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Uprobe-tracer: Uprobe-based Event Tracing
Documentation written by Srikar Dronamraju
Uprobe based trace events are similar to kprobe based trace events.
To enable this feature, build your kernel with CONFIG_UPROBE_EVENT=y.
Similar to the kprobe-event tracer, this doesn't need to be activated via
current_tracer. Instead of that, add probe points via
/sys/kernel/debug/tracing/uprobe_events, and enable it via
However unlike kprobe-event tracer, the uprobe event interface expects the
user to calculate the offset of the probepoint in the object.
Synopsis of uprobe_tracer
p[:[GRP/]EVENT] PATH:SYMBOL[+offs] [FETCHARGS] : Set a uprobe
r[:[GRP/]EVENT] PATH:SYMBOL[+offs] [FETCHARGS] : Set a return uprobe (uretprobe)
-:[GRP/]EVENT : Clear uprobe or uretprobe event
GRP : Group name. If omitted, "uprobes" is the default value.
EVENT : Event name. If omitted, the event name is generated based
on SYMBOL+offs.
PATH : Path to an executable or a library.
SYMBOL[+offs] : Symbol+offset where the probe is inserted.
FETCHARGS : Arguments. Each probe can have up to 128 args.
%REG : Fetch register REG
Event Profiling
You can check the total number of probe hits and probe miss-hits via
The first column is event name, the second is the number of probe hits,
the third is the number of probe miss-hits.
Usage examples
* Add a probe as a new uprobe event, write a new definition to uprobe_events
as below: (sets a uprobe at an offset of 0x4245c0 in the executable /bin/bash)
echo 'p: /bin/bash:0x4245c0' > /sys/kernel/debug/tracing/uprobe_events
* Add a probe as a new uretprobe event:
echo 'r: /bin/bash:0x4245c0' > /sys/kernel/debug/tracing/uprobe_events
* Unset registered event:
echo '-:bash_0x4245c0' >> /sys/kernel/debug/tracing/uprobe_events
* Print out the events that are registered:
cat /sys/kernel/debug/tracing/uprobe_events
* Clear all events:
echo > /sys/kernel/debug/tracing/uprobe_events
Following example shows how to dump the instruction pointer and %ax register
at the probed text address. Probe zfree function in /bin/zsh:
# cd /sys/kernel/debug/tracing/
# cat /proc/`pgrep zsh`/maps | grep /bin/zsh | grep r-xp
00400000-0048a000 r-xp 00000000 08:03 130904 /bin/zsh
# objdump -T /bin/zsh | grep -w zfree
0000000000446420 g DF .text 0000000000000012 Base zfree
0x46420 is the offset of zfree in object /bin/zsh that is loaded at
0x00400000. Hence the command to uprobe would be:
# echo 'p:zfree_entry /bin/zsh:0x46420 %ip %ax' > uprobe_events
And the same for the uretprobe would be:
# echo 'r:zfree_exit /bin/zsh:0x46420 %ip %ax' >> uprobe_events
Please note: User has to explicitly calculate the offset of the probe-point
in the object. We can see the events that are registered by looking at the
uprobe_events file.
# cat uprobe_events
p:uprobes/zfree_entry /bin/zsh:0x00046420 arg1=%ip arg2=%ax
r:uprobes/zfree_exit /bin/zsh:0x00046420 arg1=%ip arg2=%ax
Format of events can be seen by viewing the file events/uprobes/zfree_entry/format
# cat events/uprobes/zfree_entry/format
name: zfree_entry
ID: 922
field:unsigned short common_type; offset:0; size:2; signed:0;
field:unsigned char common_flags; offset:2; size:1; signed:0;
field:unsigned char common_preempt_count; offset:3; size:1; signed:0;
field:int common_pid; offset:4; size:4; signed:1;
field:int common_padding; offset:8; size:4; signed:1;
field:unsigned long __probe_ip; offset:12; size:4; signed:0;
field:u32 arg1; offset:16; size:4; signed:0;
field:u32 arg2; offset:20; size:4; signed:0;
print fmt: "(%lx) arg1=%lx arg2=%lx", REC->__probe_ip, REC->arg1, REC->arg2
Right after definition, each event is disabled by default. For tracing these
events, you need to enable it by:
# echo 1 > events/uprobes/enable
Lets disable the event after sleeping for some time.
# sleep 20
# echo 0 > events/uprobes/enable
And you can see the traced information via /sys/kernel/debug/tracing/trace.
# cat trace
# tracer: nop
# | | | | |
zsh-24842 [006] 258544.995456: zfree_entry: (0x446420) arg1=446420 arg2=79
zsh-24842 [007] 258545.000270: zfree_exit: (0x446540 <- 0x446420) arg1=446540 arg2=0
zsh-24842 [002] 258545.043929: zfree_entry: (0x446420) arg1=446420 arg2=79
zsh-24842 [004] 258547.046129: zfree_exit: (0x446540 <- 0x446420) arg1=446540 arg2=0
Output shows us uprobe was triggered for a pid 24842 with ip being 0x446420
and contents of ax register being 79. And uretprobe was triggered with ip at
0x446540 with counterpart function entry at 0x446420.