Prospect: A Sampling System Profiler for Linux Design, Implementation, and Internals

Prospect is a developer's profiling tool for the Linux operating system. Prospect is an instruction-pointer-sampling flat profiler for obtaining code profiles in a non-intrusive way. One can obtain profiles (both symbol-level and assembly-level) without undue requirements on the target application. For example, there is no need to specially instrument, rebuild, or relink the application. In fact, the only requirement is that the application not be stripped.

Prospect has a history on the HPUX operating system where it was invented in 1988. In the last year's time frame, we have moved this profiler to Linux with the aid of the sampling module oprofile released under GPL by John Levon while at the Victoria University of Manchester, UK. We describe the interface to oprofile, the data structures and algorithms used to collect and store the instruction pointer and system event data, and the symbol profile generation.

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