[erlang-questions] Process heap inspector

Attila Rajmund Nohl <>
Mon Nov 28 11:02:28 CET 2011


Hello!

I really like the idea. But shouldn't this list include the message queue too?

2011/11/28 Michal Ptaszek <>:
> Hi everyone,
>
> This idea was born in my mind when debugging some complex, live system
> and trying to figure out where did all my memory go.
>
> So, when debugging live system/investigating suspicious memory consumption patterns
> or simply trying to understand better what's going on with our processes, it might be useful
> to take a peep at the data given process operates on.
>
> Right now it is possible to fetch internal gen_* processes state via sys:get_status, we can do
> some tracing (even using DTrace), we can also check erlang:process_info output and analyze
> it to become more or less familiar with what is the heap size of our suspect. Still, not all processes
> are OTP-compatible, and even if: we are going to get only "alive" data coming from process' state
> (not counting the outdated, not yet garbage collected terms). Also, process_info informs us only
> about allocated size of the heap, not about the actual usage (although the pre-allocated chunks
> are not available to the system, yet we might see how far we are from growing/shrinking it).
>
> Enough with introduction, let's focus on the actual meat: my idea was to create a new BIF,
> namely erlang:inspect_heap(Pid) that allows us to take a look at any process' heap, fetch the
> terms residing there and check their actual size. So, for instance:
>
>> ()12> S = erlang:inspect_heap(pid(0, 358, 0)).
>> [{[[<<"5">>]|
>>    284735200226724471091958640173737944785062822211005333957298336375301959844499896296764925551414319236776784],
>>   20},
>>  {{'$internal_queue_len',0},3},
>>  {{random_seed,{8236,26623,17360}},7},
>>  {{'$ancestors',[ejabberd_c2s_sup,ejabberd_sup,<0.40.0>]},9},
>>  {{'$initial_call',{gen,init_it,6}},7},
>>  {{state,{socket_state,tls,
>>                        {tlssock,#Port<0.3936>,#Port<0.3938>},
>>                        <0.357.0>},
>>          ejabberd_socket,#Ref<0.0.0.10120>,false,<<"2855118401">>,
>>          {sasl_state,"jabber",<<"pvp.net">>,[],
>>                      #Fun<ejabberd_c2s.0.67315917>,#Fun<ejabberd_c2s.1.67315917>,
>>                      #Fun<ejabberd_c2s.2.67315917>,cyrsasl_digest,
>>                      {state,5,<<"3598825873">>,
>>                             {<<"dupa">>,<<...>>},
>>                             <<>>,#Fun<ejabberd_c2s.0.67315917>,...}},
>>          true,
>>          {jid,<<"dupa">>,<<"pvp.net">>,<<"hubbard">>,<<"dupa">>,
>>               <<"pvp.net">>,<<"hubbard">>},
>>          <<"Nicknamedupa">>,
>>          {{1322,217197,749816},<0.358.0>},
>>          {1,{<<"dupa">>,nil,nil}},
>>          {1,{<<"dupa">>,nil,nil}},
>>          {1,{<<"dupa">>,nil,nil}},
>>          {xmlelement,<<"presence">>,[],
>>                      [{xmlcdata,<<...>>},{xmlelement,...},{...}|...]},
>>          {userlist,none,[],false}},
>>   564},
>>  {{limits,undefined},3},
>>  {{[],[]},3}]
>
> gives us a pretty good knowledge on <0.358.0>:
> • '$_' - OTP + gen_fsm2 process dictionary stuff, 3, 9, 7 words each
> • random_seed - obvious
> • {{limits,undefined},3} - internal limits for gen_fsm2 message queue, 3 words
> • {[], []} - most probably leftovers after fetching user's presence lists
> • {state, _} - gen_fsm2 state record - 564 words
> • {[[<<"5">>]|, ...} - sequential tracing tokens? (I'm not very familiar with that, I would
> say that's something from our rootset
>
> The implementation is rather simple: if the process we probe is not the caller one (we are not doing
> erlang:inspect_heap(self()), the data is copied from the callee heap to caller heap (to prevent from having
> cross-process references in variables), then we compute flat size of the each term we moved. Also, rootset
> is also included in the summary (i.e. process dict, seq tokens, etc.).
>
> Code is included in my inspect_heap OTP branch on:
>  github: https://github.com/paulgray/otp/tree/inspect_heap
>
> I am still a little bit hesitant about suspending process we probe: can anyone tell
> me if acquiring main process lock would be enough to keep its heap untouched during
> the call?
>
> Please, do point any bugs and tell me what do you think about the idea.
>
> Best regards,
> Michal Ptaszek
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