Linux Kernel Debugging on Google-sized clusters

This paper will discuss the difficulties and methods involved in debugging the Linux kernel on huge clusters. Intermittent errors that occur once every few years are hard to debug and become a real problem when running across thousands of machines simultaneously. The more we scale clusters, the more reliability becomes critical. Many of the normal debugging luxuries like a serial console or physical access are unavailable. Instead, we need a new strategy for addressing thorny intermittent race conditions. This paper presents the case for a new set of tools that are critical to solve these problems and also very useful in a broader context. It then presents the design for one such tool created from a hybrid of a Google internal tool and the open source LTTng project. Real world case studies are included.

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