[llvm-dev] XRay: Demo on x86_64/Linux almost done; some questions.

Dean Michael Berris via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Thu Jul 7 20:16:28 PDT 2016

On Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 9:57 AM Reid Kleckner <rnk at google.com> wrote:

> On Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 12:31 AM, Dean Michael Berris via llvm-dev <
> llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org> wrote:
>> - What is the preferred way of controlling the behaviour of the runtime
>> library for something like XRay? Do the sanitizers check/use environment
>> variables or commandline-flags to control behaviour at runtime/init?
> The sanitizers each use a different, single environment variable:
> https://github.com/google/sanitizers/wiki/SanitizerCommonFlags
> IMO this works pretty well, and it supports multiple flags.

Awesome, thanks!

> - We would like to be able to trigger the patching/unpatching routines at
>> runtime in a portable manner. In Linux and other UNIX-like environments
>> signals (SIGUSR1 and SIGUSR2) might be good candidates for signalling the
>> tracing infrastructure to start/stop at user-controlled times (useful for
>> long-running servers). Is there a preference for this, or are there
>> alternatives in this space that might make better sense?
> No idea, maybe others have a better idea.

I suspect the bare minimum here would be to expose a single function that
could be invoked to enable or disable tracing. Then that could be called in
many different ways according to the application or through some supported,
configurable, with sane defaults for the platforms supported.

> - Currently we are using 'printf' for the logging, but could use a simple
>> thread-local in-memory log that flushes to disk when full. Any other
>> preferred ways of doing this?
> Should XRay use libc? Are there re-entrancy issues that we should be
> worried about? Most sanitizer code avoids calling libc directly, and most
> functionality (printf) is implemented internally. Maybe you should link
> sanitizer_common and use that.

I wondered about that, and I think avoiding libc as much as possible is a
good thing to do.

I'll work with sanitizer_common and re-use stuff from there instead, thanks
for the pointer. :)

> - Documentation for how to use/run XRay may need to live in a central
>> location, but since the changes to the LLVM pieces are currently in three
>> different places, are there suggestions for where the docs should live?
> The sanitizer docs are kind of spread out, unfortunately. There's some in
> clang, some on the github wiki, and probably some in LLVM. Personally I
> think the documentation should be in clang in rst.

I think following current practice is fine for consistency (i.e. document
the many different parts in many different places) but then have some sort
of high-level documentation to present the use-cases and user scenarios.
I'm fine with the user-facing documentation to be in clang too (i.e. how to
xray-enable your application/libraries, then how to configure, etc.).

Would love to know what others think about this particular point, but will
proceed to add documentation through clang in rst.

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