Analyzing all packages available in a large system is a very time-consuming process. It takes between 10 and 20 minutes to analyze the configuration of a typical user on a Sun Enterprise-250 server, depending upon system load. Typically we invoke sowhat for data collection in background or overnight runs and store the results for later perusal and comparison. Runs of sowhat can be incremental or restarted from a previous failure. Sowhat is also capable of running in a differential mode in which it compares its recorded data against the system to detect potentially damaging changes.
Sowhat has educated us about our practices and the state of our program repositories in a way we could never have seen without it. It provides a previously unavailable window into our systems that informs us not only of potential problems, but also gives us a general overview of the health of our program repositories and the impact of our management practices.