
00:14:22 - as well, command
00:14:26 - nice and then what command you want to run.
00:14:29 - We're going to tell it to sleep 5,000 but again the
00:14:32 - nice command is starting it. So it's going to give it a different
00:14:37 - default level. If you don't specify what nice level
00:14:40 - it defaults to -- let's minimize this window again. Let's run that same exact command;
00:14:46 - again ps. We're looking for the sleep commands. So we're, you know,
00:14:50 - this format and then we're piping it through the grep
00:14:53 - command to look for sleep and you'll see that again I own it but the
00:14:58 - default nice level it gives it is 10 so which is about halfway
00:15:01 - from normal to super-duper nice lowest possible priority.
00:15:06 - It's kinda right there in the middle between zero and 19
00:15:09 - the highest level. So again, that's what happens if you just
00:15:13 - tell -- you know, just start a command with the nice program. So
00:15:17 - nice sleep 5,000 sets it at a level of --
00:15:21 - It sets it at 10. Let's say that 10 is not exactly what we want to use, okay.
00:15:29 - Let's say that we want to start; like say you want to play solitaire
00:15:35 - and you don't want anybody else to use the computer. You want
00:15:37 - to dominate the entire CPU or some other thing that makes
00:15:40 - a little more sense than playing solitaire. But what you can
00:15:42 - do is set the nice numbers. So nice minus n and and you can pick
00:15:45 - a number. Now remember the range is negative 20 for the
00:15:50 - highest priority all the way to a positive 19 for the
00:15:54 - least priority. So, if we want to make the computer
00:15:59 - sleep as hard as it can, or use the highest priority for sleeping,
00:16:05 - we'll do this -- uh, permission denied. Oh, no, what happened
00:16:11 - there? Let's try it some other way. Let's say nice minus n and
00:16:16 - we'll give it the lowest priority --
00:16:19 - sleep 5,000.
00:16:22 - Oh now it's not giving us a problem there, okay. So what happened? Well,
00:16:27 - if we do this command again we'll see sure enough it assigned that
00:16:29 - level of 19 which is what you'd expect. But how come
00:16:32 - it wouldn't let us do a negative number? Negative numbers are
00:16:35 - valid but you'll see it says Permission denied. Well, there's
00:16:40 - reasoning there and it's a good reason because what if you had
00:16:42 - somebody that really did want to play solitaire and give it
00:16:46 - that ridiculous nice level or somebody who is compiling
00:16:49 - a program in a shared environment and they said you know what,
00:16:51 - my program is more important than anybody else here. So I want
00:16:55 - to give it the highest priority. Well you have to be root to
00:16:58 - do that so either su as root or sudo and then
00:17:04 - the root user has the ability to set any level that makes
00:17:10 - sense again, negative 20 is the most possible or the highest
00:17:13 - possible priority. And sleep 5,000, it's going to ask
00:17:17 - me for my password.
00:17:20 - But it's not nic, it's nice.
00:17:23 - Computers are smart but you still have to actually know how
00:17:25 - to spell your commands. So nice and now since I did it as
00:17:29 - root -- if we look over here,
00:17:33 - oh, see sleep has a super-duper high priority. So anyway,
00:17:37 - that's how you can set something from the get-go with a certain
00:17:42 - level or a certain priority level, alright.
00:17:47 - Okay,so let's stop our ridiculously high processed
00:17:52 - nice command there alright and
00:17:56 - back here you'll see that it's not running anymore. There's no sleep command
00:18:01 - running. Let's say it was still running.
00:18:11 - See there it's running, but now it's running but we don't want it
00:18:15 - to be that high of a priority anymore. So what's a person to do?
00:18:19 - Well, let me give a real world example. Let's say you're in a
00:18:22 - lab and Johnny is running a game program and he gave himself
00:18:26 - somehow, well he's running at the default level of zero which
00:18:30 - you think is a little bit unfair for Johnny to be running, you
00:18:32 - know, his Halo demo at that level while the rest of
00:18:35 - the lab is trying to compile stuff on the server or some such
00:18:38 - thing like that. What you can do is renice things. Now if
00:18:42 - I am here. Now root owns that process now. You know I
00:18:47 - don't own that process now. See how when I owned it, it was
00:18:50 - at 19. Well now root owns it because it's below that, so I
00:18:54 - as a user here can't change that nice level. But,so sudo
00:18:58 - and we're going to renice, okay. And the process ID -- so
00:19:02 - minus p and then the process ID and you'll see that I didn't
00:19:05 - search for the process ID. So I don't know what it is.
00:19:09 - All right, well what we're going to have to do then is
00:19:12 - redo my command here. We have the user. And we're going to do the
00:19:17 - process ID.
00:19:20 - Aha, so now we have the user, the process ID and now we can
00:19:24 - renice it. So sudo,the root user, can do it again because
00:19:27 - it has that, that root is the owner -- sudo renice.
00:19:34 - Let's give it the nice level of 15. Okay, we'll pretend that
00:19:40 - Johnny's playing that game and we want to give him a low priority. So a renice
00:19:43 - to level 15, the process 10274,alright. Now it's going to ask me for my password.
00:19:51 - Old priority was negative 20. New priority is 15.
00:19:56 - So if we run our ps command again, it's going to show us
00:19:59 - that nice level has been changed. Now you can also use renice
00:20:03 - for a whole person. Let's say you're really upset at Johnny because he's
00:20:05 - running 12 copies of Halo and students are trying to get
00:20:08 - stuff done. Well what you can do is sudo, renice, we'll
00:20:15 - give him a level of 19, again the lowest priority level.
00:20:19 - And instead of minus p for the process we'll say minus u
00:20:23 - for Johnny. We'll say spowers because there is no
00:20:27 - Johnny but that's Sean Powers, I don't trust either, alright. So renice
00:20:31 - all those things and all of my processes used to have
00:20:36 - that the default level of zero. Now they have that level of 19, yikes!
00:20:41 - So now my computer system is going to be sluggish for
00:20:44 - me. I shouldn't have played Halo like that. So anyway that's
00:20:47 - the way that you can renice running applications.
00:20:51 - Okay so now we are professionals in the world of Process Priorities.
00:20:56 - We've learned how to start processes with nice at different
00:20:59 - levels, whether it's a higher nice level which means a lower
00:21:03 - priority or a lower nice level which means a higher priority.
00:21:06 - Again, remember my old checkbook scenario, if that confuses you.
00:21:10 - Then we also learned how to renice applications,
00:21:14 - so that we can change them. Now again it's really important
00:21:16 - to remember that if you're trying to lower the nice level or
00:21:20 - gives something a higher priority than zero you have to be
00:21:25 - root to do that. I guess the only exception would be like
00:21:28 - if you have an application running and you're a user and somehow
00:21:31 - you're applications running at negative 15. Well you do
00:21:34 - have the right to give it a lower priority of like negative
00:21:38 - five. It's just you can't raise a priority of a process to
00:21:43 - something less than zero unless you're root. That's just
00:21:47 - the way to protect people from, you know, taking over their
00:21:51 - CPU of their computer without root access. So anyway
00:21:54 - we've gone through the whole process. You understand nice.
00:21:57 - You know how -- what tools to use to identify what levels
00:22:02 - of priorities different processes have. And you know how to set
00:22:05 - and change those different priority levels. So I hope that
00:22:09 - this has been informative for you and I would like to thank
00:22:12 - you for viewing..

Search Text Files with Regular Expressions

Perform Basic File Editing Operations Using vi

Create Partitions and Filesystems

Maintain the Integrity of Filesystems

Control Mounting and Unmounting of Filesystems

Manage Disk Quotas

Manage File Permissions and Ownership

Create and Change Hard and Symbolic Links

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Shawn Powers

Shawn Powers

CBT Nuggets Trainer

Certifications:
LPIC-1; CompTIA Linux+, A+; Cisco CCNA

Area Of Expertise:
Linux

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