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= Tracing =
== Introduction ==
This document describes the tracing infrastructure in QEMU and how to use it
for debugging, profiling, and observing execution.
== Quickstart ==
1. Build with the 'simple' trace backend:
./configure --trace-backend=simple
2. Enable trace events you are interested in:
$EDITOR trace-events # remove "disable" from events you want
3. Run the virtual machine to produce a trace file:
qemu ... # your normal QEMU invocation
4. Pretty-print the binary trace file:
./ trace-events trace-*
== Trace events ==
There is a set of static trace events declared in the trace-events source
file. Each trace event declaration names the event, its arguments, and the
format string which can be used for pretty-printing:
qemu_malloc(size_t size, void *ptr) "size %zu ptr %p"
qemu_free(void *ptr) "ptr %p"
The trace-events file is processed by the tracetool script during build to
generate code for the trace events. Trace events are invoked directly from
source code like this:
#include "trace.h" /* needed for trace event prototype */
void *qemu_malloc(size_t size)
void *ptr;
if (!size && !allow_zero_malloc()) {
ptr = oom_check(malloc(size ? size : 1));
trace_qemu_malloc(size, ptr); /* <-- trace event */
return ptr;
=== Declaring trace events ===
The tracetool script produces the trace.h header file which is included by
every source file that uses trace events. Since many source files include
trace.h, it uses a minimum of types and other header files included to keep
the namespace clean and compile times and dependencies down.
Trace events should use types as follows:
* Use stdint.h types for fixed-size types. Most offsets and guest memory
addresses are best represented with uint32_t or uint64_t. Use fixed-size
types over primitive types whose size may change depending on the host
(32-bit versus 64-bit) so trace events don't truncate values or break
the build.
* Use void * for pointers to structs or for arrays. The trace.h header
cannot include all user-defined struct declarations and it is therefore
necessary to use void * for pointers to structs.
* For everything else, use primitive scalar types (char, int, long) with the
appropriate signedness.
Format strings should reflect the types defined in the trace event. Take
special care to use PRId64 and PRIu64 for int64_t and uint64_t types,
respectively. This ensures portability between 32- and 64-bit platforms. Note
that format strings must begin and end with double quotes. When using
portability macros, ensure they are preceded and followed by double quotes:
"value %"PRIx64"".
=== Hints for adding new trace events ===
1. Trace state changes in the code. Interesting points in the code usually
involve a state change like starting, stopping, allocating, freeing. State
changes are good trace events because they can be used to understand the
execution of the system.
2. Trace guest operations. Guest I/O accesses like reading device registers
are good trace events because they can be used to understand guest
3. Use correlator fields so the context of an individual line of trace output
can be understood. For example, trace the pointer returned by malloc and
used as an argument to free. This way mallocs and frees can be matched up.
Trace events with no context are not very useful.
4. Name trace events after their function. If there are multiple trace events
in one function, append a unique distinguisher at the end of the name.
5. Declare trace events with the "disable" keyword. Some trace events can
produce a lot of output and users are typically only interested in a subset
of trace events. Marking trace events disabled by default saves the user
from having to manually disable noisy trace events.
== Trace backends ==
The tracetool script automates tedious trace event code generation and also
keeps the trace event declarations independent of the trace backend. The trace
events are not tightly coupled to a specific trace backend, such as LTTng or
SystemTap. Support for trace backends can be added by extending the tracetool
The trace backend is chosen at configure time and only one trace backend can
be built into the binary:
./configure --trace-backend=simple
For a list of supported trace backends, try ./configure --help or see below.
The following subsections describe the supported trace backends.
=== Nop ===
The "nop" backend generates empty trace event functions so that the compiler
can optimize out trace events completely. This is the default and imposes no
performance penalty.
=== Simpletrace ===
The "simple" backend supports common use cases and comes as part of the QEMU
source tree. It may not be as powerful as platform-specific or third-party
trace backends but it is portable. This is the recommended trace backend
unless you have specific needs for more advanced backends.
=== Stderr ===
The "stderr" backend sends trace events directly to standard error output
during emulation.
==== Monitor commands ====
* info trace
Display the contents of trace buffer. This command dumps the trace buffer
with simple formatting. For full pretty-printing, use the
script on a binary trace file.
The trace buffer is written into until full. The full trace buffer is
flushed and emptied. This means the 'info trace' will display few or no
entries if the buffer has just been flushed.
* info trace-events
View available trace events and their state. State 1 means enabled, state 0
means disabled.
* trace-event NAME on|off
Enable/disable a given trace event.
* trace-file on|off|flush|set <path>
Enable/disable/flush the trace file or set the trace file name.
==== Enabling/disabling trace events programmatically ====
The st_change_trace_event_state() function can be used to enable or disable trace
events at runtime inside QEMU:
#include "trace.h"
st_change_trace_event_state("virtio_irq", true); /* enable */
st_change_trace_event_state("virtio_irq", false); /* disable */
==== Analyzing trace files ====
The "simple" backend produces binary trace files that can be formatted with the script. The script takes the trace-events file and the binary
./ trace-events trace-12345
You must ensure that the same trace-events file was used to build QEMU,
otherwise trace event declarations may have changed and output will not be
=== LTTng Userspace Tracer ===
The "ust" backend uses the LTTng Userspace Tracer library. There are no
monitor commands built into QEMU, instead UST utilities should be used to list,
enable/disable, and dump traces.
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