NAME error::dwarf - dwarf debuginfo quality problems

DESCRIPTION Systemtap sometimes relies on ELF/DWARF debuginfo for programs being instrumented to locate places to probe, or context variables to read/write, just like a symbolic debugger does. Even though examina- tion of the programs source code may show variables or lines where probes may be desired, the compiler must preserve information about them for systemtap (or a debugger such as gdb) to get pinpoint access to the desired information. If a script requires such data, but the compiler did not preserve enough of it, pass-2 errors may result.

Common conditions that trigger these problems include;

compiler version Prior to GCC version 4.5, debuginfo quality was fairly limited. Often developers were advised to build their programs with -O0 -g flags to disable optimization. GCC version 4.5 introduced a facility called "variable-tracking assignments" that allows it to generate high-quality debuginfo under full -O2 -g optimiza- tion. It is not perfect, but much better than before. Note that, due to another gcc bug (PR51358) -O0 -g can actually some- times make debuginfo quality worse than for -O2 -g.

function inlining Even modern gcc sometimes has problems with parameters for inlined functions. It may be necessary to change the script to probe at a slightly different place (try a .statement() probe, instead of a .function() probe, somewhere a few source lines into the body of the inlined function. Or try putting a probe at the call site of the inlined function. Or use the if @defined($var) { ... } script language construct to test for the resolvability of the context variable before using it.

instruction reordering Heavily optimized code often smears the instructions from multi- ple source statements together. This can leave systemtap with no place to choose to place a probe, especially a statement probe specified by line number. Systemtap may advise to try a nearby line number, but these may not work well either. Con- sider placing a probe by a statement wildcard or line number range.

ALTERNATIVES In order to reduce reliance on ELF/DWARF debuginfo, consider the use of statically compiled-in instrumentation, such as kernel tracepoints, or <sys/sdt.h> userspace markers. Such instrumentation hook sites are relatively low cost (just one NOP instruction for sdt.h), and nearly guarantee the availability of parameter data and a reliable probe site, all without reliance on debuginfo.

SEE ALSO stap(1),, tap/wiki/TipContextVariables, ing_Assignments, error::reporting(7stap)