This page has information about System Tap, which is of interest to embedded developers, because tracers are a useful tool for diagnosing problems during product development.
SystemTap is a flexible and extensible system for adding trace collection and analysis to a running Linux kernel.
SystemTap is designed to be very flexible (allowing for the insertion of arbitrary C code), yet also easy-to-use (most trace statements are written in a simple scripting language, with useful data collection and aggregation routines available in (essentially) library form).
A key aspect of SystemTap is that it is intended to allow you to create a trace set (a "tapset"), and run it on a running Linux system, with no modification or re-compilation of the system required. To do this, it uses the kernel KProbes interface and loadable kernel modules to dynamically add probe points and newly generated code to the running kernel.
Open Source Projects/Mailing Lists
The main SystemTap site is at: http://sourceware.org/systemtap/
The SystemTap mail list archives are at: http://sourceware.org/ml/systemtap/
The tutorial, which gives a good overview of the system, is at: http://sourceware.org/systemtap/tutorial/
There are several types of probes:
- kprobe & kretprobe, for dynamically insterted probes
- static instrumentation markers
- performance counter events
In the future, there may be:
- user-space probes,
- user-space return probes, and
- watchpoint probes (kernel & user)
- and more
Note that SystemTap is one of the major tracing systems for the Linux kernel.
There is work afoot (as of spring 2006) to try to collaborate on different parts of the tracing problem, between some of the major tracing projects. See the Tracing Collaboration Project page for more information.
Some Performance measurements
Jian Gui writes (in July 2006 on the System Tap mailing list):
Hi, we've tested the overhead of systemtap/LKET with some benchmarks on a ppc64 machine. It shows the overhead of systemtap/LKET is acceptable generally. But it will also cause significant overhead for some benchmark of special behavior, e.g. dbench. Dbench calls kill() in a very high frequency to check whether a task is complete, thus leads to a high overhead. We categorized the event hooks into five groups in the testing: grp1 - syscall.entry, process grp2 - syscall.return, process grp3 - iosyscall, ioscheduler, scsi, aio, process grp4 - tskdispatch, pagefault, netdev, process grp5 - syscall.entry, syscall.return, process All the results are (score1 - score2)/score2 * 100%, where: score1: the benchmark score when probed by systemtap score2: the benchmark score without probing dbench (<3% is noise) -------------------- grp1 -14.4% grp2 -33.1% grp3 -7.92% grp4 -13.6% grp5 -43.3% specjbb (<3% is noise) --------------------- grp 1 -0.87% grp 2 -0.67% grp 4 +0.47% grp 5 +0.05% tiobench (<3% is noise) ---------------------- grp1 sequential reads +1.45% sequential writes -6.98% random reads +0.57% random writes -2.11% grp2 sequential reads +0.11% sequential writes -5.81% random reads +0.03% random writes -2.11% grp3 sequential reads +1.42% sequential writes -6.98% random reads +0.51% random writes -2.11% grp4 sequential reads +1.38% sequential writes -5.81% random reads +0.60% random writes -2.11% grp5 sequential reads +0.22% sequential writes -8.14% random reads -0.10% random writes -1.05% Rawiobench (<3% is noise) ------------------------ grp1 sequential aioread() 0% sequential aiowrite() 0% random aioread() 0% random aiowrite() 0% grp2 sequential aioread() 0% sequential aiowrite() 0% random aioread() 0% random aiowrite() -0.82% grp3 sequential aioread() 0% sequential aiowrite() 0% random aioread() 0% random aiowrite() 0% grp4 sequential aioread() 0% sequential aiowrite() 0% random aioread() +0.79% random aiowrite() -0.82% grp5 sequential aioread() 0% sequential aiowrite() -6.41% random aioread() +0.79% random aiowrite() 0% Test environment: Machine: Open Power 720/ 8 cpus/ 2 cores/ 6GB RAM (tiobench use 1G) Software: RHEL4-U3GA/ 188.8.131.52/ systemtap-20060718/ elfutils-0.122-0.4