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Month: December 2014

We built DTrace to solve problems; at the start, the problems we understood best were our own. In the Solaris Kernel Group we started by instrumenting the kernel and system calls, the user/kernel boundary. Early use required detailed knowledge of kernel internals. As DTrace use grew—within the team, in Sun and then beyond—we extended DTrace to turn every function and every instruction in user programs into probes. We added stable points of instrumentation both in the kernel and in user-land so that no deep knowledge of program or kernel internals would be required.

Oracle has been evolving their port of DTrace to OEL, prioritizing the stable points of instrumentation most relevant for the widest group of users. While DTrace started with providers that unlocked tens of thousands of points of instrumentation, the Oracle port enables a small number of comprehensible probes. Since I last tried out their port they’ve fixed some bugs, and added support for stable I/O and process probes, as well as user-land static probes.

[root@screven ~]# uname -a
Linux screven 3.8.13-16.el6uek.x86_64 #1 SMP Fri Sep 20 11:54:42 PDT 2013 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux
[root@screven ~]# cat test.d
provider test {
        probe foo(int);
[root@screven ~]# cat main.c
#include "test.h"

main(int argc, char **argv)
        return (0);
[root@screven ~]# dtrace -h -s test.d
[root@screven ~]# gcc -c main.c
[root@screven ~]# dtrace -G -s test.d main.o
[root@screven ~]# gcc -o main main.o test.o
[root@screven ~]# dtrace -c ./main -n 'test$target:::foo{ trace(arg0); }'
dtrace: description 'test$target:::foo' matched 1 probe
CPU     ID                    FUNCTION:NAME
  0    643                         main:foo               100

USDT, as it’s called, was a relatively late addition in the initial development of DTrace. We added it initially to support probes in user-land locking primitives (the plockstat(1M) command uses it just as the lockstat(1M) command was converted to use kernel SDT probes). We were right in thinking that USDT would be useful for providing probes in infrastructure software such as Apache and MySQL; we didn’t anticipate how incredibly valuable it would be for supporting dynamic languages such as javascript (including Node), python, java, and bash.

USDT built on both the learning and code from years of DTrace development. By effectively starting there, OEL benefits from a decade of integrations and investigations. DTrace users on all platforms will benefit from the growth of our community. I look forward to seeing the new investigations on OEL and new integrations in all types of applications.

In the frenzied, insular world of a Silicon Valley startup it can be easy to lose perspective on the broader community in which we live and work. Among the great hackathon projects to come from our bi-annual engineering event was the idea of “Angel Sharks”, a group of volunteers at Delphix who provide opportunities for volunteering and community giving. Earlier this year, this group organized volunteer events around the launch of new Delphix releases.

We just completed our first “Week of Giving”. While many at Delphix already donate their time and money, the Angel Sharks organized giving and corporate matching. Our theme for 2014 was hunger; we focused on the SF-Marin Food Bank as our featured organization.

Over 50% of Delphix employees participated worldwide; a high bar that I’d like to see us exceed next year. Some activities of note were volunteering at food banks in the SF Bay Area, Atlanta and Boulder, toy donations to Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army Giving Tree, and the Starlight Foundation, and a silent auction that both brought the Delphix community closer together and raised over $3,000 for the SF-Marin Food Bank. More than $21,000 was raised in total with 30% of employees making matching requests in just three weeks! The Week of Giving brought a great energy and community spirit to the company; I’m excited to have giving as part of our DNA as a young company.

The SF-Marin Food Bank feeds 225,000 people annually with 47m lbs of food, and 96% of donations go directly to their programs. Donations are down for the year while need has increased by 1m lbs. You can donate here. I volunteered twice this year with my Delphix colleagues, and once with my wife and son (8 years old); I highly recommend it for both corporate and family outings.

Happy holidays from the Delphix family!


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