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ftrace - Function Tracer
Copyright 2008 Red Hat Inc.
Author: Steven Rostedt <>
License: The GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
(dual licensed under the GPL v2)
Reviewers: Elias Oltmanns, Randy Dunlap, Andrew Morton,
John Kacur, and David Teigland.
Written for: 2.6.27-rc1
Ftrace is an internal tracer designed to help out developers and
designers of systems to find what is going on inside the kernel.
It can be used for debugging or analyzing latencies and performance
issues that take place outside of user-space.
Although ftrace is the function tracer, it also includes an
infrastructure that allows for other types of tracing. Some of the
tracers that are currently in ftrace include a tracer to trace
context switches, the time it takes for a high priority task to
run after it was woken up, the time interrupts are disabled, and
more (ftrace allows for tracer plugins, which means that the list of
tracers can always grow).
The File System
Ftrace uses the debugfs file system to hold the control files as well
as the files to display output.
To mount the debugfs system:
# mkdir /debug
# mount -t debugfs nodev /debug
(Note: it is more common to mount at /sys/kernel/debug, but for simplicity
this document will use /debug)
That's it! (assuming that you have ftrace configured into your kernel)
After mounting the debugfs, you can see a directory called
"tracing". This directory contains the control and output files
of ftrace. Here is a list of some of the key files:
Note: all time values are in microseconds.
current_tracer : This is used to set or display the current tracer
that is configured.
available_tracers : This holds the different types of tracers that
have been compiled into the kernel. The tracers
listed here can be configured by echoing their name
into current_tracer.
tracing_enabled : This sets or displays whether the current_tracer
is activated and tracing or not. Echo 0 into this
file to disable the tracer or 1 to enable it.
trace : This file holds the output of the trace in a human readable
format (described below).
latency_trace : This file shows the same trace but the information
is organized more to display possible latencies
in the system (described below).
trace_pipe : The output is the same as the "trace" file but this
file is meant to be streamed with live tracing.
Reads from this file will block until new data
is retrieved. Unlike the "trace" and "latency_trace"
files, this file is a consumer. This means reading
from this file causes sequential reads to display
more current data. Once data is read from this
file, it is consumed, and will not be read
again with a sequential read. The "trace" and
"latency_trace" files are static, and if the
tracer is not adding more data, they will display
the same information every time they are read.
iter_ctrl : This file lets the user control the amount of data
that is displayed in one of the above output
trace_max_latency : Some of the tracers record the max latency.
For example, the time interrupts are disabled.
This time is saved in this file. The max trace
will also be stored, and displayed by either
"trace" or "latency_trace". A new max trace will
only be recorded if the latency is greater than
the value in this file. (in microseconds)
trace_entries : This sets or displays the number of trace
entries each CPU buffer can hold. The tracer buffers
are the same size for each CPU. The displayed number
is the size of the CPU buffer and not total size. The
trace buffers are allocated in pages (blocks of memory
that the kernel uses for allocation, usually 4 KB in size).
Since each entry is smaller than a page, if the last
allocated page has room for more entries than were
requested, the rest of the page is used to allocate
This can only be updated when the current_tracer
is set to "none".
NOTE: It is planned on changing the allocated buffers
from being the number of possible CPUS to
the number of online CPUS.
tracing_cpumask : This is a mask that lets the user only trace
on specified CPUS. The format is a hex string
representing the CPUS.
set_ftrace_filter : When dynamic ftrace is configured in (see the
section below "dynamic ftrace"), the code is dynamically
modified (code text rewrite) to disable calling of the
function profiler (mcount). This lets tracing be configured
in with practically no overhead in performance. This also
has a side effect of enabling or disabling specific functions
to be traced. Echoing names of functions into this file
will limit the trace to only those functions.
set_ftrace_notrace: This has an effect opposite to that of
set_ftrace_filter. Any function that is added here will not
be traced. If a function exists in both set_ftrace_filter
and set_ftrace_notrace, the function will _not_ be traced.
available_filter_functions : When a function is encountered the first
time by the dynamic tracer, it is recorded and
later the call is converted into a nop. This file
lists the functions that have been recorded
by the dynamic tracer and these functions can
be used to set the ftrace filter by the above
"set_ftrace_filter" file. (See the section "dynamic ftrace"
below for more details).
The Tracers
Here is the list of current tracers that may be configured.
ftrace - function tracer that uses mcount to trace all functions.
sched_switch - traces the context switches between tasks.
irqsoff - traces the areas that disable interrupts and saves
the trace with the longest max latency.
See tracing_max_latency. When a new max is recorded,
it replaces the old trace. It is best to view this
trace via the latency_trace file.
preemptoff - Similar to irqsoff but traces and records the amount of
time for which preemption is disabled.
preemptirqsoff - Similar to irqsoff and preemptoff, but traces and
records the largest time for which irqs and/or preemption
is disabled.
wakeup - Traces and records the max latency that it takes for
the highest priority task to get scheduled after
it has been woken up.
none - This is not a tracer. To remove all tracers from tracing
simply echo "none" into current_tracer.
Examples of using the tracer
Here are typical examples of using the tracers when controlling them only
with the debugfs interface (without using any user-land utilities).
Output format:
Here is an example of the output format of the file "trace"
# tracer: ftrace
# | | | | |
bash-4251 [01] 10152.583854: path_put <-path_walk
bash-4251 [01] 10152.583855: dput <-path_put
bash-4251 [01] 10152.583855: _atomic_dec_and_lock <-dput
A header is printed with the tracer name that is represented by the trace.
In this case the tracer is "ftrace". Then a header showing the format. Task
name "bash", the task PID "4251", the CPU that it was running on
"01", the timestamp in <secs>.<usecs> format, the function name that was
traced "path_put" and the parent function that called this function
"path_walk". The timestamp is the time at which the function was
The sched_switch tracer also includes tracing of task wakeups and
context switches.
ksoftirqd/1-7 [01] 1453.070013: 7:115:R + 2916:115:S
ksoftirqd/1-7 [01] 1453.070013: 7:115:R + 10:115:S
ksoftirqd/1-7 [01] 1453.070013: 7:115:R ==> 10:115:R
events/1-10 [01] 1453.070013: 10:115:S ==> 2916:115:R
kondemand/1-2916 [01] 1453.070013: 2916:115:S ==> 7:115:R
ksoftirqd/1-7 [01] 1453.070013: 7:115:S ==> 0:140:R
Wake ups are represented by a "+" and the context switches are shown as
"==>". The format is:
Context switches:
Previous task Next Task
<pid>:<prio>:<state> ==> <pid>:<prio>:<state>
Wake ups:
Current task Task waking up
<pid>:<prio>:<state> + <pid>:<prio>:<state>
The prio is the internal kernel priority, which is the inverse of the
priority that is usually displayed by user-space tools. Zero represents
the highest priority (99). Prio 100 starts the "nice" priorities with
100 being equal to nice -20 and 139 being nice 19. The prio "140" is
reserved for the idle task which is the lowest priority thread (pid 0).
Latency trace format
For traces that display latency times, the latency_trace file gives
somewhat more information to see why a latency happened. Here is a typical
# tracer: irqsoff
irqsoff latency trace v1.1.5 on 2.6.26-rc8
latency: 97 us, #3/3, CPU#0 | (M:preempt VP:0, KP:0, SP:0 HP:0 #P:2)
| task: swapper-0 (uid:0 nice:0 policy:0 rt_prio:0)
=> started at: apic_timer_interrupt
=> ended at: do_softirq
# _------=> CPU#
# / _-----=> irqs-off
# | / _----=> need-resched
# || / _---=> hardirq/softirq
# ||| / _--=> preempt-depth
# |||| /
# ||||| delay
# cmd pid ||||| time | caller
# \ / ||||| \ | /
<idle>-0 0d..1 0us+: trace_hardirqs_off_thunk (apic_timer_interrupt)
<idle>-0 0d.s. 97us : __do_softirq (do_softirq)
<idle>-0 0d.s1 98us : trace_hardirqs_on (do_softirq)
This shows that the current tracer is "irqsoff" tracing the time for which
interrupts were disabled. It gives the trace version and the version
of the kernel upon which this was executed on (2.6.26-rc8). Then it displays
the max latency in microsecs (97 us). The number of trace entries displayed
and the total number recorded (both are three: #3/3). The type of
preemption that was used (PREEMPT). VP, KP, SP, and HP are always zero
and are reserved for later use. #P is the number of online CPUS (#P:2).
The task is the process that was running when the latency occurred.
(swapper pid: 0).
The start and stop (the functions in which the interrupts were disabled and
enabled respectively) that caused the latencies:
apic_timer_interrupt is where the interrupts were disabled.
do_softirq is where they were enabled again.
The next lines after the header are the trace itself. The header
explains which is which.
cmd: The name of the process in the trace.
pid: The PID of that process.
CPU#: The CPU which the process was running on.
irqs-off: 'd' interrupts are disabled. '.' otherwise.
need-resched: 'N' task need_resched is set, '.' otherwise.
'H' - hard irq occurred inside a softirq.
'h' - hard irq is running
's' - soft irq is running
'.' - normal context.
preempt-depth: The level of preempt_disabled
The above is mostly meaningful for kernel developers.
time: This differs from the trace file output. The trace file output
includes an absolute timestamp. The timestamp used by the
latency_trace file is relative to the start of the trace.
delay: This is just to help catch your eye a bit better. And
needs to be fixed to be only relative to the same CPU.
The marks are determined by the difference between this
current trace and the next trace.
'!' - greater than preempt_mark_thresh (default 100)
'+' - greater than 1 microsecond
' ' - less than or equal to 1 microsecond.
The rest is the same as the 'trace' file.
The iter_ctrl file is used to control what gets printed in the trace
output. To see what is available, simply cat the file:
cat /debug/tracing/iter_ctrl
print-parent nosym-offset nosym-addr noverbose noraw nohex nobin \
noblock nostacktrace nosched-tree
To disable one of the options, echo in the option prepended with "no".
echo noprint-parent > /debug/tracing/iter_ctrl
To enable an option, leave off the "no".
echo sym-offset > /debug/tracing/iter_ctrl
Here are the available options:
print-parent - On function traces, display the calling function
as well as the function being traced.
bash-4000 [01] 1477.606694: simple_strtoul <-strict_strtoul
bash-4000 [01] 1477.606694: simple_strtoul
sym-offset - Display not only the function name, but also the offset
in the function. For example, instead of seeing just
"ktime_get", you will see "ktime_get+0xb/0x20".
bash-4000 [01] 1477.606694: simple_strtoul+0x6/0xa0
sym-addr - this will also display the function address as well as
the function name.
bash-4000 [01] 1477.606694: simple_strtoul <c0339346>
verbose - This deals with the latency_trace file.
bash 4000 1 0 00000000 00010a95 [58127d26] 1720.415ms \
(+0.000ms): simple_strtoul (strict_strtoul)
raw - This will display raw numbers. This option is best for use with
user applications that can translate the raw numbers better than
having it done in the kernel.
hex - Similar to raw, but the numbers will be in a hexadecimal format.
bin - This will print out the formats in raw binary.
block - TBD (needs update)
stacktrace - This is one of the options that changes the trace itself.
When a trace is recorded, so is the stack of functions.
This allows for back traces of trace sites.
sched-tree - TBD (any users??)
This tracer simply records schedule switches. Here is an example
of how to use it.
# echo sched_switch > /debug/tracing/current_tracer
# echo 1 > /debug/tracing/tracing_enabled
# sleep 1
# echo 0 > /debug/tracing/tracing_enabled
# cat /debug/tracing/trace
# tracer: sched_switch
# | | | | |
bash-3997 [01] 240.132281: 3997:120:R + 4055:120:R
bash-3997 [01] 240.132284: 3997:120:R ==> 4055:120:R
sleep-4055 [01] 240.132371: 4055:120:S ==> 3997:120:R
bash-3997 [01] 240.132454: 3997:120:R + 4055:120:S
bash-3997 [01] 240.132457: 3997:120:R ==> 4055:120:R
sleep-4055 [01] 240.132460: 4055:120:D ==> 3997:120:R
bash-3997 [01] 240.132463: 3997:120:R + 4055:120:D
bash-3997 [01] 240.132465: 3997:120:R ==> 4055:120:R
<idle>-0 [00] 240.132589: 0:140:R + 4:115:S
<idle>-0 [00] 240.132591: 0:140:R ==> 4:115:R
ksoftirqd/0-4 [00] 240.132595: 4:115:S ==> 0:140:R
<idle>-0 [00] 240.132598: 0:140:R + 4:115:S
<idle>-0 [00] 240.132599: 0:140:R ==> 4:115:R
ksoftirqd/0-4 [00] 240.132603: 4:115:S ==> 0:140:R
sleep-4055 [01] 240.133058: 4055:120:S ==> 3997:120:R
As we have discussed previously about this format, the header shows
the name of the trace and points to the options. The "FUNCTION"
is a misnomer since here it represents the wake ups and context
The sched_switch file only lists the wake ups (represented with '+')
and context switches ('==>') with the previous task or current task
first followed by the next task or task waking up. The format for both
of these is PID:KERNEL-PRIO:TASK-STATE. Remember that the KERNEL-PRIO
is the inverse of the actual priority with zero (0) being the highest
priority and the nice values starting at 100 (nice -20). Below is
a quick chart to map the kernel priority to user land priorities.
Kernel priority: 0 to 99 ==> user RT priority 99 to 0
Kernel priority: 100 to 139 ==> user nice -20 to 19
Kernel priority: 140 ==> idle task priority
The task states are:
R - running : wants to run, may not actually be running
S - sleep : process is waiting to be woken up (handles signals)
D - disk sleep (uninterruptible sleep) : process must be woken up
(ignores signals)
T - stopped : process suspended
t - traced : process is being traced (with something like gdb)
Z - zombie : process waiting to be cleaned up
X - unknown
The following tracers (listed below) give different output depending
on whether or not the sysctl ftrace_enabled is set. To set ftrace_enabled,
one can either use the sysctl function or set it via the proc
file system interface.
sysctl kernel.ftrace_enabled=1
echo 1 > /proc/sys/kernel/ftrace_enabled
To disable ftrace_enabled simply replace the '1' with '0' in
the above commands.
When ftrace_enabled is set the tracers will also record the functions
that are within the trace. The descriptions of the tracers
will also show an example with ftrace enabled.
When interrupts are disabled, the CPU can not react to any other
external event (besides NMIs and SMIs). This prevents the timer
interrupt from triggering or the mouse interrupt from letting the
kernel know of a new mouse event. The result is a latency with the
reaction time.
The irqsoff tracer tracks the time for which interrupts are disabled.
When a new maximum latency is hit, the tracer saves the trace leading up
to that latency point so that every time a new maximum is reached, the old
saved trace is discarded and the new trace is saved.
To reset the maximum, echo 0 into tracing_max_latency. Here is an
# echo irqsoff > /debug/tracing/current_tracer
# echo 0 > /debug/tracing/tracing_max_latency
# echo 1 > /debug/tracing/tracing_enabled
# ls -ltr
# echo 0 > /debug/tracing/tracing_enabled
# cat /debug/tracing/latency_trace
# tracer: irqsoff
irqsoff latency trace v1.1.5 on 2.6.26
latency: 12 us, #3/3, CPU#1 | (M:preempt VP:0, KP:0, SP:0 HP:0 #P:2)
| task: bash-3730 (uid:0 nice:0 policy:0 rt_prio:0)
=> started at: sys_setpgid
=> ended at: sys_setpgid
# _------=> CPU#
# / _-----=> irqs-off
# | / _----=> need-resched
# || / _---=> hardirq/softirq
# ||| / _--=> preempt-depth
# |||| /
# ||||| delay
# cmd pid ||||| time | caller
# \ / ||||| \ | /
bash-3730 1d... 0us : _write_lock_irq (sys_setpgid)
bash-3730 1d..1 1us+: _write_unlock_irq (sys_setpgid)
bash-3730 1d..2 14us : trace_hardirqs_on (sys_setpgid)
Here we see that that we had a latency of 12 microsecs (which is
very good). The _write_lock_irq in sys_setpgid disabled interrupts.
The difference between the 12 and the displayed timestamp 14us occurred
because the clock was incremented between the time of recording the max
latency and the time of recording the function that had that latency.
Note the above example had ftrace_enabled not set. If we set the
ftrace_enabled, we get a much larger output:
# tracer: irqsoff
irqsoff latency trace v1.1.5 on 2.6.26-rc8
latency: 50 us, #101/101, CPU#0 | (M:preempt VP:0, KP:0, SP:0 HP:0 #P:2)
| task: ls-4339 (uid:0 nice:0 policy:0 rt_prio:0)
=> started at: __alloc_pages_internal
=> ended at: __alloc_pages_internal
# _------=> CPU#
# / _-----=> irqs-off
# | / _----=> need-resched
# || / _---=> hardirq/softirq
# ||| / _--=> preempt-depth
# |||| /
# ||||| delay
# cmd pid ||||| time | caller
# \ / ||||| \ | /
ls-4339 0...1 0us+: get_page_from_freelist (__alloc_pages_internal)
ls-4339 0d..1 3us : rmqueue_bulk (get_page_from_freelist)
ls-4339 0d..1 3us : _spin_lock (rmqueue_bulk)
ls-4339 0d..1 4us : add_preempt_count (_spin_lock)
ls-4339 0d..2 4us : __rmqueue (rmqueue_bulk)
ls-4339 0d..2 5us : __rmqueue_smallest (__rmqueue)
ls-4339 0d..2 5us : __mod_zone_page_state (__rmqueue_smallest)
ls-4339 0d..2 6us : __rmqueue (rmqueue_bulk)
ls-4339 0d..2 6us : __rmqueue_smallest (__rmqueue)
ls-4339 0d..2 7us : __mod_zone_page_state (__rmqueue_smallest)
ls-4339 0d..2 7us : __rmqueue (rmqueue_bulk)
ls-4339 0d..2 8us : __rmqueue_smallest (__rmqueue)
ls-4339 0d..2 46us : __rmqueue_smallest (__rmqueue)
ls-4339 0d..2 47us : __mod_zone_page_state (__rmqueue_smallest)
ls-4339 0d..2 47us : __rmqueue (rmqueue_bulk)
ls-4339 0d..2 48us : __rmqueue_smallest (__rmqueue)
ls-4339 0d..2 48us : __mod_zone_page_state (__rmqueue_smallest)
ls-4339 0d..2 49us : _spin_unlock (rmqueue_bulk)
ls-4339 0d..2 49us : sub_preempt_count (_spin_unlock)
ls-4339 0d..1 50us : get_page_from_freelist (__alloc_pages_internal)
ls-4339 0d..2 51us : trace_hardirqs_on (__alloc_pages_internal)
Here we traced a 50 microsecond latency. But we also see all the
functions that were called during that time. Note that by enabling
function tracing, we incur an added overhead. This overhead may
extend the latency times. But nevertheless, this trace has provided
some very helpful debugging information.
When preemption is disabled, we may be able to receive interrupts but
the task cannot be preempted and a higher priority task must wait
for preemption to be enabled again before it can preempt a lower
priority task.
The preemptoff tracer traces the places that disable preemption.
Like the irqsoff tracer, it records the maximum latency for which preemption
was disabled. The control of preemptoff tracer is much like the irqsoff
# echo preemptoff > /debug/tracing/current_tracer
# echo 0 > /debug/tracing/tracing_max_latency
# echo 1 > /debug/tracing/tracing_enabled
# ls -ltr
# echo 0 > /debug/tracing/tracing_enabled
# cat /debug/tracing/latency_trace
# tracer: preemptoff
preemptoff latency trace v1.1.5 on 2.6.26-rc8
latency: 29 us, #3/3, CPU#0 | (M:preempt VP:0, KP:0, SP:0 HP:0 #P:2)
| task: sshd-4261 (uid:0 nice:0 policy:0 rt_prio:0)
=> started at: do_IRQ
=> ended at: __do_softirq
# _------=> CPU#
# / _-----=> irqs-off
# | / _----=> need-resched
# || / _---=> hardirq/softirq
# ||| / _--=> preempt-depth
# |||| /
# ||||| delay
# cmd pid ||||| time | caller
# \ / ||||| \ | /
sshd-4261 0d.h. 0us+: irq_enter (do_IRQ)
sshd-4261 0d.s. 29us : _local_bh_enable (__do_softirq)
sshd-4261 0d.s1 30us : trace_preempt_on (__do_softirq)
This has some more changes. Preemption was disabled when an interrupt
came in (notice the 'h'), and was enabled while doing a softirq.
(notice the 's'). But we also see that interrupts have been disabled
when entering the preempt off section and leaving it (the 'd').
We do not know if interrupts were enabled in the mean time.
# tracer: preemptoff
preemptoff latency trace v1.1.5 on 2.6.26-rc8
latency: 63 us, #87/87, CPU#0 | (M:preempt VP:0, KP:0, SP:0 HP:0 #P:2)
| task: sshd-4261 (uid:0 nice:0 policy:0 rt_prio:0)
=> started at: remove_wait_queue
=> ended at: __do_softirq
# _------=> CPU#
# / _-----=> irqs-off
# | / _----=> need-resched
# || / _---=> hardirq/softirq
# ||| / _--=> preempt-depth
# |||| /
# ||||| delay
# cmd pid ||||| time | caller
# \ / ||||| \ | /
sshd-4261 0d..1 0us : _spin_lock_irqsave (remove_wait_queue)
sshd-4261 0d..1 1us : _spin_unlock_irqrestore (remove_wait_queue)
sshd-4261 0d..1 2us : do_IRQ (common_interrupt)
sshd-4261 0d..1 2us : irq_enter (do_IRQ)
sshd-4261 0d..1 2us : idle_cpu (irq_enter)
sshd-4261 0d..1 3us : add_preempt_count (irq_enter)
sshd-4261 0d.h1 3us : idle_cpu (irq_enter)
sshd-4261 0d.h. 4us : handle_fasteoi_irq (do_IRQ)
sshd-4261 0d.h. 12us : add_preempt_count (_spin_lock)
sshd-4261 0d.h1 12us : ack_ioapic_quirk_irq (handle_fasteoi_irq)
sshd-4261 0d.h1 13us : move_native_irq (ack_ioapic_quirk_irq)
sshd-4261 0d.h1 13us : _spin_unlock (handle_fasteoi_irq)
sshd-4261 0d.h1 14us : sub_preempt_count (_spin_unlock)
sshd-4261 0d.h1 14us : irq_exit (do_IRQ)
sshd-4261 0d.h1 15us : sub_preempt_count (irq_exit)
sshd-4261 0d..2 15us : do_softirq (irq_exit)
sshd-4261 0d... 15us : __do_softirq (do_softirq)
sshd-4261 0d... 16us : __local_bh_disable (__do_softirq)
sshd-4261 0d... 16us+: add_preempt_count (__local_bh_disable)
sshd-4261 0d.s4 20us : add_preempt_count (__local_bh_disable)
sshd-4261 0d.s4 21us : sub_preempt_count (local_bh_enable)
sshd-4261 0d.s5 21us : sub_preempt_count (local_bh_enable)
sshd-4261 0d.s6 41us : add_preempt_count (__local_bh_disable)
sshd-4261 0d.s6 42us : sub_preempt_count (local_bh_enable)
sshd-4261 0d.s7 42us : sub_preempt_count (local_bh_enable)
sshd-4261 0d.s5 43us : add_preempt_count (__local_bh_disable)
sshd-4261 0d.s5 43us : sub_preempt_count (local_bh_enable_ip)
sshd-4261 0d.s6 44us : sub_preempt_count (local_bh_enable_ip)
sshd-4261 0d.s5 44us : add_preempt_count (__local_bh_disable)
sshd-4261 0d.s5 45us : sub_preempt_count (local_bh_enable)
sshd-4261 0d.s. 63us : _local_bh_enable (__do_softirq)
sshd-4261 0d.s1 64us : trace_preempt_on (__do_softirq)
The above is an example of the preemptoff trace with ftrace_enabled
set. Here we see that interrupts were disabled the entire time.
The irq_enter code lets us know that we entered an interrupt 'h'.
Before that, the functions being traced still show that it is not
in an interrupt, but we can see from the functions themselves that
this is not the case.
Notice that __do_softirq when called does not have a preempt_count.
It may seem that we missed a preempt enabling. What really happened
is that the preempt count is held on the thread's stack and we
switched to the softirq stack (4K stacks in effect). The code
does not copy the preempt count, but because interrupts are disabled,
we do not need to worry about it. Having a tracer like this is good
for letting people know what really happens inside the kernel.
Knowing the locations that have interrupts disabled or preemption
disabled for the longest times is helpful. But sometimes we would
like to know when either preemption and/or interrupts are disabled.
Consider the following code:
The irqsoff tracer will record the total length of
call_function_with_irqs_off() and
The preemptoff tracer will record the total length of
call_function_with_irqs_and_preemption_off() and
But neither will trace the time that interrupts and/or preemption
is disabled. This total time is the time that we can not schedule.
To record this time, use the preemptirqsoff tracer.
Again, using this trace is much like the irqsoff and preemptoff tracers.
# echo preemptirqsoff > /debug/tracing/current_tracer
# echo 0 > /debug/tracing/tracing_max_latency
# echo 1 > /debug/tracing/tracing_enabled
# ls -ltr
# echo 0 > /debug/tracing/tracing_enabled
# cat /debug/tracing/latency_trace
# tracer: preemptirqsoff
preemptirqsoff latency trace v1.1.5 on 2.6.26-rc8
latency: 293 us, #3/3, CPU#0 | (M:preempt VP:0, KP:0, SP:0 HP:0 #P:2)
| task: ls-4860 (uid:0 nice:0 policy:0 rt_prio:0)
=> started at: apic_timer_interrupt
=> ended at: __do_softirq
# _------=> CPU#
# / _-----=> irqs-off
# | / _----=> need-resched
# || / _---=> hardirq/softirq
# ||| / _--=> preempt-depth
# |||| /
# ||||| delay
# cmd pid ||||| time | caller
# \ / ||||| \ | /
ls-4860 0d... 0us!: trace_hardirqs_off_thunk (apic_timer_interrupt)
ls-4860 0d.s. 294us : _local_bh_enable (__do_softirq)
ls-4860 0d.s1 294us : trace_preempt_on (__do_softirq)
The trace_hardirqs_off_thunk is called from assembly on x86 when
interrupts are disabled in the assembly code. Without the function
tracing, we do not know if interrupts were enabled within the preemption
points. We do see that it started with preemption enabled.
Here is a trace with ftrace_enabled set:
# tracer: preemptirqsoff
preemptirqsoff latency trace v1.1.5 on 2.6.26-rc8
latency: 105 us, #183/183, CPU#0 | (M:preempt VP:0, KP:0, SP:0 HP:0 #P:2)
| task: sshd-4261 (uid:0 nice:0 policy:0 rt_prio:0)
=> started at: write_chan
=> ended at: __do_softirq
# _------=> CPU#
# / _-----=> irqs-off
# | / _----=> need-resched
# || / _---=> hardirq/softirq
# ||| / _--=> preempt-depth
# |||| /
# ||||| delay
# cmd pid ||||| time | caller
# \ / ||||| \ | /
ls-4473 0.N.. 0us : preempt_schedule (write_chan)
ls-4473 0dN.1 1us : _spin_lock (schedule)
ls-4473 0dN.1 2us : add_preempt_count (_spin_lock)
ls-4473 0d..2 2us : put_prev_task_fair (schedule)
ls-4473 0d..2 13us : set_normalized_timespec (ktime_get_ts)
ls-4473 0d..2 13us : __switch_to (schedule)
sshd-4261 0d..2 14us : finish_task_switch (schedule)
sshd-4261 0d..2 14us : _spin_unlock_irq (finish_task_switch)
sshd-4261 0d..1 15us : add_preempt_count (_spin_lock_irqsave)
sshd-4261 0d..2 16us : _spin_unlock_irqrestore (hrtick_set)
sshd-4261 0d..2 16us : do_IRQ (common_interrupt)
sshd-4261 0d..2 17us : irq_enter (do_IRQ)
sshd-4261 0d..2 17us : idle_cpu (irq_enter)
sshd-4261 0d..2 18us : add_preempt_count (irq_enter)
sshd-4261 0d.h2 18us : idle_cpu (irq_enter)
sshd-4261 0d.h. 18us : handle_fasteoi_irq (do_IRQ)
sshd-4261 0d.h. 19us : _spin_lock (handle_fasteoi_irq)
sshd-4261 0d.h. 19us : add_preempt_count (_spin_lock)
sshd-4261 0d.h1 20us : _spin_unlock (handle_fasteoi_irq)
sshd-4261 0d.h1 20us : sub_preempt_count (_spin_unlock)
sshd-4261 0d.h1 28us : _spin_unlock (handle_fasteoi_irq)
sshd-4261 0d.h1 29us : sub_preempt_count (_spin_unlock)
sshd-4261 0d.h2 29us : irq_exit (do_IRQ)
sshd-4261 0d.h2 29us : sub_preempt_count (irq_exit)
sshd-4261 0d..3 30us : do_softirq (irq_exit)
sshd-4261 0d... 30us : __do_softirq (do_softirq)
sshd-4261 0d... 31us : __local_bh_disable (__do_softirq)
sshd-4261 0d... 31us+: add_preempt_count (__local_bh_disable)
sshd-4261 0d.s4 34us : add_preempt_count (__local_bh_disable)
sshd-4261 0d.s3 43us : sub_preempt_count (local_bh_enable_ip)
sshd-4261 0d.s4 44us : sub_preempt_count (local_bh_enable_ip)
sshd-4261 0d.s3 44us : smp_apic_timer_interrupt (apic_timer_interrupt)
sshd-4261 0d.s3 45us : irq_enter (smp_apic_timer_interrupt)
sshd-4261 0d.s3 45us : idle_cpu (irq_enter)
sshd-4261 0d.s3 46us : add_preempt_count (irq_enter)
sshd-4261 0d.H3 46us : idle_cpu (irq_enter)
sshd-4261 0d.H3 47us : hrtimer_interrupt (smp_apic_timer_interrupt)
sshd-4261 0d.H3 47us : ktime_get (hrtimer_interrupt)
sshd-4261 0d.H3 81us : tick_program_event (hrtimer_interrupt)
sshd-4261 0d.H3 82us : ktime_get (tick_program_event)
sshd-4261 0d.H3 82us : ktime_get_ts (ktime_get)
sshd-4261 0d.H3 83us : getnstimeofday (ktime_get_ts)
sshd-4261 0d.H3 83us : set_normalized_timespec (ktime_get_ts)
sshd-4261 0d.H3 84us : clockevents_program_event (tick_program_event)
sshd-4261 0d.H3 84us : lapic_next_event (clockevents_program_event)
sshd-4261 0d.H3 85us : irq_exit (smp_apic_timer_interrupt)
sshd-4261 0d.H3 85us : sub_preempt_count (irq_exit)
sshd-4261 0d.s4 86us : sub_preempt_count (irq_exit)
sshd-4261 0d.s3 86us : add_preempt_count (__local_bh_disable)
sshd-4261 0d.s1 98us : sub_preempt_count (net_rx_action)
sshd-4261 0d.s. 99us : add_preempt_count (_spin_lock_irq)
sshd-4261 0d.s1 99us+: _spin_unlock_irq (run_timer_softirq)
sshd-4261 0d.s. 104us : _local_bh_enable (__do_softirq)
sshd-4261 0d.s. 104us : sub_preempt_count (_local_bh_enable)
sshd-4261 0d.s. 105us : _local_bh_enable (__do_softirq)
sshd-4261 0d.s1 105us : trace_preempt_on (__do_softirq)
This is a very interesting trace. It started with the preemption of
the ls task. We see that the task had the "need_resched" bit set
via the 'N' in the trace. Interrupts were disabled before the spin_lock
at the beginning of the trace. We see that a schedule took place to run
sshd. When the interrupts were enabled, we took an interrupt.
On return from the interrupt handler, the softirq ran. We took another
interrupt while running the softirq as we see from the capital 'H'.
In a Real-Time environment it is very important to know the wakeup
time it takes for the highest priority task that is woken up to the
time that it executes. This is also known as "schedule latency".
I stress the point that this is about RT tasks. It is also important
to know the scheduling latency of non-RT tasks, but the average
schedule latency is better for non-RT tasks. Tools like
LatencyTop are more appropriate for such measurements.
Real-Time environments are interested in the worst case latency.
That is the longest latency it takes for something to happen, and
not the average. We can have a very fast scheduler that may only
have a large latency once in a while, but that would not work well
with Real-Time tasks. The wakeup tracer was designed to record
the worst case wakeups of RT tasks. Non-RT tasks are not recorded
because the tracer only records one worst case and tracing non-RT
tasks that are unpredictable will overwrite the worst case latency
of RT tasks.
Since this tracer only deals with RT tasks, we will run this slightly
differently than we did with the previous tracers. Instead of performing
an 'ls', we will run 'sleep 1' under 'chrt' which changes the
priority of the task.
# echo wakeup > /debug/tracing/current_tracer
# echo 0 > /debug/tracing/tracing_max_latency
# echo 1 > /debug/tracing/tracing_enabled
# chrt -f 5 sleep 1
# echo 0 > /debug/tracing/tracing_enabled
# cat /debug/tracing/latency_trace
# tracer: wakeup
wakeup latency trace v1.1.5 on 2.6.26-rc8
latency: 4 us, #2/2, CPU#1 | (M:preempt VP:0, KP:0, SP:0 HP:0 #P:2)
| task: sleep-4901 (uid:0 nice:0 policy:1 rt_prio:5)
# _------=> CPU#
# / _-----=> irqs-off
# | / _----=> need-resched
# || / _---=> hardirq/softirq
# ||| / _--=> preempt-depth
# |||| /
# ||||| delay
# cmd pid ||||| time | caller
# \ / ||||| \ | /
<idle>-0 1d.h4 0us+: try_to_wake_up (wake_up_process)
<idle>-0 1d..4 4us : schedule (cpu_idle)
Running this on an idle system, we see that it only took 4 microseconds
to perform the task switch. Note, since the trace marker in the
schedule is before the actual "switch", we stop the tracing when
the recorded task is about to schedule in. This may change if
we add a new marker at the end of the scheduler.
Notice that the recorded task is 'sleep' with the PID of 4901 and it
has an rt_prio of 5. This priority is user-space priority and not
the internal kernel priority. The policy is 1 for SCHED_FIFO and 2
Doing the same with chrt -r 5 and ftrace_enabled set.
# tracer: wakeup
wakeup latency trace v1.1.5 on 2.6.26-rc8
latency: 50 us, #60/60, CPU#1 | (M:preempt VP:0, KP:0, SP:0 HP:0 #P:2)
| task: sleep-4068 (uid:0 nice:0 policy:2 rt_prio:5)
# _------=> CPU#
# / _-----=> irqs-off
# | / _----=> need-resched
# || / _---=> hardirq/softirq
# ||| / _--=> preempt-depth
# |||| /
# ||||| delay
# cmd pid ||||| time | caller
# \ / ||||| \ | /
ksoftirq-7 1d.H3 0us : try_to_wake_up (wake_up_process)
ksoftirq-7 1d.H4 1us : sub_preempt_count (marker_probe_cb)
ksoftirq-7 1d.H3 2us : check_preempt_wakeup (try_to_wake_up)
ksoftirq-7 1d.H3 3us : update_curr (check_preempt_wakeup)
ksoftirq-7 1d.H3 4us : calc_delta_mine (update_curr)
ksoftirq-7 1d.H3 5us : __resched_task (check_preempt_wakeup)
ksoftirq-7 1d.H3 6us : task_wake_up_rt (try_to_wake_up)
ksoftirq-7 1d.H3 7us : _spin_unlock_irqrestore (try_to_wake_up)
ksoftirq-7 1d.H2 17us : irq_exit (smp_apic_timer_interrupt)
ksoftirq-7 1d.H2 18us : sub_preempt_count (irq_exit)
ksoftirq-7 1d.s3 19us : sub_preempt_count (irq_exit)
ksoftirq-7 1..s2 20us : rcu_process_callbacks (__do_softirq)
ksoftirq-7 1..s2 26us : __rcu_process_callbacks (rcu_process_callbacks)
ksoftirq-7 1d.s2 27us : _local_bh_enable (__do_softirq)
ksoftirq-7 1d.s2 28us : sub_preempt_count (_local_bh_enable)
ksoftirq-7 1.N.3 29us : sub_preempt_count (ksoftirqd)
ksoftirq-7 1.N.2 30us : _cond_resched (ksoftirqd)
ksoftirq-7 1.N.2 31us : __cond_resched (_cond_resched)
ksoftirq-7 1.N.2 32us : add_preempt_count (__cond_resched)
ksoftirq-7 1.N.2 33us : schedule (__cond_resched)
ksoftirq-7 1.N.2 33us : add_preempt_count (schedule)
ksoftirq-7 1.N.3 34us : hrtick_clear (schedule)
ksoftirq-7 1dN.3 35us : _spin_lock (schedule)
ksoftirq-7 1dN.3 36us : add_preempt_count (_spin_lock)
ksoftirq-7 1d..4 37us : put_prev_task_fair (schedule)
ksoftirq-7 1d..4 38us : update_curr (put_prev_task_fair)
ksoftirq-7 1d..5 47us : _spin_trylock (tracing_record_cmdline)
ksoftirq-7 1d..5 48us : add_preempt_count (_spin_trylock)
ksoftirq-7 1d..6 49us : _spin_unlock (tracing_record_cmdline)
ksoftirq-7 1d..6 49us : sub_preempt_count (_spin_unlock)
ksoftirq-7 1d..4 50us : schedule (__cond_resched)
The interrupt went off while running ksoftirqd. This task runs at
SCHED_OTHER. Why did not we see the 'N' set early? This may be
a harmless bug with x86_32 and 4K stacks. On x86_32 with 4K stacks
configured, the interrupt and softirq run with their own stack.
Some information is held on the top of the task's stack (need_resched
and preempt_count are both stored there). The setting of the NEED_RESCHED
bit is done directly to the task's stack, but the reading of the
NEED_RESCHED is done by looking at the current stack, which in this case
is the stack for the hard interrupt. This hides the fact that NEED_RESCHED
has been set. We do not see the 'N' until we switch back to the task's
assigned stack.
ftrace is not only the name of the tracing infrastructure, but it
is also a name of one of the tracers. The tracer is the function
tracer. Enabling the function tracer can be done from the
debug file system. Make sure the ftrace_enabled is set otherwise
this tracer is a nop.
# sysctl kernel.ftrace_enabled=1
# echo ftrace > /debug/tracing/current_tracer
# echo 1 > /debug/tracing/tracing_enabled
# usleep 1
# echo 0 > /debug/tracing/tracing_enabled
# cat /debug/tracing/trace
# tracer: ftrace
# | | | | |
bash-4003 [00] 123.638713: finish_task_switch <-schedule
bash-4003 [00] 123.638714: _spin_unlock_irq <-finish_task_switch
bash-4003 [00] 123.638714: sub_preempt_count <-_spin_unlock_irq
bash-4003 [00] 123.638715: hrtick_set <-schedule
bash-4003 [00] 123.638715: _spin_lock_irqsave <-hrtick_set
bash-4003 [00] 123.638716: add_preempt_count <-_spin_lock_irqsave
bash-4003 [00] 123.638716: _spin_unlock_irqrestore <-hrtick_set
bash-4003 [00] 123.638717: sub_preempt_count <-_spin_unlock_irqrestore
bash-4003 [00] 123.638717: hrtick_clear <-hrtick_set
bash-4003 [00] 123.638718: sub_preempt_count <-schedule
bash-4003 [00] 123.638718: sub_preempt_count <-preempt_schedule
bash-4003 [00] 123.638719: wait_for_completion <-__stop_machine_run
bash-4003 [00] 123.638719: wait_for_common <-wait_for_completion
bash-4003 [00] 123.638720: _spin_lock_irq <-wait_for_common
bash-4003 [00] 123.638720: add_preempt_count <-_spin_lock_irq
Note: ftrace uses ring buffers to store the above entries. The newest data
may overwrite the oldest data. Sometimes using echo to stop the trace
is not sufficient because the tracing could have overwritten the data
that you wanted to record. For this reason, it is sometimes better to
disable tracing directly from a program. This allows you to stop the
tracing at the point that you hit the part that you are interested in.
To disable the tracing directly from a C program, something like following
code snippet can be used:
int trace_fd;
int main(int argc, char *argv[]) {
trace_fd = open("/debug/tracing/tracing_enabled", O_WRONLY);
if (condition_hit()) {
write(trace_fd, "0", 1);
Note: Here we hard coded the path name. The debugfs mount is not
guaranteed to be at /debug (and is more commonly at /sys/kernel/debug).
For simple one time traces, the above is sufficent. For anything else,
a search through /proc/mounts may be needed to find where the debugfs
file-system is mounted.
dynamic ftrace
If CONFIG_DYNAMIC_FTRACE is set, the system will run with
virtually no overhead when function tracing is disabled. The way
this works is the mcount function call (placed at the start of
every kernel function, produced by the -pg switch in gcc), starts
of pointing to a simple return. (Enabling FTRACE will include the
-pg switch in the compiling of the kernel.)
When dynamic ftrace is initialized, it calls kstop_machine to make
the machine act like a uniprocessor so that it can freely modify code
without worrying about other processors executing that same code. At
initialization, the mcount calls are changed to call a "record_ip"
function. After this, the first time a kernel function is called,
it has the calling address saved in a hash table.
Later on the ftraced kernel thread is awoken and will again call
kstop_machine if new functions have been recorded. The ftraced thread
will change all calls to mcount to "nop". Just calling mcount
and having mcount return has shown a 10% overhead. By converting
it to a nop, there is no measurable overhead to the system.
One special side-effect to the recording of the functions being
traced is that we can now selectively choose which functions we
wish to trace and which ones we want the mcount calls to remain as
Two files are used, one for enabling and one for disabling the tracing
of specified functions. They are:
A list of available functions that you can add to these files is listed
# cat /debug/tracing/available_filter_functions
If I am only interested in sys_nanosleep and hrtimer_interrupt:
# echo sys_nanosleep hrtimer_interrupt \
> /debug/tracing/set_ftrace_filter
# echo ftrace > /debug/tracing/current_tracer
# echo 1 > /debug/tracing/tracing_enabled
# usleep 1
# echo 0 > /debug/tracing/tracing_enabled
# cat /debug/tracing/trace
# tracer: ftrace
# | | | | |
usleep-4134 [00] 1317.070017: hrtimer_interrupt <-smp_apic_timer_interrupt
usleep-4134 [00] 1317.070111: sys_nanosleep <-syscall_call
<idle>-0 [00] 1317.070115: hrtimer_interrupt <-smp_apic_timer_interrupt
To see which functions are being traced, you can cat the file:
# cat /debug/tracing/set_ftrace_filter
Perhaps this is not enough. The filters also allow simple wild cards.
Only the following are currently available
<match>* - will match functions that begin with <match>
*<match> - will match functions that end with <match>
*<match>* - will match functions that have <match> in it
These are the only wild cards which are supported.
<match>*<match> will not work.
# echo hrtimer_* > /debug/tracing/set_ftrace_filter
# tracer: ftrace
# | | | | |
bash-4003 [00] 1480.611794: hrtimer_init <-copy_process
bash-4003 [00] 1480.611941: hrtimer_start <-hrtick_set
bash-4003 [00] 1480.611956: hrtimer_cancel <-hrtick_clear
bash-4003 [00] 1480.611956: hrtimer_try_to_cancel <-hrtimer_cancel
<idle>-0 [00] 1480.612019: hrtimer_get_next_event <-get_next_timer_interrupt
<idle>-0 [00] 1480.612025: hrtimer_get_next_event <-get_next_timer_interrupt
<idle>-0 [00] 1480.612032: hrtimer_get_next_event <-get_next_timer_interrupt
<idle>-0 [00] 1480.612037: hrtimer_get_next_event <-get_next_timer_interrupt
<idle>-0 [00] 1480.612382: hrtimer_get_next_event <-get_next_timer_interrupt
Notice that we lost the sys_nanosleep.
# cat /debug/tracing/set_ftrace_filter
This is because the '>' and '>>' act just like they do in bash.
To rewrite the filters, use '>'
To append to the filters, use '>>'
To clear out a filter so that all functions will be recorded again:
# echo > /debug/tracing/set_ftrace_filter
# cat /debug/tracing/set_ftrace_filter
Again, now we want to append.
# echo sys_nanosleep > /debug/tracing/set_ftrace_filter
# cat /debug/tracing/set_ftrace_filter
# echo hrtimer_* >> /debug/tracing/set_ftrace_filter
# cat /debug/tracing/set_ftrace_filter
The set_ftrace_notrace prevents those functions from being traced.
# echo '*preempt*' '*lock*' > /debug/tracing/set_ftrace_notrace
# tracer: ftrace
# | | | | |
bash-4043 [01] 115.281644: finish_task_switch <-schedule
bash-4043 [01] 115.281645: hrtick_set <-schedule
bash-4043 [01] 115.281645: hrtick_clear <-hrtick_set
bash-4043 [01] 115.281646: wait_for_completion <-__stop_machine_run
bash-4043 [01] 115.281647: wait_for_common <-wait_for_completion
bash-4043 [01] 115.281647: kthread_stop <-stop_machine_run
bash-4043 [01] 115.281648: init_waitqueue_head <-kthread_stop
bash-4043 [01] 115.281648: wake_up_process <-kthread_stop
bash-4043 [01] 115.281649: try_to_wake_up <-wake_up_process
We can see that there's no more lock or preempt tracing.
As mentioned above, when dynamic ftrace is configured in, a kernel
thread wakes up once a second and checks to see if there are mcount
calls that need to be converted into nops. If there are not any, then
it simply goes back to sleep. But if there are some, it will call
kstop_machine to convert the calls to nops.
There may be a case in which you do not want this added latency.
Perhaps you are doing some audio recording and this activity might
cause skips in the playback. There is an interface to disable
and enable the "ftraced" kernel thread.
# echo 0 > /debug/tracing/ftraced_enabled
This will disable the calling of kstop_machine to update the
mcount calls to nops. Remember that there is a large overhead
to calling mcount. Without this kernel thread, that overhead will
If there are recorded calls to mcount, any write to the ftraced_enabled
file will cause the kstop_machine to run. This means that a
user can manually perform the updates when they want to by simply
echoing a '0' into the ftraced_enabled file.
The updates are also done at the beginning of enabling a tracer
that uses ftrace function recording.
The trace_pipe outputs the same content as the trace file, but the effect
on the tracing is different. Every read from trace_pipe is consumed.
This means that subsequent reads will be different. The trace
is live.
# echo ftrace > /debug/tracing/current_tracer
# cat /debug/tracing/trace_pipe > /tmp/trace.out &
[1] 4153
# echo 1 > /debug/tracing/tracing_enabled
# usleep 1
# echo 0 > /debug/tracing/tracing_enabled
# cat /debug/tracing/trace
# tracer: ftrace
# | | | | |
# cat /tmp/trace.out
bash-4043 [00] 41.267106: finish_task_switch <-schedule
bash-4043 [00] 41.267106: hrtick_set <-schedule
bash-4043 [00] 41.267107: hrtick_clear <-hrtick_set
bash-4043 [00] 41.267108: wait_for_completion <-__stop_machine_run
bash-4043 [00] 41.267108: wait_for_common <-wait_for_completion
bash-4043 [00] 41.267109: kthread_stop <-stop_machine_run
bash-4043 [00] 41.267109: init_waitqueue_head <-kthread_stop
bash-4043 [00] 41.267110: wake_up_process <-kthread_stop
bash-4043 [00] 41.267110: try_to_wake_up <-wake_up_process
bash-4043 [00] 41.267111: select_task_rq_rt <-try_to_wake_up
Note, reading the trace_pipe file will block until more input is added.
By changing the tracer, trace_pipe will issue an EOF. We needed
to set the ftrace tracer _before_ cating the trace_pipe file.
trace entries
Having too much or not enough data can be troublesome in diagnosing
an issue in the kernel. The file trace_entries is used to modify
the size of the internal trace buffers. The number listed
is the number of entries that can be recorded per CPU. To know
the full size, multiply the number of possible CPUS with the
number of entries.
# cat /debug/tracing/trace_entries
Note, to modify this, you must have tracing completely disabled. To do that,
echo "none" into the current_tracer. If the current_tracer is not set
to "none", an EINVAL error will be returned.
# echo none > /debug/tracing/current_tracer
# echo 100000 > /debug/tracing/trace_entries
# cat /debug/tracing/trace_entries
Notice that we echoed in 100,000 but the size is 100,045. The entries
are held in individual pages. It allocates the number of pages it takes
to fulfill the request. If more entries may fit on the last page
then they will be added.
# echo 1 > /debug/tracing/trace_entries
# cat /debug/tracing/trace_entries
This shows us that 85 entries can fit in a single page.
The number of pages which will be allocated is limited to a percentage
of available memory. Allocating too much will produce an error.
# echo 1000000000000 > /debug/tracing/trace_entries
-bash: echo: write error: Cannot allocate memory
# cat /debug/tracing/trace_entries