“Pardon the rant, but every time I open a ticket with Blackboard Support it seems they always need another piece of information to investigate the issue discussed in the ticket. I spend days in a back and forth conversation with a support person asking for different files. This wastes precious time, and delays a response to finding a solution. In the end, I get emails from the effected user asking for an update. I become frustrated as well as the user. I need to find a new way to resolve end this lag time.”
That was the rant I had with a colleague a few months back. It seemed that it was time to find a new way to resolve this issue. So I thought that if I could write a script that collects commonly requested information by Blackboard Support, then have it zipped into a file which I could then attach to the case and save some time. I knew that this script would need to collect a lot of information, so I would need to learn what information it needed to collect. I talked with Blackboard Support and they suggested that I collect several different files. I organized the files requested by support into five categories that should address the different issues we commonly face.
This file set includes the following files:
These files should answer most of the questions about how the Blackboard Learn instance is configured.
This file set contains the following files:
- bb-access-log from the logs/tomcat folder
- stdout-stderr-log from the logs/tomcat folder
- catalina-log.txt from the logs/tomcat folder
- along with the configuration files we just mentioned
To diagnose a performance issue it is also import and to collect the output from several diagnostic tools, these are collected and included in the file set by the script:
- a perf_report
- output from the vmstat command
- four thread dumps
- top commands ran every thirty seconds.
Patch and Updates
This file set contains the following files:
- All the files from the update-tools log folder
- bb-installer-log.txt file
- A list of all patches that have been applied to the server
Course Copies, Archives, and Restores
This file set contains:
- The content-exchange-log.txt from the content-exchange folder
This file set has these files:
- all safeassign logs
These files and output data were described by Blackboard Support as very important to getting issues addressed and quickly start work on most Blackboard Support tickets. Once I had this information, I then created a script that would collect this data for me, or anyone that needed to open a ticket with Blackboard Support about our instance. In my script, there are several things that needed to happen.
- When the script runs on a node, it requests an email address. This email address must match a specific domain before it will be allowed to move on. If it doesn’t match, the script errors out, this prevents sensitive data from being sent to an incorrect address.
- Once the email address is accepted, the script creates a folder within the logs directory of our blackboard application server. This is where the files will be copied to create a zip file later.
- Within this folder each category gets its own subdirectory where the files will go.
- The script then starts to copy the files for the configuration and performance directories.
- The script now runs the performance report, top command, vmstat command along with the four thread dumps and zips them into a file before moving the zipped file to the performance folder and continuing to copy performance files.
- Then the script copies the information for the patches and updates directory
- Then it copies the files for course copies, restores, and archives along with safassign files into their directories.
- It adds a readme.txt file that allows the support person to know what information is within the subdirectories.
- The system will zip the directory up and email it as an attachment to the email address given earlier.
- I can download the attached file and then add it to the case.
This script has saved me a lot of time and energy, especially when I have to collect these logs on all of our production nodes. When Blackboard Support requests this information, I always tell them it’s attached in the first comment. Which normally surprises, and I hope pleases, them. Please feel free to use or adapt this in your Blackboard Learn environment. Below are the readme.txt and bb_log_collection.txt script files for Linux. Sorry for Windows users, but you can look at the information here and hopefully create a script for the Windows OS, and even if a person doesn’t want to create a script, the common files should at least give you a good head start.