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Upstream Provider Woes? Point the Ping of Blame
Network Admin's Best Tool
October 28, 2004
Your users are complaining that "the Internet is, like, all slow." Users are always complaining, but you're seeing a lot of timeouts when you check mail, surf the Web, or try to log in for remote administration. Or even worse, latency is so bad that you keep getting killed all to heck in your favorite gory violent online multi-player game, so you know there is a problem. But there a lot of potential bottlenecks between your PC and the outside world, like your Internet gateway, proxy server, firewall, Internet service provider, and so forth, so where do you begin?
One of the best and most versatile network tools you can have is a notebook PC running Linux. This lets you plug in anywhere to run tests and find out what is going on. Make it a nothing-to-lose box--don't keep data on it so you can wipe and reinstall the operating system as necessary, because you want to be able to run tests outside of firewalls. Don't run any services. You can put a minimal iptables firewall on it, as there is no point in being totally exposed, but keep it simple. (Use MondoRescue to make a system snapshot for fast restores.)