Power Issue: Diagnostics & Troubleshooting

How to avoid sudden shutdowns and reboots

Power issues are common in Linux servers. These issues typically manifest as sudden shutdowns, reboots or the server failing to power on. Power issues can be caused by hardware problems, such as faulty power supplies, or software problems, such as kernel panics caused by driver bugs.

Understanding the Linux Kernel

The Kernel is the core part of the operating system. It's responsible for managing the system's resources, and it's also where device drivers live. Kernel bugs, especially in device drivers, can cause unexpected system behavior. Power management is a particularly tricky area, and bugs here can cause power issues.

Diagnosing Power Issues

There are a few different places you can look to diagnose power issues. The /var/log/syslog and /var/log/kern.log files contain system and kernel log messages, respectively. If the server shut down unexpectedly, you might see some clues here. The dmesg command can also be used to view kernel messages.

For example, to view the last ten lines of the system log, you can use the command:

tail -n 10 /var/log/syslog

And to view kernel messages:


Troubleshooting Power Issues

Once you've gathered some information, the next step is to start troubleshooting. This will depend on what you've found so far. For example, if you've found a kernel panic in the log files, you might need to update or disable the offending kernel module. If the logs show that the system shut down because it was overheating, you might need to clean some dust out of the server or replace a fan.

Common Applications Causing Power Issues

Some applications can cause power issues by putting too much load on the server. For example, a poorly optimized database query might cause the CPU to run at 100% for extended periods, which can lead to overheating and shutdowns. The top command can be used to view the running processes and their CPU usage.

Power Issue Prevention

Of course, the best way to deal with power issues is to prevent them in the first place. Regular maintenance of both hardware and software can go a long way towards preventing power issues. This includes regular updates, cleaning, and replacing hardware components as necessary.


Power issues can be a major headache, but with the right tools and knowledge, they can be diagnosed and fixed. Understanding the Linux shell, kernel, and system logs can go a long way towards keeping your server running smoothly.

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