DTrace on Fedora

August 14, 2019 | 5 minute read
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This Blog entry was provided by Eugene Loh


Oracle has been working in recent years on porting DTrace, the dynamic tracing tool, to Linux. DTrace offers easy-to-use, powerful, safe, and unintrusive tracing. Oracle's initial focus was the Oracle Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK), but DTrace runs on upstream Linux kernels and other distributions' Linux kernels as well. Note that at the moment, Oracle is in the process of upstreaming DTrace-related work and reimplementing DTrace itself on top of existing kernel infrastructure such as eBPF. (More on this in future blogs.)

Here, we illustrate how to build DTrace on Fedora on x86. While you can cut and paste commands from this blog into your command-line window, these steps are also available on GitHub as a script, which may be much easier to run. Keep in mind that this script is intended as a tutorial rather than a robust, turn-key utility. Read and understand the steps as you execute them. The steps are similar to what one does to build DTrace on other Linux distributions.

Useful references on building a custom Fedora kernel include:

Roughly speaking, you should have about 20 GByte of disk space available and expect to wait a few hours for the build to complete.

The overall process is:

  1. download and build the CTF library for DTrace to use
  2. download Fedora kernel source code
  3. prepare DTrace patches to apply
  4. prepare the kernel source code
    1. Linux base code
    2. apply Linux patches (if any)
    3. apply Fedora patches
    4. apply DTrace patches
    5. prepare makefile and config
  5. build the kernel
  6. reboot
  7. download and build the DTrace userspace utility

In the script, we pick a Fedora release, the DTrace branch to use (determined by the Linux version on which the Fedora release is based), and the number of DTrace patches on that branch:

# pick one
# DTrace patches change relatively infrequently.
# So DTrace_branch might not have to match your Fedora kernel version exactly.
#fedora_release=f29; DTrace_branch=5.2.7 ; num_DTrace_patches=19
 fedora_release=f30; DTrace_branch=5.2.7 ; num_DTrace_patches=19

Step 1: download and build the CTF library for DTrace to use

The Compact Type Format originated on Solaris. It is used by DTrace, and this is the Linux port.

sudo dnf install -y git
git clone https://github.com/oracle/libdtrace-ctf.git
cd libdtrace-ctf
sudo dnf builddep -y libdtrace-ctf.spec # install dependencies
sudo make install
cd ..

Step 2: download Fedora kernel source code

The kernel repository has the "secret sauce" that turns upstream Linux into Fedora. There is a .spec file (listing patches, dependencies, and so on) as well as patches and .config files. It also points at one tarball that provides the base Linux code and another with patches to bring Linux up to rev.

sudo dnf install -y fedora-packager
fedpkg co -a kernel                     # anonymous clone of Fedora patches
cd kernel
git checkout origin/$fedora_release
fedpkg sources                          # download tarballs of kernel sources
sudo dnf builddep -y kernel.spec        # install dependencies
cd ..

Step 3: prepare DTrace patches to apply

Now we download DTrace kernel code. This is a repository that applies DTrace patches to an upstream Linux version. We checkout the branch that corresponds to the Linux version on which the chosen Fedora release was based.

git clone https://github.com/oracle/dtrace-linux-kernel.git
cd dtrace-linux-kernel/
git checkout origin/$DTrace_branch

The DTrace patches will be the most recent commits. Make sure you use all of them but nothing before that. Make sure the top patches are DTrace and the next one after them is the Linux baseline you want. E.g., the top commits here are DTrace, and the last one is Linux upstream.

git log -n $(($num_DTrace_patches + 1)) --oneline
66f76fef08e3 dtrace: modular components and x86 support
25f11bb97fb9 dtrace: core and x86
3c5af76fa5fb waitfd: new syscall implementing waitpid() over fds
e95e4350d02b kallsyms: introduce new /proc/kallmodsyms including builtin modules too
86e43efc644c ctf: generate CTF information for the kernel
a3b22b9f11d9 (tag: v5.0-rc7) Linux 5.0-rc7

Generate the DTrace patches:

git format-patch -$num_DTrace_patches
cd ..

Step 4: prepare the kernel source code

Step 4a: Linux base code

First we untar the Linux base code. Earlier, fedpkg sources downloaded either a *.xz or *.gz file:

if [ -e kernel/linux-*.xz ]; then
    /usr/bin/xz -dc kernel/linux-*.tar.xz | /usr/bin/tar -xof -
    tar xzf kernel/linux-*.tar.gz

Next, we turn this untarred directory into a git repo so patches can be applied.

cd linux-*
git init
git config user.email "kernel-team@fedoraproject.org"
git config user.name "Fedora Kernel Team"
git config gc.auto 0
git add .
git commit -a -q -m "baseline"

Step 4b: apply Linux patches (if any)

if [ -e ../kernel/patch-*.xz ]; then
    xzcat ../kernel/patch-*.xz | patch -p1 -F1 -s
    git commit -a -m "Stable update"

Step 4c: apply Fedora patches

for x in `awk '/^Patch/ {print $2}' ../kernel/kernel.spec`; do
    git am ../kernel/$x

Step 4d: apply DTrace patches

for x in ../dtrace-linux-kernel/00*.patch; do
    git am $x
    if [ $? -ne 0 ]; then
        echo DTrace patch did not apply cleanly
        exit 1

Step 4e: prepare makefile and config

We modify the version tag in the Makefile:

sed -i.old \
  's/^EXTRAVERSION =.*$/EXTRAVERSION = -200.DTrace_'$fedora_release'.x86_64/' \

We use the Fedora config file, though we modify it for DTrace. Specifically, we use CONFIG_UNWINDER_FRAME_POINTER instead of CONFIG_UNWINDER_ORC and add various DTrace options. You can use make listnewconfig before modifying the file to check which DTrace options must be defined and then after to make sure they were all set.

cp ../kernel/kernel-x86_64.config .config
sed -i \
  -e 's/CONFIG_UNWINDER_ORC=y/# CONFIG_UNWINDER_ORC is not set/' .config
echo "CONFIG_DTRACE=y"                    >> .config
echo "CONFIG_DT_CORE=m"                   >> .config
echo "CONFIG_DT_FASTTRAP=m"               >> .config
echo "CONFIG_DT_PROFILE=m"                >> .config
echo "CONFIG_DT_SDT=m"                    >> .config
echo "CONFIG_DT_SDT_PERF=y"               >> .config
echo "CONFIG_DT_FBT=m"                    >> .config
echo "CONFIG_DT_SYSTRACE=m"               >> .config
echo "CONFIG_DT_DT_TEST=m"                >> .config
echo "CONFIG_DT_DT_PERF=m"                >> .config
echo "CONFIG_DT_DEBUG=y"                  >> .config
echo "# CONFIG_DT_DEBUG_MUTEX is not set" >> .config

Step 5: build the kernel

This step could take hours.

make olddefconfig
make -j4
make -j4 ctf

Then install as root.

sudo make modules_install
sudo make install
sudo make INSTALL_HDR_PATH=/usr headers_install
cd ..

Step 6: reboot

Reboot to the new Fedora kernel.

sudo reboot

Step 7: download and build the DTrace userspace utility

Next we want to build the DTrace userspace utility dtrace, which is the command-line tool you will probably want to use to trace kernel activity.

git clone https://github.com/oracle/dtrace-utils.git
cd dtrace-utils

Next, we install build dependencies for this software. The DTrace packages are missing from Fedora repos, and we just built that software ourselves. So eliminate those packages from the .spec file before calling dnf builddep.

sed -i.old \
    -e 's/-devel libdtrace-ctf-devel >= [0-9\.]*/-devel/' \
    -e '/^BuildRequires: dtrace-kernel-headers = [0-9\.]*$/d' dtrace-utils.spec
sudo dnf builddep -y dtrace-utils.spec

And now we build

sudo make install
cd ..


Now, we can use DTrace on Fedora! (Notice that it is installed at /usr/sbin/dtrace. Some other utility is at /usr/bin/dtrace.) You must be logged in as root to use DTrace. The first thing to do is to list the available probes:

# /usr/sbin/dtrace -l
    ID   PROVIDER        MODULE                 FUNCTION NAME
     1     dtrace                                        BEGIN
     2     dtrace                                        END
     3     dtrace                                        ERROR
     5        fbt         isofs              isofs_hashi entry
     6        fbt         isofs              isofs_hashi return
     7        fbt         isofs             isofs_statfs entry
     8        fbt         isofs             isofs_statfs return
     9        fbt         isofs         isofs_iget5_test entry
    10        fbt         isofs         isofs_iget5_test return
[...thousands of lines omitted...]

Next, check out the Oracle DTrace Guide for simple examples and more information.

If you have any questions and for further updates on DTrace, please contact us at dtrace-devel at oss dot oracle dot com.

Elena Zannoni

Elena Zannoni is a Senior Director in Oracle, responsible for Linux Toolchain and tracing development.

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