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this is my first post to this forum which I found through the superb podcast "It Conversations" from StackOverFlow. I am quite in my role as server administrator for an exhibition center in London. Basically we have a central file and sql server to which roughly 40 stations connects to to upload/download data used/captured by a set of applications.

Over the last weeks we have experienced a few random hangups to our applications, and as it always happen to multiple applications simultaneously I do not believe that the applications are the source of the problem. We also monitor the network using Dartware Intermapper which indicates that all switches and stations on the network has been reachable during the downtime. Thus, its all pointing to the server.

I have been looking through all log files I can think of and the only thing so far that I have found suspicious is the following lines in the syslog which are from the time of one of the hangups:

Feb  6 17:14:27 es named[5582]: client RFC 1918 response from Internet for
Feb  6 17:14:40 es named[5582]: client RFC 1918 response from Internet for
Feb  6 17:15:01 es /USR/SBIN/CRON[1956]: (es) CMD (/home/es/apps/es/bin/
Feb  6 17:16:06 es /USR/SBIN/CRON[2031]: (es) CMD (/home/es/apps/es/bin/
Feb  6 17:21:00 es named[5582]: *** POKED TIMER ***
Feb  6 17:21:00 es last message repeated 2 times
Feb  6 17:21:07 es named[5582]: client RFC 1918 response from Internet for
Feb  6 17:21:12 es named[5582]: client RFC 1918 response from Internet for

I find a few lines of interesting lines here:

1) "RFC 1918 response from Internet for". I see this a lot in the syslog. And basically everytime I do a nslookup for any of the computers in the cluster I get a new similar line in the syslog. I understand from google that this has to do with reverse lookup problems. But I do not know how that could effect the systems. Lets say that one of these lines appear every time one of the userstations connects to the server, which may happen several times a second. Could this possible cause a hangup of the entire server?

2) POKED TIMER, I have googled this quite a lot, but not found an explaination that I can relate to. What does this mean?

3) The timestamps, it seems like the entire server has stopped responding for several minutes. Normally there are many printouts to the syslog per minute on this server. Furthermore the CRON job is set to run once every minute. Which according to the log, hasent happened here.

OS: Ubuntu 8.04 Kernel: Linux 2.6.24-24-server x86_64 GNU/Linux. Hardware: Dell R710, RAID1, CPU: 2x XEON E5530. 16GB Memory. Average load is very low, and memory should not be a problem.

Please let me know if you need any additional information.

Best wishes

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It looks like incompability issues between the Dell PERC 6/i controller, the firmware in use and Ubuntu 8.04 LTS. This is indicated furthermost by posts on the Ubuntu formus. – Avada Kedavra Sep 21 '10 at 13:55
Did you check dmesg? – LatinSuD Sep 24 '10 at 21:24
Yes, couldn't find anything suspisious in dmesg and any of the other system logs... – Avada Kedavra Sep 24 '10 at 21:32

It's a very strange and bad situation. I never saw an host that stopped working for 5 minutes and then worked again without trouble and records in logs. Are you really sure that there are nothing in logs? What last tells? I'm not sure, but I don't think that the anomalies that you report in syslog are relevant for your problem. Do you have data about the time when in the syslog there aren't records? sysstat doesn't tell anything about those five minutes? If it doesn't because it isn't installed you could install it. And also the other logs have a gap between 17:16 and 17:21?

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Hello twistedbrain. Thank you very much for your input. I am very sorry for the late reply. I have checked and rechecked the logs. Unfortunately most of the logs from the incident above have been rotated out. But I have a more recent case with the same behaviour, this time the hangup lasted for about 2 minutes. The server is configured to write most of its debug/error messages to the syslog. So messages, deamon.log, auth.log etc doesnt tell me much new. Also catalina.out show the same behaviour, suddenly all activities drops to zero. – Avada Kedavra Feb 22 '10 at 19:07
Yes, all other logs also have a gap during the hangup. But again, except for syslog and catalina.out (as well as the logs from our own services, I do not have much to go on). I will take a look at and possible install sysstat. Also, the log entries from named was due to a badly configured local DNS server. This is fixed by now, and these messages do not appear in my logs no more. – Avada Kedavra Feb 22 '10 at 19:12
Sorry if I couldn't be of much help, but at the times of the freezes was there somone logged in? Not as a sensible solution, but as a guess you could try to change the kernel, maybe recompiling from source of the last stable release. – twistedbrain Feb 28 '10 at 15:07
Maybe instead of sar for monitoring the server (and or other tools in sysstat) you'd better to use top -b | gzip -c >> /var/log/top.log, maybe with interval longer thn the default (on my PC is 3 seconds), because the size of the log, at least here, will be about 3-4 MB / hours also gzipping on the fly. So you could see what happends to the server before and after the freeze (it is, which processes run and using which and how many resources). – twistedbrain Feb 28 '10 at 16:08
up vote 0 down vote accepted

The problems were related to a incompability issue between Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Hardy) and the Dell PERC 6/i RAID controller, as reported in this bug: Upgrading to Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Lucid (kernel 2.6.32) resolves the issue.

In case anyone else runs into the same issues.

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