Summarizing system call activity on Linux systems

Linux has a guadzillion debugging utilities available. One of my favorite tools for debugging problems is strace, which allows you to observe the system calls a process is making in realtime. Strace also has a “-c” option to summarize system call activity:

$ strace -c -p 28009

Process 28009 attached
Process 28009 detached
% time     seconds  usecs/call     calls    errors syscall
------ ----------- ----------- --------- --------- ----------------
 78.17    0.001278           2       643           select
 14.80    0.000242           1       322           read
  7.03    0.000115           0       322           write
------ ----------- ----------- --------- --------- ----------------
100.00    0.001635                  1287           total

The output contains the percentage of time spent in each system call, the total time in seconds, the microseconds per call, the total number of calls, a count of the number of errors and the type of system call that was made. This output has numerous uses, and is a great way to observe how a process is interacting with the kernel. Good stuff!

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