Applies to openSUSE Leap 42.3

17 Kexec and Kdump

Kexec is a tool to boot to another kernel from the currently running one. You can perform faster system reboots without any hardware initialization. You can also prepare the system to boot to another kernel if the system crashes.

17.1 Introduction

With Kexec, you can replace the running kernel with another one without a hard reboot. The tool is useful for several reasons:

  • Faster system rebooting

    If you need to reboot the system frequently, Kexec can save you significant time.

  • Avoiding unreliable firmware and hardware

    Computer hardware is complex and serious problems may occur during the system start-up. You cannot always replace unreliable hardware immediately. Kexec boots the kernel to a controlled environment with the hardware already initialized. The risk of unsuccessful system start is then minimized.

  • Saving the dump of a crashed kernel

    Kexec preserves the contents of the physical memory. After the production kernel fails, the capture kernel (an additional kernel running in a reserved memory range) saves the state of the failed kernel. The saved image can help you with the subsequent analysis.

  • Booting without GRUB 2 configuration

    When the system boots a kernel with Kexec, it skips the boot loader stage. The normal booting procedure can fail because of an error in the boot loader configuration. With Kexec, you do not depend on a working boot loader configuration.

17.2 Required Packages

To use Kexec on openSUSE® Leap to speed up reboots or avoid potential hardware problems, make sure that the package kexec-tools is installed. It contains a script called kexec-bootloader, which reads the boot loader configuration and runs Kexec using the same kernel options as the normal boot loader.

To set up an environment that helps you obtain debug information in case of a kernel crash, make sure that the package makedumpfile is installed.

The preferred method of using Kdump in openSUSE Leap is through the YaST Kdump module. To use the YaST module, make sure that the package yast2-kdump is installed.

17.3 Kexec Internals

The most important component of Kexec is the /sbin/kexec command. You can load a kernel with Kexec in two different ways:

  • Load the kernel to the address space of a production kernel for a regular reboot:

    root # kexec -l KERNEL_IMAGE

    You can later boot to this kernel with kexec -e.

  • Load the kernel to a reserved area of memory:

    root # kexec -p KERNEL_IMAGE

    This kernel will be booted automatically when the system crashes.

If you want to boot another kernel and preserve the data of the production kernel when the system crashes, you need to reserve a dedicated area of the system memory. The production kernel never loads to this area because it must be always available. It is used for the capture kernel so that the memory pages of the production kernel can be preserved.

To reserve the area, append the option crashkernel to the boot command line of the production kernel. To determine the necessary values for crashkernel, follow the instructions in Section 17.4, “Calculating crashkernel Allocation Size”.

Note that this is not a parameter of the capture kernel. The capture kernel does not use Kexec.

The capture kernel is loaded to the reserved area and waits for the kernel to crash. Then, Kdump tries to invoke the capture kernel because the production kernel is no longer reliable at this stage. This means that even Kdump can fail.

To load the capture kernel, you need to include the kernel boot parameters. Usually, the initial RAM file system is used for booting. You can specify it with --initrd=FILENAME. With --append=CMDLINE, you append options to the command line of the kernel to boot.

It is helpful to include the command line of the production kernel if these options are necessary for the kernel to boot. You can simply copy the command line with --append="$(cat /proc/cmdline)" or add more options with --append="$(cat /proc/cmdline) more_options".

You can always unload the previously loaded kernel. To unload a kernel that was loaded with the -l option, use the kexec -u command. To unload a crash kernel loaded with the -p option, use kexec -p -u command.

17.4 Calculating crashkernel Allocation Size

To use Kexec with a capture kernel and to use Kdump in any way, RAM needs to be allocated for the capture kernel. The allocation size depends on the expected hardware configuration of the computer, therefore you need to specify it.

The allocation size also depends on the hardware architecture of your computer. Make sure to follow the procedure intended for your system architecture.

Procedure 17.1: Allocation Size on AMD64/Intel 64
  1. To find out the base value for the computer, run the following in a terminal:

    root # kdumptool calibrate

    This command returns a list of values. All values are given in megabytes.

  2. Write down the values of Low and High.

    Note
    Note: Significance of Low and High Values

    On AMD64/Intel 64 computers, the High value stands for the memory reservation for all available memory. The Low value stands for the memory reservation in the DMA32 zone, that is, all the memory up to the 4 GB mark.

    If the computer has less than 4 GB of RAM, the High memory reservation is allocated and the Low memory reservation is ignored. If the computer has more than 4 GB of RAM, the Low memory reservation is allocated additionally.

  3. Adapt the High value from the previous step for the number of LUN kernel paths (paths to storage devices) attached to the computer. A sensible value in megabytes can be calculated using this formula:

    SIZE_HIGH = RECOMMENDATION + (LUNs / 2)

    The following parameters are used in this formula:

    • SIZE_HIGH.  The resulting value for High.

    • RECOMMENDATION.  The value recommended by kdumptool calibrate for High.

    • LUNs.  The maximum number of LUN kernel paths that you expect to ever create on the computer. Exclude multipath devices from this number, as these are ignored.

  4. If the drivers for your device make many reservations in the DMA32 zone, the Low value also needs to be adjusted. However, there is no simple formula to calculate these. Finding the right size can therefore be a process of trial and error.

    For the beginning, use the Low value recommended by kdump calibrate.

  5. The values now need to be set in the correct location.

    If you are changing the kernel command line directly

    Append the following kernel option to your boot loader configuration:

    crashkernel=SIZE_HIGH,high crashkernel=SIZE_LOW,low

    Replace the placeholders SIZE_HIGH and SIZE_LOW with the appropriate value from the previous steps and append the letter M (for megabytes).

    As an example, the following is valid:

    crashkernel=36M,high crashkernel=72M,low
    If you are using the YaST GUI:

    Set Kdump Low Memory to the determined Low value.

    Set Kdump High Memory to the determined High value.

    If you are using the YaST command line interface:

    Use the following command:

    root # yast kdump startup enable alloc_mem=LOW,HIGH

    Replace LOW with the determined Low value. Replace HIGH with the determined HIGH value.

Procedure 17.2: Allocation Size on POWER and z Systems
  1. To find out the basis value for the computer, run the following in a terminal:

    root # kdumptool calibrate

    This command returns a list of values. All values are given in megabytes.

  2. Write down the value of Low.

  3. Adapt the Low value from the previous step for the number of LUN kernel paths (paths to storage devices) attached to the computer. A sensible value in megabytes can be calculated using this formula:

    SIZE_LOW = RECOMMENDATION + (LUNs / 2)

    The following parameters are used in this formula:

    • SIZE_LOW.  The resulting value for Low.

    • RECOMMENDATION.  The value recommended by kdumptool calibrate for Low.

    • LUNs.  The maximum number of LUN kernel paths that you expect to ever create on the computer. Exclude multipath devices from this number, as these are ignored.

  4. The values now need to be set in the correct location.

    If you are working on the command line

    Append the following kernel option to your boot loader configuration:

    crashkernel=SIZE_LOW

    Replace the placeholderSIZE_LOW with the appropriate value from the previous step and append the letter M (for megabytes).

    As an example, the following is valid:

    crashkernel=108M
    If you are working in YaST

    Set Kdump Memory to the determined Low value.

Tip
Tip: Excluding Unused and Inactive CCW Devices on IBM z Systems

Depending on the number of available devices the calculated amount of memory specified by the crashkernel kernel parameter may not be sufficient. Instead of increasing the value, you may alternatively limit the amount of devices visible to the kernel. This will lower the required amount of memory for the "crashkernel" setting.

  1. To ignore devices you can run the cio_ignore tool to generate an appropriate stanza to ignore all devices, except the ones currently active or in use.

    tux > sudo cio_ignore -u -k
    cio_ignore=all,!da5d,!f500-f502

    When you run cio_ignore -u -k, the blacklist will become active and replace any existing blacklist immediately. Unused devices are not being purged, so they still appear in the channel subsystem. But adding new channel devices (via CP ATTACH under z/VM or dynamic I/O configuration change in LPAR) will treat them as blacklisted. To prevent this, preserve the original setting by running sudo cio_ignore -l first and reverting to that state after running cio_ignore -u -k. As an alternative, add the generated stanza to the regular kernel boot parameters.

  2. Now add the cio_ignore kernel parameter with the stanza from above to KDUMP_CMDLINE_APPEND in /etc/sysconfig/kdump, for example:

    KDUMP_COMMANDLINE_APPEND="cio_ignore=all,!da5d,!f500-f502"
  3. Activate the setting by restarting kdump:

    systemctl restart kdump.service

17.5 Basic Kexec Usage

To verify if your Kexec environment works properly, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure no users are currently logged in and no important services are running on the system.

  2. Log in as root.

  3. Switch to the rescue target with systemctl isolate rescue.target

  4. Load the new kernel to the address space of the production kernel with the following command:

    root # kexec -l /boot/vmlinuz --append="$(cat /proc/cmdline)" \
    --initrd=/boot/initrd
  5. Unmount all mounted file systems except the root file system with:

    umount -a
    Important
    Important: Unmounting the Root File System

    Unmounting all file systems will most likely produce a device is busy warning message. The root file system cannot be unmounted if the system is running. Ignore the warning.

  6. Remount the root file system in read-only mode:

    root # mount -o remount,ro /
  7. Initiate the reboot of the kernel that you loaded in Step 4 with:

    root # kexec -e

It is important to unmount the previously mounted disk volumes in read-write mode. The reboot system call acts immediately upon calling. Hard disk volumes mounted in read-write mode neither synchronize nor unmount automatically. The new kernel may find them dirty. Read-only disk volumes and virtual file systems do not need to be unmounted. Refer to /etc/mtab to determine which file systems you need to unmount.

The new kernel previously loaded to the address space of the older kernel rewrites it and takes control immediately. It displays the usual start-up messages. When the new kernel boots, it skips all hardware and firmware checks. Make sure no warning messages appear. All file systems are supposed to be clean if they had been unmounted.

17.6 How to Configure Kexec for Routine Reboots

Kexec is often used for frequent reboots. For example, if it takes a long time to run through the hardware detection routines or if the start-up is not reliable.

Note that firmware and the boot loader are not used when the system reboots with Kexec. Any changes you make to the boot loader configuration will be ignored until the computer performs a hard reboot.

17.7 Basic Kdump Configuration

You can use Kdump to save kernel dumps. If the kernel crashes, it is useful to copy the memory image of the crashed environment to the file system. You can then debug the dump file to find the cause of the kernel crash. This is called core dump.

Kdump works similarly to Kexec (see Chapter 17, Kexec and Kdump). The capture kernel is executed after the running production kernel crashes. The difference is that Kexec replaces the production kernel with the capture kernel. With Kdump, you still have access to the memory space of the crashed production kernel. You can save the memory snapshot of the crashed kernel in the environment of the Kdump kernel.

Tip
Tip: Dumps over Network

In environments with limited local storage, you need to set up kernel dumps over the network. Kdump supports configuring the specified network interface and bringing it up via initrd. Both LAN and VLAN interfaces are supported. Specify the network interface and the mode (DHCP or static) either with YaST, or using the KDUMP_NETCONFIG option in the /etc/sysconfig/kdump file.

Important
Important: Target File System for Kdump Must Be Mounted During Configuration

When configuring Kdump, you can specify a location to which the dumped images will be saved (default: /var/crash). This location must be mounted when configuring Kdump, otherwise the configuration will fail.

17.7.1 Manual Kdump Configuration

Kdump reads its configuration from the /etc/sysconfig/kdump file. To make sure that Kdump works on your system, its default configuration is sufficient. To use Kdump with the default settings, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the amount of memory needed for Kdump by following the instructions in Section 17.4, “Calculating crashkernel Allocation Size”. Make sure to set the kernel parameter crashkernel.

  2. Reboot the computer.

  3. Enable the Kdump service:

    root # systemctl enable kdump
  4. You can edit the options in /etc/sysconfig/kdump. Reading the comments will help you understand the meaning of individual options.

  5. Execute the init script once with sudo systemctl start kdump, or reboot the system.

After configuring Kdump with the default values, check if it works as expected. Make sure that no users are currently logged in and no important services are running on your system. Then follow these steps:

  1. Switch to the rescue target with systemctl isolate rescue.target

  2. Unmount all the disk file systems except the root file system with:

    root # umount -a
  3. Remount the root file system in read-only mode:

    root # mount -o remount,ro /
  4. Invoke a kernel panic with the procfs interface to Magic SysRq keys:

    root # echo c > /proc/sysrq-trigger
Important
Important: Size of Kernel Dumps

The KDUMP_KEEP_OLD_DUMPS option controls the number of preserved kernel dumps (default is 5). Without compression, the size of the dump can take up to the size of the physical RAM memory. Make sure you have sufficient space on the /var partition.

The capture kernel boots and the crashed kernel memory snapshot is saved to the file system. The save path is given by the KDUMP_SAVEDIR option and it defaults to /var/crash. If KDUMP_IMMEDIATE_REBOOT is set to yes , the system automatically reboots the production kernel. Log in and check that the dump has been created under /var/crash.

17.7.1.1 Static IP Configuration for Kdump

In case Kdump is configured to use a static IP configuration from a network device, you have to add the network configuration to the KDUMP_COMMANDLINE_APPEND variable in /etc/sysconfig/kdump.

Example 17.1: Kdump: Example Configuration Using a Static IP Setup

The following setup has been configured:

  • eth0 has been configured with the static IP address 192.168.1.1/24

  • eth1 has been configured with the static IP address 10.50.50.100/20

  • The Kdump configuration in /etc/sysconfig/kdump looks like:

    KDUMP_CPUS=1
    KDUMP_IMMEDIATE_REBOOT=yes
    KDUMP_SAVEDIR=ftp://anonymous@10.50.50.140/crashdump/
    KDUMP_KEEP_OLD_DUMPS=5
    KDUMP_FREE_DISK_SIZE=64
    KDUMP_VERBOSE=3
    KDUMP_DUMPLEVEL=31
    KDUMP_DUMPFORMAT=lzo
    KDUMP_CONTINUE_ON_ERROR=yes
    KDUMP_NETCONFIG=eth1:static
    KDUMP_NET_TIMEOUT=30

Using this configuration, Kdump fails to reach the network when trying to write the dump to the FTP server. To solve this issue, add the network configuration to KDUMP_COMMANDLINE_APPEND in /etc/sysconfig/kdump. The general pattern for this looks like the following:

KDUMP_COMMANDLINE_APPEND='ip=CLIENT IP:SERVER IP:GATEWAY IP:NETMASK:CLIENT HOSTNAME:DEVICE:PROTOCOL'

For the example configuration this would result in:

KDUMP_COMMANDLINE_APPEND='ip=10.50.50.100:10.50.50.140:10.60.48.1:255.255.240.0:dump-client:eth1:none'

17.7.2 YaST Configuration

To configure Kdump with YaST, you need to install the yast2-kdump package. Then either start the Kernel Kdump module in the System category of YaST Control Center, or enter yast2 kdump in the command line as root.

Screenshot of the YaST Kdump Module
Figure 17.1: YaST Kdump Module: Start-Up Page

In the Start-Up window, select Enable Kdump.

The values for Kdump Memory are automatically generated the first time you open the window. However, that does not mean that they are always sufficient. To set the right values, follow the instructions in Section 17.4, “Calculating crashkernel Allocation Size”.

Important
Important: After Hardware Changes, Set Kdump Memory Values Again

If you have set up Kdump on a computer and later decide to change the amount of RAM or hard disks available to it, YaST will continue to display and use outdated memory values.

To work around this, determine the necessary memory again, as described in Section 17.4, “Calculating crashkernel Allocation Size”. Then set it manually in YaST.

Click Dump Filtering in the left pane, and check what pages to include in the dump. You do not need to include the following memory content to be able to debug kernel problems:

  • Pages filled with zero

  • Cache pages

  • User data pages

  • Free pages

In the Dump Target window, select the type of the dump target and the URL where you want to save the dump. If you selected a network protocol, such as FTP or SSH, you need to enter relevant access information as well.

Tip
Tip: Sharing the Dump Directory with Other Applications

It is possible to specify a path for saving Kdump dumps where other applications also save their dumps. When cleaning its old dump files, Kdump will safely ignore other applications' dump files.

Fill the Email Notification window information if you want Kdump to inform you about its events via e-mail and confirm your changes with OK after fine tuning Kdump in the Expert Settings window. Kdump is now configured.

17.8 Analyzing the Crash Dump

After you obtain the dump, it is time to analyze it. There are several options.

The original tool to analyze the dumps is GDB. You can even use it in the latest environments, although it has several disadvantages and limitations:

  • GDB was not specifically designed to debug kernel dumps.

  • GDB does not support ELF64 binaries on 32-bit platforms.

  • GDB does not understand other formats than ELF dumps (it cannot debug compressed dumps).

That is why the crash utility was implemented. It analyzes crash dumps and debugs the running system as well. It provides functionality specific to debugging the Linux kernel and is much more suitable for advanced debugging.

If you want to debug the Linux kernel, you need to install its debugging information package in addition. Check if the package is installed on your system with:

tux > zypper se kernel | grep debug
Important
Important: Repository for Packages with Debugging Information

If you subscribed your system for online updates, you can find debuginfo packages in the *-Debuginfo-Updates online installation repository relevant for openSUSE Leap 42.3. Use YaST to enable the repository.

To open the captured dump in crash on the machine that produced the dump, use a command like this:

crash /boot/vmlinux-2.6.32.8-0.1-default.gz \
/var/crash/2010-04-23-11\:17/vmcore

The first parameter represents the kernel image. The second parameter is the dump file captured by Kdump. You can find this file under /var/crash by default.

Tip
Tip: Getting Basic Information from a Kernel Crash Dump

openSUSE Leap ships with the utility kdumpid (included in a package with the same name) for identifying unknown kernel dumps. It can be used to extract basic information such as architecture and kernel release. It supports lkcd, diskdump, Kdump files and ELF dumps. When called with the -v switch it tries to extract additional information such as machine type, kernel banner string and kernel configuration flavor.

17.8.1 Kernel Binary Formats

The Linux kernel comes in Executable and Linkable Format (ELF). This file is usually called vmlinux and is directly generated in the compilation process. Not all boot loaders support ELF binaries, especially on the AMD64/Intel 64 architecture. The following solutions exist on different architectures supported by openSUSE® Leap.

17.8.1.1 AMD64/Intel 64

Kernel packages for AMD64/Intel 64 from SUSE contain two kernel files: vmlinuz and vmlinux.gz.

  • vmlinuz This is the file executed by the boot loader.

    The Linux kernel consists of two parts: the kernel itself (vmlinux) and the setup code run by the boot loader. These two parts are linked together to create vmlinuz (note the distinction: z compared to x).

    In the kernel source tree, the file is called bzImage.

  • vmlinux.gz This is a compressed ELF image that can be used by crash and GDB. The ELF image is never used by the boot loader itself on AMD64/Intel 64. Therefore, only a compressed version is shipped.

17.8.1.2 POWER

The yaboot boot loader on POWER also supports loading ELF images, but not compressed ones. In the POWER kernel package, there is an ELF Linux kernel file vmlinux. Considering crash, this is the easiest architecture.

If you decide to analyze the dump on another machine, you must check both the architecture of the computer and the files necessary for debugging.

You can analyze the dump on another computer only if it runs a Linux system of the same architecture. To check the compatibility, use the command uname -i on both computers and compare the outputs.

If you are going to analyze the dump on another computer, you also need the appropriate files from the kernel and kernel debug packages.

  1. Put the kernel dump, the kernel image from /boot, and its associated debugging info file from /usr/lib/debug/boot into a single empty directory.

  2. Additionally, copy the kernel modules from /lib/modules/$(uname -r)/kernel/ and the associated debug info files from /usr/lib/debug/lib/modules/$(uname -r)/kernel/ into a subdirectory named modules.

  3. In the directory with the dump, the kernel image, its debug info file, and the modules subdirectory, start the crash utility:

    tux > crash VMLINUX-VERSION vmcore

Regardless of the computer on which you analyze the dump, the crash utility will produce output similar to this:

tux > crash /boot/vmlinux-2.6.32.8-0.1-default.gz \
/var/crash/2010-04-23-11\:17/vmcore

crash 4.0-7.6
Copyright (C) 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008  Red Hat, Inc.
Copyright (C) 2004, 2005, 2006  IBM Corporation
Copyright (C) 1999-2006  Hewlett-Packard Co
Copyright (C) 2005, 2006  Fujitsu Limited
Copyright (C) 2006, 2007  VA Linux Systems Japan K.K.
Copyright (C) 2005  NEC Corporation
Copyright (C) 1999, 2002, 2007  Silicon Graphics, Inc.
Copyright (C) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002  Mission Critical Linux, Inc.
This program is free software, covered by the GNU General Public License,
and you are welcome to change it and/or distribute copies of it under
certain conditions.  Enter "help copying" to see the conditions.
This program has absolutely no warranty.  Enter "help warranty" for details.

GNU gdb 6.1
Copyright 2004 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
GDB is free software, covered by the GNU General Public License, and you are
welcome to change it and/or distribute copies of it under certain conditions.
Type "show copying" to see the conditions.
There is absolutely no warranty for GDB.  Type "show warranty" for details.
This GDB was configured as "x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu"...

      KERNEL: /boot/vmlinux-2.6.32.8-0.1-default.gz
   DEBUGINFO: /usr/lib/debug/boot/vmlinux-2.6.32.8-0.1-default.debug
    DUMPFILE: /var/crash/2009-04-23-11:17/vmcore
        CPUS: 2
        DATE: Thu Apr 23 13:17:01 2010
      UPTIME: 00:10:41
LOAD AVERAGE: 0.01, 0.09, 0.09
       TASKS: 42
    NODENAME: eros
     RELEASE: 2.6.32.8-0.1-default
     VERSION: #1 SMP 2010-03-31 14:50:44 +0200
     MACHINE: x86_64  (2999 Mhz)
      MEMORY: 1 GB
       PANIC: "SysRq : Trigger a crashdump"
         PID: 9446
     COMMAND: "bash"
        TASK: ffff88003a57c3c0  [THREAD_INFO: ffff880037168000]
         CPU: 1
       STATE: TASK_RUNNING (SYSRQ)
crash> 

The command output prints first useful data: There were 42 tasks running at the moment of the kernel crash. The cause of the crash was a SysRq trigger invoked by the task with PID 9446. It was a Bash process because the echo that has been used is an internal command of the Bash shell.

The crash utility builds upon GDB and provides many additional commands. If you enter bt without any parameters, the backtrace of the task running at the moment of the crash is printed:

crash> bt
PID: 9446   TASK: ffff88003a57c3c0  CPU: 1   COMMAND: "bash"
 #0 [ffff880037169db0] crash_kexec at ffffffff80268fd6
 #1 [ffff880037169e80] __handle_sysrq at ffffffff803d50ed
 #2 [ffff880037169ec0] write_sysrq_trigger at ffffffff802f6fc5
 #3 [ffff880037169ed0] proc_reg_write at ffffffff802f068b
 #4 [ffff880037169f10] vfs_write at ffffffff802b1aba
 #5 [ffff880037169f40] sys_write at ffffffff802b1c1f
 #6 [ffff880037169f80] system_call_fastpath at ffffffff8020bfbb
    RIP: 00007fa958991f60  RSP: 00007fff61330390  RFLAGS: 00010246
    RAX: 0000000000000001  RBX: ffffffff8020bfbb  RCX: 0000000000000001
    RDX: 0000000000000002  RSI: 00007fa959284000  RDI: 0000000000000001
    RBP: 0000000000000002   R8: 00007fa9592516f0   R9: 00007fa958c209c0
    R10: 00007fa958c209c0  R11: 0000000000000246  R12: 00007fa958c1f780
    R13: 00007fa959284000  R14: 0000000000000002  R15: 00000000595569d0
    ORIG_RAX: 0000000000000001  CS: 0033  SS: 002b
crash> 

Now it is clear what happened: The internal echo command of Bash shell sent a character to /proc/sysrq-trigger. After the corresponding handler recognized this character, it invoked the crash_kexec() function. This function called panic() and Kdump saved a dump.

In addition to the basic GDB commands and the extended version of bt, the crash utility defines many other commands related to the structure of the Linux kernel. These commands understand the internal data structures of the Linux kernel and present their contents in a human readable format. For example, you can list the tasks running at the moment of the crash with ps. With sym, you can list all the kernel symbols with the corresponding addresses, or inquire an individual symbol for its value. With files, you can display all the open file descriptors of a process. With kmem, you can display details about the kernel memory usage. With vm, you can inspect the virtual memory of a process, even at the level of individual page mappings. The list of useful commands is very long and many of these accept a wide range of options.

The commands that we mentioned reflect the functionality of the common Linux commands, such as ps and lsof. If you want to find out the exact sequence of events with the debugger, you need to know how to use GDB and to have strong debugging skills. Both of these are out of the scope of this document. In addition, you need to understand the Linux kernel. Several useful reference information sources are given at the end of this document.

17.9 Advanced Kdump Configuration

The configuration for Kdump is stored in /etc/sysconfig/kdump. You can also use YaST to configure it. Kdump configuration options are available under System › Kernel Kdump in YaST Control Center. The following Kdump options may be useful for you.

You can change the directory for the kernel dumps with the KDUMP_SAVEDIR option. Keep in mind that the size of kernel dumps can be very large. Kdump will refuse to save the dump if the free disk space, subtracted by the estimated dump size, drops below the value specified by the KDUMP_FREE_DISK_SIZE option. Note that KDUMP_SAVEDIR understands the URL format PROTOCOL://SPECIFICATION, where PROTOCOL is one of file, ftp, sftp, nfs or cifs, and specification varies for each protocol. For example, to save kernel dump on an FTP server, use the following URL as a template: ftp://username:password@ftp.example.com:123/var/crash.

Kernel dumps are usually huge and contain many pages that are not necessary for analysis. With KDUMP_DUMPLEVEL option, you can omit such pages. The option understands numeric value between 0 and 31. If you specify 0, the dump size will be largest. If you specify 31, it will produce the smallest dump. For a complete table of possible values, see the manual page of kdump (man 7 kdump).

Sometimes it is very useful to make the size of the kernel dump smaller. For example, if you want to transfer the dump over the network, or if you need to save some disk space in the dump directory. This can be done with KDUMP_DUMPFORMAT set to compressed. The crash utility supports dynamic decompression of the compressed dumps.

Important
Important: Changes to the Kdump Configuration File

You always need to execute systemctl restart kdump after you make manual changes to /etc/sysconfig/kdump. Otherwise, these changes will take effect next time you reboot the system.

17.10 For More Information

There is no single comprehensive reference to Kexec and Kdump usage. However, there are helpful resources that deal with certain aspects:

For more details on crash dump analysis and debugging tools, use the following resources:

  • In addition to the info page of GDB (info gdb), you might want to read the printable guides at http://sourceware.org/gdb/documentation/ .

  • A white paper with a comprehensive description of the crash utility usage can be found at http://people.redhat.com/anderson/crash_whitepaper/.

  • The crash utility also features a comprehensive online help. Use help COMMAND to display the online help for command.

  • If you have the necessary Perl skills, you can use Alicia to make the debugging easier. This Perl-based front-end to the crash utility can be found at http://alicia.sourceforge.net/ .

  • If you prefer to use Python instead, you should install Pykdump. This package helps you control GDB through Python scripts and can be downloaded from http://sf.net/projects/pykdump .

  • A very comprehensive overview of the Linux kernel internals is given in Understanding the Linux Kernel by Daniel P. Bovet and Marco Cesati (ISBN 978-0-596-00565-8).

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