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.TH WATCHDOG 8 "January 2005"
.UC 4
watchdog \- a software watchdog daemon
.B watchdog
.RB [ \-F | \-\-foreground ]
.RB [ \-f | \-\-force ]
.RB [ \-c " \fIfilename\fR|" \-\-config\-file " \fIfilename\fR]"
.RB [ \-v | \-\-verbose ]
.RB [ \-s | \-\-sync ]
.RB [ \-b | \-\-softboot ]
.RB [ \-q | \-\-no\-action ]
The Linux kernel can reset the system if serious problems are detected.
This can be implemented via special watchdog hardware, or via a slightly
less reliable software-only watchdog inside the kernel. Either way, there
needs to be a daemon that tells the kernel the system is working fine. If the
daemon stops doing that, the system is reset.
.B watchdog
is such a daemon. It opens
.IR /dev/watchdog ,
and keeps writing to it often enough to keep the kernel from resetting,
at least once per minute. Each write delays the reboot
time another minute. After a minute of inactivity the watchdog hardware will
cause the reset. In the case of the software watchdog the ability to
reboot will depend on the state of the machines and interrupts.
The watchdog daemon can be stopped without causing a reboot if the device
.I /dev/watchdog
is closed correctly, unless your kernel is compiled with the
option enabled.
The watchdog daemon does several tests to check the system status:
.IP \(bu 3
Is the process table full?
.IP \(bu 3
Is there enough free memory?
.IP \(bu 3
Are some files accessible?
.IP \(bu 3
Have some files changed within a given interval?
.IP \(bu 3
Is the average work load too high?
.IP \(bu 3
Has a file table overflow occurred?
.IP \(bu 3
Is a process still running? The process is specified by a pid file.
.IP \(bu 3
Do some IP addresses answer to ping?
.IP \(bu 3
Do network interfaces receive traffic?
.IP \(bu 3
Is the temperature too high? (Temperature data not always available.)
.IP \(bu 3
Execute a user defined command to do arbitrary tests.
.IP \(bu 3
Execute one or more test/repair commands found in /etc/watchdog.d. These commands are called with the argument \fBtest\fP or \fBrepair\fP.
If any of these checks fail watchdog will cause a shutdown. Should any of
these tests except the user defined binary last longer than one minute the
machine will be rebooted, too.
Available command line options are the following:
.BR \-v ", " \-\-verbose
Set verbose mode. Only implemented if compiled with
feature. This
mode will log each several infos in
with priority
This is useful if you want to see exactly what happened until the watchdog rebooted
the system. Currently it logs the temperature (if available), the load
average, the change date of the files it checks and how often it went to sleep.
.BR \-s ", " \-\-sync
Try to synchronize the filesystem every time the process is awake. Note that
the system is rebooted if for any reason the synchronizing lasts longer
than a minute.
.BR \-b ", " \-\-softboot
Soft-boot the system if an error occurs during the main loop, e.g. if a
given file is not accessible via the
.BR stat (2)
call. Note that
this does not apply to the opening of
.I /dev/watchdog
.IR /proc/loadavg ,
which are opened before the main loop starts.
.BR \-F ", " \-\-foreground
Run in foreground mode, useful for running under systemd (for example).
.BR \-f ", " \-\-force
Force the usage of the interval given or the maximal load average given
in the config file.
.BR \-c " \fIconfig-file\fR, " \-\-config\-file " \fIconfig-file"
.I config-file
as the configuration file instead of the default
.IR /etc/watchdog.conf .
.BR \-q ", " \-\-no\-action
Do not reboot or halt the machine. This is for testing purposes. All checks
are executed and the results are logged as usual, but no action is taken.
Also your hardware card or the kernel software watchdog driver is not
enabled. Temperature checking is also disabled since this triggers
the hardware watchdog on some cards.
.B watchdog
starts, it puts itself into the background and then tries all checks
specified in its configuration file in turn. Between each two tests it will write to
the kernel device to prevent a reset.
After finishing all tests watchdog goes to sleep for some
time. The kernel drivers expects a write to the watchdog device every minute.
Otherwise the system will be reset. As a default
.B watchdog
will sleep for
only 1 second so it triggers the device early enough.
Under high system load
.B watchdog
might be swapped out of memory and may fail
to make it back in in time. Under these circumstances the Linux kernel will
reset the machine. To make sure you won't get unnecessary reboots make
sure you have the variable
.I realtime
set to
.I yes
in the configuration file
.IR watchdog.conf .
This adds real time support to
.BR watchdog :
it will lock itself into memory and there should be no problem even under the
highest of loads.
On system running out of memory the kernel will try to free enough memory by killing process. The
.B watchdog
daemon itself is exempted from this so-called out-of-memory killer.
Also you can specify a maximal allowed load average. Once this load average
is reached the system is rebooted. You may specify maximal load averages for
1 minute, 5 minutes or 15 minutes. The default values is to disable this
test. Be careful not to set this parameter too low. To set a value less then
the predefined minimal value of 2, you have to use the
.B -f
You can also specify a minimal amount of virtual memory you want to have
available as free. As soon as more virtual memory is used action is taken by
.BR watchdog .
Note, however, that watchdog does not distinguish between
different types of memory usage. It just checks for free virtual memory.
If you have a watchdog card with temperature sensor you can specify
the maximal allowed temperature. Once this temperature is reached the
system is halted. The default value is 120. There is no unit conversion so make
sure you use the same unit as your hardware.
.B watchdog
will issue warnings
once the temperature increases 90%, 95% and 98% of this temperature.
When using file mode
.B watchdog
will try to
.BR stat (2)
the given files. Errors returned
by stat will
.B not
cause a reboot. For a reboot the stat call has to last at least one minute.
This may happen if the file is located on an NFS mounted filesystem. If your
system relies on an NFS mounted filesystem you might try this option.
However, in such a case the
.I sync
option may not work if the NFS server is
not answering.
.B watchdog
can read the pid from a pid file and
see whether the process still exists. If not, action is taken
.BR watchdog .
So you can for instance restart the server from your
.IR repair-binary .
.B watchdog
will try periodically to fork itself to see whether the process
table is full. This process will leave a zombie process until watchdog wakes
up again and catches it; this is harmless, don't worry about it.
In ping mode
.B watchdog
tries to ping the given IP addresses. These addresses do
not have to be a single machine. It is possible to ping to a broadcast
address instead to see if at least one machine in a subnet is still living.
.B Do not use this broadcast ping unless your MIS person a) knows about it and
.B b) has given you explicit permission to use it!
.B watchdog
will send out three ping packages and wait up to <interval> seconds
for the reply with <interval> being the time it goes to sleep between two
times triggering the watchdog device. Thus a unreachable network will not
cause a hard reset but a soft reboot.
You can also test passively for an unreachable network by just monitoring
a given interface for traffic. If no traffic arrives the network is
considered unreachable causing a soft reboot or action from the
repair binary.
.B watchdog can run an external command for user-defined tests. A return code
not equal 0 means an error occured and watchdog should react. If the external
command is killed by an uncaught signal this is considered an error by watchdog
The command may take longer than the time slice defined for the kernel device
without a problem. However, error messages are
generated into the syslog facility. If you have enabled softboot on error
the machine will be rebooted if the binary doesn't exit in half the time
.B watchdog
sleeps between two tries triggering the kernel device.
If you specify a repair binary it will be started instead of shutting down
the system. If this binary is not able to fix the problem
.B watchdog
will still cause a reboot afterwards.
If the machine is halted an email is sent to notify a human that
the machine is going down. Starting with version 4.4
.B watchdog
will also notify the human in charge if the machine is rebooted.
A soft reboot (i.e. controlled shutdown and reboot) is initiated for every
error that is found. Since there might be no more processes available,
watchdog does it all by himself. That means:
.IP 1. 4
Kill all processes with SIGTERM.
.IP 2. 4
After a short pause kill all remaining processes with SIGKILL.
.IP 3. 4
Record a shutdown entry in wtmp.
.IP 4. 4
Save the random seed from
.IR /dev/urandom .
If the device is non-existant or
there is no filename for saving this step is skipped.
.IP 5. 4
Turn off accounting.
.IP 6. 4
Turn off quota and swap.
.IP 7. 4
Unmount all partitions except the root partition.
.IP 8. 4
Remount the root partition read-only.
.IP 9. 4
Shut down all network interfaces.
.IP 10. 4
Finally reboot.
If the return code of the check binary is not zero
.B watchdog
will assume an
error and reboot the system. Be careful with this if you are using the
real-time properties of watchdog since
.B watchdog
will wait for the return of
this binary before proceeding. An positive exit code is interpreted as an
system error code (see
.I errno.h
for details). Negative values are special to
.BR watchdog :
Reboot the system. This is not exactly an error message but a command to
.BR watchdog .
If the return code is \-1
.B watchdog
will not try to run a shutdown
script instead.
Reset the system. This is not exactly an error message but a command to
.BR watchdog .
If the return code is \-2
.B watchdog will simply refuse to write the
kernel device again.
Maximum load average exceeded.
The temperature inside is too high.
.I /proc/loadavg
contains no (or not enough) data.
The given file was not changed in the given interval.
.I /proc/meminfo
contains invalid data.
Child process was killed by a signal.
Child process did not return in time.
Free for personal use.
The repair binary is started with one parameter: the error number that
.B watchdog
to initiate the boot process. After trying to repair the
system the binary should exit with 0 if the system was successfully repaired
and thus there is no need to boot anymore. A return value not equal 0 tells
.B watchdog
to reboot. The return code of the repair binary should be the error
number of the error causing
.B watchdog
to reboot. Be careful with this if you
are using the real-time properties since
.B watchdog
will wait for
the return of this binary before proceeding.
Executables placed in the test directory are discovered by watchdog on
startup and are automatically executed. They are bounded time-wise by
the test-timeout directive in watchdog.conf.
These executables are called with either "test" as the first argument
(if a test is being performed) or "repair" as the first argument (if a
repair for a previously-failed "test" operation on is being performed).
The as with test binaries and repair binaries, expected exit codes for
a successful test or repair operation is always zero.
If an executable's test operation fails, the same executable is automatically
called with the "repair" argument as well as the return code of the
previously-failed test operation.
For example, if the following execution returns 42:
/etc/watchdog.d/my-test test
The watchdog daemon will attempt to repair the problem by calling:
/etc/watchdog.d/my-test repair 42
This enables administrators and application developers to make intelligent
test/repair commands. If the "repair" operation is not required (or is
not likely to succeed), it is important that the author of the command
return a non-zero value so the machine will still reboot as expected.
Note that the watchdog daemon may interpret and act upon any of the reserved
return codes noted in the Check Binary section prior to calling a given
command in "repair" mode.
None known so far.
The original code is an example written by Alan Cox
<>, the author of the kernel driver. All
additions were written by Michael Meskes <>. Johnie Ingram
<> had the idea of testing the load average. He also took
over the Debian specific work. Dave Cinege <> brought
up some hardware watchdog issues and helped testing this stuff.
.I /dev/watchdog
The watchdog device.
.I /var/run/
The pid file of the running
.BR watchdog .
.BR watchdog.conf (5)