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stackshot(1)              BSD General Commands Manual             stackshot(1)


     stackshot -- capture user and kernel space stack traces, using a kernel
     stack trace facility


     stackshot [-D] [-i] [-f path] [-n number] [-p pid] [-B size]


     The stackshot daemon is a diagnostic facility used to capture stack
     traces for each thread on the system, including both user space and ker-
     nel stacks. The resulting view of the system is internally consistent.
     This facility, especially when coupled with sysdiagnose(1) (described
     below) can be used to obtain an overview of the state of the system under
     abnormal conditions, such as hangs and UI unresponsiveness, with a few

     The stack snapshot is triggered upon pressing a special key chord. Two
     key chords are available: Control-Option-Command-Shift-Period triggers
     stackshot as well as sysdiagnose(1) in the default configuration. An
     alternate keychord, Control-Option-Command-Shift-Comma invokes stackshot
     and its stack symbolication facility alone.

     The daemon also triggers a stack snapshot upon reception of the SIGINFO

     Stack pages that are paged out are not captured--this caveat does not
     apply to kernel space stacks, which are wired.

     The following options are available:

     -D       Turn on debugging.

     -i       Do an immediate snapshot, and exit. Useful when invoked from the
              command line.

     -f path  Output the log information to the specified path.  This
              supercedes any preference configuration (see below).

     -n number
              Limit the number of snapshots taken; the default is 1.

     -p pid   Log the stack information for the specified process-ID only.

     -B size  Specify the size of the trace buffer; the default is 52 kilo-

     -t       Attempt to invoke sysdiagnose(1) This will also cause the stack-
              shot logfile to be symbolicated, with the symbolicated tracefile
              appended to /Library/Logs/stackshot-syms.log.

     -u       Attempt symbolication. Currently, this starts up a separate sym-
              bolicator thread, and signals that thread to begin symbolication
              using atos(1) when a snapshot is triggered. The current imple-
              mentation may take several seconds to perform the address-symbol
              translations, depending on the state of the system. The symboli-
              cated trace file is appended to:


     Symbolication (as with the -t or -u options, or the symstacks.rb script
     described below) is performed against the currently executing process
     images, which may have been either fully or partially stripped of debug-
     ging symbols. Additionally, kernel stacks are symbolicated against
     /mach_kernel, which typically has all local and debugging symbols
     stripped (as with "strip -S -x"). In either case, symbol matching may not
     always be accurate.  If in doubt, you may run the unstripped executable
     images, or symbolicate the trace file directly against the unstripped
     images using an alternate mechanism, such as gdb. The symstacks.rb script
     (see below) can take a "-k" argument, which specifies the location of an
     alternate kernel image to symbolicate with--this can be an unstripped
     kernel image. When filing bug reports, it is best to include both the
     trace file ("stackshot.log") and the symbolicated trace ("stackshot-


     The stackshot daemon is intended to be run by the launchd(8) super-dae-
     mon. The system may not be configured with stackshot enabled by default.
     launchctl(1) can be used to enable and disable this daemon.  stackshot
     reads configuration information from
     ~root/Library/Preferences/  It examines the
     following keys

     Trace File    Specifies the file to use.  The default is

     Trace Server  A dictionary containing ``Host'' (as a string) and ``Port''
                   (as an integer) keys, for a server.  If both a file and
                   server are specified, stackshot will attempt to use both.
                   The server is expected to do nothing other than accept a
                   connection, accept a stream of data, and write it to a file
                   of its choosing.

     Buffer Size   Specifies the size of the trace buffer.


     /usr/libexec/stackshot  The stackshot binary.
                             Preference file used for configuration informa-
                             Configuration file used by launchd(8).
     /usr/sbin/symstacks.rb  ruby(1) script to process the output of stackshot
                             and turn symbol addresses into symbol names. It
                             reads a stackshot trace file from standard input
                             or a file specified with "-f" , and writes the
                             symbolicated version to standard output, or to a
                             file specified with "-w". See caveats above
                             regarding accuracy of symbolication against
                             stripped images. The "-k" argument to the script
                             can specify the location of a kernel image, which
                             will be used for symbolication. The "-s" argument
                             forces the script to symbolicate kernel stacks
                             alone, which can be useful in conjunction with
                             the "-k" argument to symbolicate kernel stacks on
                             systems which differ from the one which generated
                             the trace file. Note that symbolication is per-
                             formed against currently running process images,
                             so the script must be executed on the same (or
                             identical) system for accuracy, and any processes
                             of interest must be currently executing.




     Certain types of deadlocks (especially driver/kernel level deadlocks) may
     prevent triggering stackshot when the hot-key combination is pressed.

     Depending upon the type of deadlock, there may be issues accessing the
     filesystem and/or network, preventing publication of the data once the
     traces are gathered.

     The daemon makes a minimal effort to ensure that the log file has space
     allocated, and does no processing afterwards. The aforementioned ruby(1)
     script can be used to translate addresses to symbols. It is up to the
     user to examine the file (and perhaps send it off to someone for debug-
     ging) afterwards.

     The symbolication is not perfect, and may benefit from human scrutiny or

Darwin                          August 10, 2011                         Darwin

Mac OS X 10.7 - Generated Wed Aug 10 15:44:09 CDT 2011
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