tool for detecting and diagnosing dropped network packets


Dropwatch is a utility to help developers and system administrators to diagnose problems in the Linux Networking stack, specifically their ability to diagnose where packets are getting dropped. Dropwatch aims to improve on the following shortcomings:

 1) Consolidation, or lack thereof. Currently, to check the status of
 dropped packets in the kernel, one needs to check at least 3 places, and
 possibly more: The /proc/net/snmp file, the netstat utility, the tc
 utility, and ethtool. Dropwatch aims to consolidate several of those
 checks into one tool, making it easier for a sysadmin or developer to
 detect lost packets

 2) Clarity of information. Dropped packets are not obvious. A sysadmin
 needs to be intimately familiar with each of the above tools to
 understand which events or statistics correlate to a dropped packet and
 which do not. While that is often self evident, it is also often not.
 Dropwatch aims to improve that clarity.

 3) Ambiguity. Even when a dropped packet is detected, the causes for
 those dropped packets are not always clear. Does a UDPInError mean the
 application receive buffer was full, or does it mean its checksum was
 bad? Dropwatch attempts to disambiguate the causes for dropped packets.

 4) Performance. Utilities can be written to aggregate the data in the
 various other utilities to solve some of these problems, but such
 solutions require periodic polling of several interfaces, which is far
 from optimal, especially when lost packets are rare. This solution
 improves on the performance aspect by implementing a kernel feature which
 allows asynchronous notification of dropped packets when they happen.

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