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PIDs and TIDs in filters and output #547

markdrayton opened this issue May 21, 2016 · 2 comments


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commented May 21, 2016

Lots of the scripts in tools/ take a PID argument to apply filtering to a particular process. The filtering is usually on task->pid (i.e. the lower 32 bits of bpf_get_current_pid_tgid()) and consequently only matches a single thread within a process. IME most userspace apps treat PID as TGID, rather than a specific thread within the process (e.g. think pgrep, ps aux, etc).

Sometime it's handy to filter events by a single task but very often I want to do something for a whole process without filtering by threads within it. E.g., if I wanted to see which stacks in my webserver are doing block IO I'd run stacksnoop -p $(pgrep webserver) submit_bio and expect it to match all threads by default. If I was doing this in perf its -p option would match the process, not a particular thread (there is -t to limit to certain threads).

Any objections to changing tools to:

a) make -p PID filter on TGID
b) adding a -t TID option to limit to a single task (i.e. what -p does now)
c) print both TID and PID in output

I realise this is changing existing behavior but I'd argue it'd be a net improvement overall.


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commented May 21, 2016

makes sense to me. I think we discussed pid/tgid controversy few times.
Though it may be a bit confusing to script writers that kernel pid is compared with command line tid
and kernel tgid is compared with command line pid.


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commented May 24, 2016

Makes sense to me. I think -p should match whatever pidstat says is the PID, and -t should match what "pidstat -t" says is the TID.

I likely got this wrong many, many times (copy-n-pasted) in /tools, sorry. Would be happy to see it fixed!

As for printing both PID and TID, definitely print TID if -t is used (as the user has signaled that it is important). As for other tools and default output, I guess it would depend on the tool. I try to keep the default output to a minimum. Some tools probably have -v for verbose. Plus I also try to keep the default output to < 80 chars width.

Eg, execsnoop default output probably shouldn't have TID. Nor should killsnoop. ... Actually, I probably wouldn't add TID to most of the scripts' default output. It could show up with -t, or -v.

This will require updates to the /examples files and man pages...

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