How to use kdump to debug kernel crashes
Kernel and kdump
Kdump is a kernel crash dumping mechanism and is very reliable because the crash dump is captured from the context of a freshly booted kernel and not from the context of the crashed kernel. Kdump uses kexec to boot into a second kernel whenever system crashes. This second kernel, often called the crash kernel, boots with very little memory and captures the dump image.
The first kernel reserves a section of memory that the second kernel uses to boot. Kexec enables booting the capture kernel without going through the BIOS, so contents of the first kernel's memory are preserved, which is essentially the kernel crash dump.
How to Use Kdump
Step 1: Configuring Kdump
- First, install the kexec-tools, crash and kernel-debuginfo packages. Use following command line to install the packages.
yum install --enablerepo=fedora-debuginfo --enablerepo=updates-debuginfo kexec-tools crash kernel-debuginfo
- Next, edit /boot/grub/grub.conf or /boot/grub2/grub.cfg and add the "crashkernel=128M" command line option. An example command line might look like this (for grub2, "kernel" is replaced by "linux"):
kernel /vmlinuz-3.1.4-1.fc16.x86_64 ro root=/dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00 rhgb LANG=en_US.UTF-8 crashkernel=128M
- Next, consider editing the kdump configuration file
/etc/kdump.conf. This will allow you to write the dump over the network or to some other location on the local system, rather than to the default location of /var/crash. For additional information, consult the mkdumprd man page and the comments in /etc/kdump.conf.
- Next, reboot your system
- Finally, active the kdump system service
/sbin/chkconfig kdump on
/sbin/service kdump start
- Above shown parameter reserves 128MB of physical memory. This reserved memory is used to preload and run the capture kernel.
- Init scripts take care of pre-loading the capture kernel at system boot time.
- It is recommended to either set up a serial console or switch to run level 3 (init 3) for testing purposes. The reason being that kdump does not reset the console if you are in X or framebuffer mode, and no message might be visible on console after system crash. You may also see screen corruption in graphics mode during capture.
- Capturing a crash dump can take a long time, especially if the system has a lot of memory. Be patient. The system will reboot after the dump is captured.
Step 2: Capturing the Dump
Normally kernel panic() will trigger booting into capture kernel but for testing purposes one can simulate the trigger in one of the following ways.
- Trigger through /proc interface
echo c > /proc/sysrq-trigger
- Trigger by inserting a module which calls panic().
The system will boot into the capture kernel. A kernel dump will be automatically saved in
/var/crash/<dumpdir> and the system will boot back into the regular kernel. The name of the dump directory will depend on date and time of crash. For example,
Step 3: Dump Analysis
Once the system has returned from recovering the crash, you may wish to analyse the kernel dump file using the
- First, locate the recent vmcore dump file:
find /var/crash -type f -mtime -1
- One you have located a vmcore dump file, call
crash /var/crash/2009-07-17-10\:36/vmcore /usr/lib/debug/lib/modules/`uname -r`/vmlinux
For more information on using the
crash tool, see #More Documentation.