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Capture DSTRACE Conversations Without Speed Reading

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench

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Posted: 21 Jun 2001

Considering that DSTRACE was originally developed as an NDS debugger, it's no wonder that it poses multiple challenges when applied as a troubleshooting tool. But, coming to grips with its origins doesn't make it any more fun to deal with. DSTRACE messages fly off the screen at the speed of light and to glean any value from the content, you have to master the art of speed reading.

DS Expert changes all that.

NetPro's real-time monitoring and alerting software, DS Expert, not only ensures the health of NDS eDirectory 24x7 and sends proactive alerts to problems brewing in your directory, it captures DSTRACE messages from multiple servers and displays them on a single, scrollable screen. This unique feature in DS Expert called Multi-Server Trace completely eliminates the need to run RCONSOLE sessions server-by-server to examine DSTRACE activity when scouring the directory for errors.

What is DS Expert?

DS Expert is the only proactive monitoring and alerting solution available for eDirectory. It keeps constant tabs on the directory infrastructure and processes and alerts on error conditions as they occur, providing administrators with up-to-the-minute information on directory health. DS Expert assists administrators by identifying the location and nature of the problem, as well as any associated error codes. By identifying eDirectory errors early, DS Expert dramatically diminishes the amount of effort required to solve problems and prevents service interruptions caused by directory problems.

What is Multi-Server Trace?

Multi-Server Trace is a feature exclusive to DS Expert that allows administrators to review myriad DSTRACE messages in one easy-to-read screen, eliminating the need to conduct server-by-server RCONSOLE sessions and interpret the data as it spins off the screen.

Multi-Server Trace consistently emerges as one of the most compelling of DS Expert's features for two reasons. First, because administrators often need to delve deeper into trace messages to uncover the root causes of NDS errors. And second, because capturing and interpreting DSTRACE information manually is unwieldy and time consuming for even the most seasoned administrators.

Examining DSTRACE messages manually.

If you've spent any amount of time using DSTRACE to capture trace communications for multiple servers, you're well aware of the cumbersome process involved. Take Transport Failure (-625 error) for example. When this error appears on your screen, you know that a server has stopped communicating and that you're going to have to troubleshoot the problem in order to get a replica back in sync. So, you start DSTRACE on each server in the replica ring to get each server's view of the replica status.

To gather the information you need using DSTRACE, you would have to follow these steps:

  1. Invoke remote console sessions to servers hosting replicas of the partition in question.
  2. Enable TTF (Trace To File) on each server (unless you are an overconfident speed reader).
  3. Set the appropriate DSTRACE filters.
  4. Issue commands to force the servers to begin communicating.

Running multiple DSTRACE sessions side-by-side is time consuming. Catching trace messages as they fly off the screen at unreadable speeds can be exasperating. And, even if you do manage to save the information to a trace file and print it out, the manual, side-by-side comparisons still prove challenging and painfully inefficient.

Examining DSTRACE messages using DS Expert's Multi-Server Trace.

Reading DSTRACE messages has never been easier than with NetPro's DS Expert. The product's Multi-Server Trace feature allows you to view multiple DSTRACE communications quickly, easily and efficiently. Here's how:

  1. Under the Multi-Server Trace servers tab, simply select the servers you wish to examine.
  2. Under the filters tab, select from a list of filters, listed in plain English.
  3. Set the filters and watch the processes as they occur normally.
  4. To force a background process within DS Expert, simply use one of the product's many DSTRACE commands.

When you have finished making your server and filter selections, DS Expert displays the results of the filtering in a conversational style, highlighting errors in red. Multi-Server Trace enables you to scroll up or down the screen at your leisure to view the results, and it gives you the option to save the conversations for future reference. This eliminates the need for multiple log files and RCONSOLE connections. With DS Expert's Multi-Server Trace, you'll also save time that would otherwise be spent gathering remote console passwords, determining if REMOTE and RSPX have been loaded on the server, and accessing and viewing individual log files. From the DS Expert client you can also force a background process, if needed, and watch the impact of those commands via Multi-Server Trace.

It's important to remember that forcing background processes does impact server utilization and additional traffic will be generated as a result. The Multi-Server Trace option does not generate SPX traffic on the network. However, the volume of DS TRACE message traffic will depend upon the number of servers and types of filters you have selected for the session. As a general rule, you should expect one packet per DSTRACE message, plus one acknowledgment packet for one or more trace messages. A typical server with the default trace filters requested will generate roughly 20 DSTRACE messages per minute. This depends entirely on the number of replicas on the server, how frequently these replicas are being accessed and which filters are enabled.

Efficient and effective troubleshooting is within your reach with DS Expert - and speed-reading skills are not required. Try DS Expert and see for yourself how Multi-Server Trace delivers a centralized, straightforward environment for examining DSTRACE conversations, saving you valuable time on tedious, server-by-server comparisons.

To request a FREE evaluation of DS Expert and Multi-Server Trace or to view a DS Expert Flash demonstration, visit:

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