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"Consider also using Nagios..."
No doubt, Nagios is good stuff, but i wonder how this hint is related to the OP.
What oikool needs is $? >> 8, isn't it?
Without $? >> 8 he can't neither monitor that service nor restart it.
"...simply configure this service to auto-restart. A “one-of-a-kind” Perl script ought not be required to get this done."
Nope. Nagios can't be simply configured to restart a service. One needs to write an event handler.
You need two scripts to accomplish this: one for the service check and one for the event handler.
And setting up a robust solution for this is still a bit tricky. See State Types a.s.o.
Best regards, Karl
«The Crux of the Biscuit is the Apostrophe»