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LPI exam 201 prep: Troubleshooting

Intermediate Level Administration (LPIC-2) topic 214

Brad Huntting (, Mathematician, University of Colorado
Brad has been doing UNIX systems administration and network engineering for about 14 years at several companies. He is currently working on a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and pays the bills by doing UNIX support for the Computer Science department.
David Mertz, Developer, Gnosis Software
David Mertz
David Mertz is Turing complete, but probably would not pass the Turing Test. For more on his life, see his personal Web page. He's been writing the developerWorks columns Charming Python and XML Matters since 2000. Check out his book Text Processing in Python.

Summary:  In this tutorial, Brad Huntting and David Mertz continue preparing you to take the Linux Professional Institute® Intermediate Level Administration (LPIC-2) Exam 201. The last of eight tutorials, this tutorial focuses on what you can do when things go wrong. It builds on material already covered in more detail in earlier tutorials.

View more content in this series

Date:  02 Sep 2005
Level:  Intermediate PDF:  A4 and Letter (220 KB | 10 pages)Get Adobe® Reader®

Activity:  16531 views

Before you start

Learn what these tutorials can teach you and how you can get the most from them.

About this series

The Linux Professional Institute (LPI) certifies Linux system administrators at junior and intermediate levels. To attain each level of certification, you must pass two LPI exams.

Each exam covers several topics, and each topic has a weight. The weights indicate the relative importance of each topic. Very roughly, expect more questions on the exam for topics with higher weight. The topics and their weights for LPI exam 201 are:

Topic 201
Linux kernel (weight 5).
Topic 202
System startup (weight 5).
Topic 203
File systems (weight 10).
Topic 204
Hardware (weight 8).
Topic 209
File and service sharing (weight 8).
Topic 211
System maintenance (weight 4).
Topic 213
System customization and automation (weight 3).
Topic 214
Troubleshooting (weight 6). The focus of this tutorial.

The Linux Professional Institute does not endorse any third-party exam preparation material or techniques in particular. For details, please contact

About this tutorial

Welcome to "Troubleshooting," the last of eight tutorials designed to prepare you for LPI exam 201. In this tutorial, you review material already covered in more detail in earlier tutorials but with a focus on learning what to do when things go wrong.

The tutorial is organized according to the LPI objectives for this topic, as follows:

2.214.2 Creating recovery disks (weight 1)
You will be able to create both a standard bootdisk for system entrance and a recovery disk for system repair.
2.214.3 Identifying boot stages (weight 1)
You will be able to determine, from bootup text, the four stages of boot sequence and distinguish between each.
2.214.4 Troubleshooting LILO (weight 1)
You will be able to determine specific stage failures and corrective techniques.
2.214.5 General troubleshooting (weight 1)
You will be able to recognize and identify boot loader- and kernel-specific stages and utilize kernel boot messages to diagnose kernel errors. This objective includes identifying and correcting common hardware issues, and determining if the problem is hardware or software.
2.214.6 Troubleshooting system resources (weight 1)
You will be able to identify, diagnose, and repair your local system environment.
2.214.8 Troubleshooting environment configurations (weight 1)
You will be able to identify common local system and user environment configuration issues and common repair techniques.

Troubleshooting a Linux system that is not working -- or more especially, is not entirely working -- is probably the most frustrating part of system administration. Linux is not special in this regard. With Linux, common tasks -- adding new hardware or software, tweaking the behavior of installed software, or scripting and scheduling routine operations -- are straightforward. But when a running system suddenly stops, you are presented with a dizzying collection of things that might be wrong.

This tutorial cannot solve all real-world problems, but it does point to tools that are helpful in the troubleshooting process (most touched briefly on in other tutorials) and reminds you of the best places to look for sources of trouble. In troubleshooting, a good understanding of Linux, combined with patience and elbow grease, will go a long way.


To get the most from this tutorial, you should already have a basic knowledge of Linux and a working Linux system on which you can practice the commands covered in this tutorial.

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TutorialTitle=LPI exam 201 prep: Troubleshooting