Re: trace_mark ugliness

From: Mathieu Desnoyers
Date: Thu May 22 2008 - 13:16:22 EST

* Steven Rostedt (rostedt@xxxxxxxxxxx) wrote:
> Mathieu,
> I'm working back on ftrace and I see that you have a lot of updates with
> the trace markers there. I'm going about cleaning up the code since some
> of the changes broke some of the functionality of ftrace.
> That's not a big deal, the breakage is easily fixed, and it's not taking
> much of my time. But I've been discussing the trace_mark itself with Peter
> Zijlstra and it still makes us cringe when we see it.

Hi Steven,

Thanks for the fix,

> The thing that bothers us the most is the force use of the "pretty print"
> interface. There's got to be a better way. I'd much rather see a
> file_marker.h file that has the interfaces defined, like what we have for
> sched.c.
> Where we have a sched_trace.h that has the defined prototypes. That is
> what the tracers should use too.
> The trace_mark should just have the string to find the tracer, but get rid
> of the "pretty print" aspect of it. Sorry, but the more I think about it,
> the nastier it seems. It forces all the users to do a va_start.
> I know you developed trace_mark for LTT, and that's great. But where I'm
> disagreeing is that you should not force all other users of trace_mark to
> conform to the LTT way when it can be easier to have LTT conform to a more
> generic way.
> Hence, this is what I propose.
> Remove the format part altogether, the format should be checked via the
> prototype. I know that you are afraid of changes to markers and that
> breaking code, but honestly, that is up to the developers of the tracers
> to fix. This should not be placed in the code itself. The markers
> shouldn't change anyway. If there is to be a check, it should be a compile
> time check (i.e. prototype compare) not a runtime check (as it is now).

Hrm, hrm, ok, let's brainstorm along these lines. So we would like to
have :
- Multiple tracers
- Each tracer can connect either to one or more different markers
- Each marker should support many tracers connected to it
- Checking for marker/tracer probe compatibility should be done via
function prototypes.

The main issue here seems to be to support multiple probes connected at
once on a given marker. With the current markers, I deal with this by
taking a pointer on the va_list and go through as many va_start/va_end
as required (one pair for each connected probe). By the way, the probes
does not have to issue va_start/end; marker.c deals with this.

Also, given that I want to support SystemTAP, it adds the following
constraint : we cannot expect the probes to be there at compile-time,
since they can be provided by modules built much later. Therefore, we
have to provide support for dynamic connection of an arbitrary number of
probes on any given marker.

So while I *could* remove the format string easily, it's the variable
argument list which I don't see clearly how to drop while still
providing flexible argument types -and- compile-time type verification.

What currently looks like (this is a simplified pseudo-code) :

void marker_probe_cb(const struct marker *mdata, void *call_private, ...)
va_list args;
int i;

for (i = 0; multi[i].func; i++) {
va_start(args, call_private);
multi[i].func(multi[i].probe_private, call_private,
mdata->format, &args);

Would have to be changed into specialized functions for each marker,
involving quite a lot of code to be generated, e.g. :

void marker_XXnameXX_probe_cb(const struct marker *mdata,
int arg1, void *arg2, struct mystruct *arg3)
int i;

for (i = 0; multi[i].func; i++)
multi[i].func(multi[i].probe_private, arg1, arg2, arg3);

That would imply that the struct marker_probe_closure, currently defined
as :

typedef void marker_probe_func(void *probe_private, void *call_private,
const char *fmt, va_list *args);

struct marker_probe_closure {
marker_probe_func *func; /* Callback */
void *probe_private; /* Private probe data */

Would have to be duplicated for each marker prototype so we can provide
compile-time check of these prototypes. The registration functions would
also have to be duplicated to take parameters which include all those
various prototypes. They are required so that kernel modules can provide
probes (e.g. systemtap and LTTng).

I don't really see how your proposal deals with these constraints
without duplicating much of the marker code on a per marker basis.
However, if we can find a clever way to do it without the code
duplication, I'm all in.

Ideas/insights are welcome,


> I like the rest of trace_mark, it is just this print format ugliness that
> boths me (and others). It is very clumsy to work with. There just has to
> be a better way here.
> As for LTT, you can make your own LTT wrapper to add the print formats for
> userspace. Lets not force this on other traces like ftrace that just
> wastes time hopping over the parameters that it doesn't need.
> Thanks,
> -- Steve

Mathieu Desnoyers
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