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Strace 101: Basic Guide to Getting Started with the Program

Posted by Jamison on 07 01 2016.

Although cPanel is definitely one of the best control panels out there, there are some cases wherein users are faced with problems that they cannot seem to solve, because the logs lack the information they need. If you are one of these individuals, you should know that there is a very useful diagnostic tool you should take advantage of. This is in the form of strace.

 

To get started in using this tool, it is important to understand what it is, how it works, and how it can help you.

 

What Strace Is All About

 

Basically, the term “strace” is the shortened term for “system call trace”, a type of program. It works by attaching itself to a process, after which, it begins to track signals and system calls it sends and receives.

 

Although strace comes with some limitations, you should not underestimate it, as it can be a great asset when it comes…

Although cPanel is definitely one of the best control panels out there, there are some cases wherein users are faced with problems that they cannot seem to solve, because the logs lack the information they need. If you are one of these individuals, you should know that there is a very useful diagnostic tool you should take advantage of. This is in the form of strace.

 

To get started in using this tool, it is important to understand what it is, how it works, and how it can help you.

 

What Strace Is All About

 

Basically, the term “strace” is the shortened term for “system call trace”, a type of program. It works by attaching itself to a process, after which, it begins to track signals and system calls it sends and receives.

 

Although strace comes with some limitations, you should not underestimate it, as it can be a great asset when it comes to determining the real cause of many issues. You should also know that many cPanel users utilize this tool so that they can find out a problem is occurring. In other words, through its use, you have greater chances of figuring out why something is failing or is about to fail.

 

The Details Strace Can Provide You With

 

One of the reasons behind the popularity of strace among cPanel users is because it can deliver the following details that logs usually fail to:

 

  • Files that have been opened, exited, and attempted.
  • Network connections that have been opened, exited, and attempted.
  • Data that was read from the files and network connections
  • Details written to the files and network connections.

 

The Limitations of Strace

 

As mentioned above, there are some things that strace cannot do. One is that it cannot make you privy to the exact activities taking place within the process. In addition, this is not a debugging program. Lastly, it does not have any knowledge of the variables being used in the process.

 

Things to Do Prior to Using Strace

 

While strace is definitely an asset and a powerful tool for troubleshooting processes, there are some things you need to do first before you use it. Basic troubleshooting is one of them, which should include reviewing the log files and getting more information about the error messages you are getting.

 

Furthermore, it is a must that you can reproduce the problem you are experiencing, as strace needs to capture it. One more thing is that you have to figure out exactly which process you should strace.

 

Situations Wherein Strace Is Not Applicable

 

Strace can be attached to many normal processes, except during the following situations:

 

  • When there is already a debugger attached to the process.
  • When there is another tracing program already attached to the process.
  • When ownership of the process is not under you.
  • When there are special types of protections surrounding the system, which prevent the program from being able to gather details.

 

Yes, strace is not the most powerful diagnostic tool out there, but it does not mean that it is not useful. In fact, it can be very helpful, so make sure that you include this in your must-have troubleshooting essentials.