Further Notes on proc

Monday Nov 17th 2008 by Juliet Kemp

Tip of the Trade: Learn more about proc, how it works and how to get the most out of it.

Juliet Kemp
The previous column looked at using /proc to examine. There's a lot of other information available there as well. proc is fundamentally a myth: It's a virtual filesystem, and when you ask to read a file, it talks to other bits of the kernel, retrieves the information, and hands it back as though it were a file. This makes it great both for communication between different parts of the system and prodding around at.

You are probably already familiar with cpuinfo and meminfo, which tell you about the machine's CPU and memory respectively. You can also get uptime and version information from uptime and version. This, in fact, is where the uname command gets its information.

The net/ directory provides the raw info for various networking information commands, such as route. The text-system communication of /proc goes both ways: As well as accessing information, you can change it by editing the various files. Look at /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ to see some values that you can change if you want.

partitions gives information on the partitions — this can be more useful than using df and quicker than fdisk. filesystems lists the filesystems that the kernel can deal with, and marks them with nodev if they're either virtual or networked. This is handy if you're dealing with filesystems on remote hardware, or a Mystery Hard Drive, to check what filesystems you are able to read.

Spend some time having a poke through /proc with the man page to find out what else is there.

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