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SystemTap and Erlang/OTP


SystemTap is DTrace for Linux. In fact Erlang's SystemTap support is build using SystemTap's DTrace compatibility's layer. For an introduction to Erlang DTrace support read


  • Linux Kernel with UTRACE support

    check for UTRACE support in your current kernel:

    grep CONFIG_UTRACE /boot/config-uname -r


    Fedora 16 is known to contain UTRACE, for most other Linux distributions a custom build kernel will be required. Check Fedora's SystemTap documentation for additional required packages (e.g. Kernel Debug Symbols)

  • SystemTap > 1.6

    A the time of writing this, the latest released version of SystemTap is version 1.6. Erlang's DTrace support requires a MACRO that was introduced after that release. So either get a newer release or build SystemTap from git yourself (see:

Building Erlang

Configure and build Erlang with SystemTap support:

./configure --with-dynamic-trace=systemtap + whatever args you need



SystemTap, unlike DTrace, needs to know what binary it is tracing and has to be able to read that binary before it starts tracing. Your probe script therefor has to reference the correct beam emulator and stap needs to be able to find that binary. The examples are written for "beam", but other versions such as "beam.smp" or "beam.debug.smp" might exist (depending on your configuration). Make sure you either specify the full the path of the binary in the probe or your "beam" binary is in the search path.

All available probes can be listed like this:

stap -L 'process("beam").mark("*")'


PATH=/path/to/beam:$PATH stap -L 'process("beam").mark("*")'

Probes in the NIF library like this:

PATH=/path/to/dtrace/priv/lib:$PATH stap -L 'process("").mark("*")'

Running SystemTap scripts

Adjust the process("beam") reference to your beam version and attach the script to a running "beam" instance:

stap /path/to/probe/script/port1.systemtap -x