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14. Diagnosing Problems

If you get UML to crash, hang, or otherwise misbehave, you should report this on one of the project mailing lists, either the developer list - user-mode-linux-devel at lists dot sourceforge dot net (subscription info) or the user list - user-mode-linux-user at lists dot sourceforge dot net (subscription info). When you do, it is likely that I will want more information. So, it would be helpful to read the stuff below, do whatever is applicable in your case, and report the results to the list.

For any diagnosis, you're going to need to build a debugging kernel. The binaries from this site aren't debuggable. If you haven't done this before, read about Compiling the kernel and modules and Kernel debugging UML first.

14.1 Case 1 : Normal kernel panics

The most common case is for a normal thread to panic. To debug this, you will need to run it under the debugger (add 'debug' to the command line). An xterm will start up with gdb running inside it. Continue it when it stops in start_kernel and make it crash. Now ^C gdb and 'bt'. I'm going to want to see the resulting stack trace.

If the panic was a "Kernel mode fault", then there will be a segv frame on the stack and I'm going to want some more information. The stack might look something like this:

(UML gdb)  backtrace
#0  0x1009bf76 in __sigprocmask (how=1, set=0x5f347940, oset=0x0)
    at ../sysdeps/unix/sysv/linux/sigprocmask.c:49
#1  0x10091411 in change_sig (signal=10, on=1) at process.c:218
#2  0x10094785 in timer_handler (sig=26) at time_kern.c:32
#3  0x1009bf38 in __restore ()
    at ../sysdeps/unix/sysv/linux/i386/sigaction.c:125
#4  0x1009534c in segv (address=8, ip=268849158, is_write=2, is_user=0)
    at trap_kern.c:66
#5  0x10095c04 in segv_handler (sig=11) at trap_user.c:285
#6  0x1009bf38 in __restore ()
I'm going to want to see the symbol and line information for the value of ip in the segv frame. In this case, you would do the following:
(UML gdb)  i sym 268849158
(UML gdb)  i line *268849158
The reason for this is the __restore frame right above the segv_handler frame is hiding the frame that actually segfaulted. So, I have to get that information from the faulting ip.

14.2 Case 2 : Tracing thread panics

The less common and more painful case is when the tracing thread panics. In this case, the kernel debugger will be useless because it needs a healthy tracing thread in order to work. The first thing to do is get a backtrace from the tracing thread. This is done by figuring out what its pid is, firing up gdb, and attaching it to that pid. You can figure out the tracing thread pid by looking at the first line of the console output, which will look like this:

tracing thread pid = 15851
or by running ps on the host and finding the line that looks like this:
jdike 15851 4.5 0.4 132568 1104 pts/0 S 21:34 0:05 ./linux [(tracing thread)]
If the panic was 'segfault in signals', then follow the instructions above for collecting information about the location of the seg fault.

If the tracing thread flaked out all by itself, then send that backtrace in and wait for our crack debugging team to fix the problem.

14.3 Case 3 : Tracing thread panics caused by other threads

However, there are cases where the misbehavior of another thread caused the problem. The most common panic of this type is:

wait_for_stop failed to wait for  <pid>  to stop with  <signal number> 
In this case, you'll need to get a backtrace from the process mentioned in the panic, which is complicated by the fact that the kernel debugger is defunct and without some fancy footwork, another gdb can't attach to it. So, this is how the fancy footwork goes:

In a shell:

host% kill -STOP pid
Run gdb on the tracing thread as described in case 2 and do:
(host gdb)  call detach(pid)
If you get a segfault, do it again. It always works the second time.

Detach from the tracing thread and attach to that other thread:

(host gdb)  detach
(host gdb)  attach pid
If gdb hangs when attaching to that process, go back to a shell and do:
kill -CONT pid
And then get the backtrace:
(host gdb)  backtrace

14.4 Case 4 : Hangs

Hangs seem to be fairly rare, but they sometimes happen. When a hang happens, we need a backtrace from the offending process. Run the kernel debugger as described in case 1 and get a backtrace. If the current process is not the idle thread, then send in the backtrace. You can tell that it's the idle thread if the stack looks like this:

#0  0x100b1401 in __libc_nanosleep ()
#1  0x100a2885 in idle_sleep (secs=10) at time.c:122
#2  0x100a546f in do_idle () at process_kern.c:445
#3  0x100a5508 in cpu_idle () at process_kern.c:471
#4  0x100ec18f in start_kernel () at init/main.c:592
#5  0x100a3e10 in start_kernel_proc (unused=0x0) at um_arch.c:71
#6  0x100a383f in signal_tramp (arg=0x100a3dd8) at trap_user.c:50
If this is the case, then some other process is at fault, and went to sleep when it shouldn't have. Run ps on the host and figure out which process should not have gone to sleep and stayed asleep. Then attach to it with gdb and get a backtrace as described in case 3.

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