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Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9 Essentials Book now available.

Purchase a copy of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9 (RHEL 9) Essentials

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9 Essentials Print and eBook (PDF) editions contain 34 chapters and 298 pages

Preview Book

Chapter 1. Introduction

SystemTap is a tracing and probing tool that allows users to study and monitor the activities of the operating system (particularly, the kernel) in fine detail. It provides information similar to the output of tools like netstat, ps, top, and iostat; however, SystemTap is designed to provide more filtering and analysis options for collected information.
For system administrators, SystemTap can be used as a performance monitoring tool for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 or later. It is most useful when other similar tools cannot precisely pinpoint a bottleneck in the system, requiring a deep analysis of system activity. In the same manner, application developers can also use SystemTap to monitor, in finer detail, how their application behaves within the Linux system.

1.1. Documentation Goals

SystemTap provides the infrastructure to monitor the running Linux system for detailed analysis. This can assist administrators and developers in identifying the underlying cause of a bug or performance problem.
Without SystemTap, monitoring the activity of a running kernel would require a tedious instrument, recompile, install, and reboot sequence. SystemTap is designed to eliminate this, allowing users to gather the same information by simply running user-written SystemTap scripts.
However, SystemTap was initially designed for users with intermediate to advanced knowledge of the kernel. This makes SystemTap less useful to administrators or developers with limited knowledge of and experience with the Linux kernel. Moreover, much of the existing SystemTap documentation is similarly aimed at knowledgeable and experienced users. This makes learning the tool similarly difficult.
To lower these barriers the SystemTap Beginners Guide was written with the following goals:
  • To introduce users to SystemTap, familiarize them with its architecture, and provide setup instructions for all kernel types.
  • To provide pre-written SystemTap scripts for monitoring detailed activity in different components of the system, along with instructions on how to run them and analyze their output.

  Published under the terms of the Creative Commons License Design by Interspire