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Monday, September 05, 2005


Systemtap Review

I noticed the following review of Systemtap:

Link To Review

I did not think it was entirely fair. I lurk on the Systemtap mailing list, as I feel it is an important performance project for Linux. I will quickly go through some of the major issue James raises:

Distribution War

I have not noticed a distribution war and I am not sure what this comment was based on. It is true that most of the Developers are using Fedora Core 4 with certain Rawhide elements included in their environment. I assume this is a reference to the following email sent to James by Ulrich Drepper:

Systemtap Mail Archive

This is hardly a distribution war rather a defence of the elfutils package that Ulrich wrote and now supports. All Ulrich pointed out was that the distribution James was using had a very old copy of binutils that needed updating, he was not told to move to a RedHat release or discouraged from using Debian.

If Its Not RPM – Don’t Deal With It

I believe this comment revolves around an email exchange with Roland McGrath and Ulrich Drepper:

Systemtap Mail Archive

In response to further problems experienced by James, it transpired he had used a source tar ball supplied with the Systemtap CVS drop cinocrrectly. Roland McGrath helped James out and Ulrich Drepper states that people should not distribute source tar balls (as the Systemtap was doing in this case with elfutils) but should distribute source RPMs so that developers and maintainers did not waste their time dealing with build logic.

Lack of Net Install

The use of Kickstart is clearly covered in the base documentation for RedHat releases in much the way that you can derive how to use Jumpstart for OpenSolaris from the official Solaris documentation. This documentation is located at:

RHEL Manuals

Or if you prefer (or don’t like RedHat, as James seems not to) you can get help from the how-to section of Linux Documentation Project:


After Main Tries I Got A CVS Drop to Build

The CVS repository is the head of the Development tree. It is in a state of flux, as it is a Development tree and depending what hour of the day you grab your tree depends on how stable it might be. This is normal and if you wish a stable version of Systemtap then there is a version in the Rawhide tree that runs against the original FC4 kernel, so you can take a base FC4 install and apply this systemtap RPM (if I remember correctly you will need to move to version 1.11 of elfutils and it must be that exact version).


I sympathise with James but Systemtap is currently under Development and if you wish to download the CVS repository then it should run (with varying bugs) against any kernel that includes RelayFS, kprobes & kretprobes. In addition you will need the latest version of elfutils which is usually available from the Rawhide repository, if not email the list and Ulrich Drepper will usually spin that latest version to the repository for the external project participants.

The suggestion for a HOW-TO is a fair one. Once I conclude my current whitepaper work I will see if I have time to pull one together.

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