Uscope: A Scalable Unified Tracer from Kernel to User Space


Unified tracing is the process of collecting trace logs across the boundary of kernel and user spaces, and has been used to understand the in-depth correspondence between low level events and application program context for diagnosing system failures and performance problems. Crossing the boundary from the kernel space to a user space to collect trace events from dual spaces imposes challenges compared to crossing the boundary in the other way from a user space to the kernel space due to multiple scheduled programs and diverse code layouts in the user space regarding the tracing target. In this paper, we propose a novel unified tracing system called Uscope to systematically trace kernel and unprecedented user code with low overhead. The key idea is to use an efficient variant of stack walking. Uscope lowers stack walking overhead by adjusting the scope of walking in two ways: (1) a highly configurable focus within the call stack, and (2) a per-application tracing that systematically tracks a dynamic set of new, exiting, or transforming processes and threads of an application software. This system is realized by using a flexible stack walking algorithm and a runtime kernel structure, Trace Map. These key features lead to low run-time overhead under 6% relative to native execution on a set of widely used benchmarks.

IFIP/IEEE Network Operation and Management Symposium, Krakow, Poland, May 2014