Section: Misc. Reference Manual Pages (7stap)
error::sdt - <sys/sdt.h
> marker failures
probes are modeled after the dtrace USDT API, but are implemented
differently. They leave a only a NOP instruction in the userspace
program's text segment, and add an ELF note to the binary with
metadata. This metadata describes the marker's name and parameters.
This encoding is designed to be parseable by multiple tools (not just
systemtap: GDB, the GNU Debugger, also contains support). These allow
the tools to find parameters and their types, wherever they happen to
reside, even without DWARF debuginfo.
The reason finding parameters is tricky is because the STAP_PROBE /
DTRACE_PROBE markers store an assembly language expression for each
operand, as a result of use of gcc inline-assembly directives. The
compiler is given a broad gcc operand constraint string ("nor") for
the operands, which usually works well. Usually, it does not force
the compiler to load the parameters into or out of registers, which
would slow down an instrumented program. However, some
instrumentation sites with some parameters do not work well with the
default "nor" constraint.
- unresolveable at run-time
GCC may emit strings that an assembler could resolve (from the
context of compiling the original program), but a run-time tool
cannot. For example, the operand string might refer to a label of a
local symbol that is not emitted into the ELF object file at all,
which leaves no trace for the run-time. Reference to such parameters
from within systemtap can result in "SDT asm not understood" errors.
- too complicated expression
GCC might synthesize very complicated assembly addressing modes from
complex C data types / pointer expressions. systemtap or gdb may not
be able to parse some valid but complicated expressions. Reference to
such parameters from within systemtap can result in "SDT asm not
- overly restrictive constraint
GCC might not be able to even compile the original program with the
default "nor" constraint due to shortage of registers or other
reasons. A compile-time gcc error such as "asm operand has impossible
constraints" may result.
There are two general workarounds to this family of problems.
- change the constraints
While compiling the original instrumented program, set the
macro to different constraint strings. See the GCC manual about
various options. For example, on many machine architectures, "r" forces
operands into registers, and "g" leaves operands essentially unconstrained.
- revert to debuginfo
As long as the instrumented program compiles, it may be fine simply to
keep using <sys/sdt.h> but eschew extraction of a few individual
parameters. In the worst case, disable <sys/sdt.h> macros entirely to
eschew the compiled-in instrumentation. If DWARF debuginfo was
generated and preserved, a systemtap script could refer to the
underlying source context variables instead of the positional