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Subject[0/1][ANNOUNCE] nproc v2: netlink access to /proc information
I am submitting nproc, a new netlink interface to process information,
for review and a possible inclusion in mainline.

The problems with /proc as far as parsers go are widely known. Parsing is
both difficult and slow (including a more detailed discussion by reference:
http://marc.theaimsgroup.com/?l=linux-kernel&m=109361019528995). What
follows is an overview showing how nproc fares in those areas.

Roger

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Clean Interface
---------------
The main motivation was to clean up the mess that are /proc semantics
and provide a clean interface for tools to gather process information.
Nproc does not add new knowledge to the kernel (some redundancy remains
until routines are shared with /proc). Instead, it offers existing
information in a form that works for tools. In fact, a tool can pass
the buffer read from the netlink directly as a va_list to vprintf
(strings require a trivial extra operation).

A small user-space app can present a view like the one below based on
zero prior knowledge about the fields the kernel has to offer. While I
don't envision that as common for tools in the future, it demonstrates
what can be done with little effort. This is not a mock-up, by the way,
the nprocdemo tool exists (lines truncated to fit 80 chars).

MemFree |PageSize|Jiffies |nr_dirty|nr_writeback|nr_unstable|[...]
____page|____byte|__________|____page|________page|_______page|[...]
7546| 4096| 1917203| 1| 0| 0|[...]
PID |Name |VmSize |VmLock |VmRSS |VmData |VmStack |[...]
_____|_______________|_____KiB|_____KiB|_____KiB|_____KiB|_____KiB|[...]
1|init | 1340| 0| 468| 144| 4|[...]
2|ksoftirqd/0 | 0| 0| 0| 0| 0|[...]
3|events/0 | 0| 0| 0| 0| 0|[...]
4|khelper | 0| 0| 0| 0| 0|[...]
5|netlink/0 | 0| 0| 0| 0| 0|[...]
6|kacpid | 0| 0| 0| 0| 0|[...]
23|kblockd/0 | 0| 0| 0| 0| 0|[...]
24|khubd | 0| 0| 0| 0| 0|[...]
36|pdflush | 0| 0| 0| 0| 0|[...]
37|pdflush | 0| 0| 0| 0| 0|[...]
38|kswapd0 | 0| 0| 0| 0| 0|[...]
39|aio/0 | 0| 0| 0| 0| 0|[...]
671|kseriod | 0| 0| 0| 0| 0|[...]
686|reiserfs/0 | 0| 0| 0| 0| 0|[...]
851|udevd | 1320| 0| 360| 144| 4|[...]
9159|syslogd | 1516| 0| 588| 272| 16|[...]
9382|gpm | 1540| 0| 468| 152| 4|[...]
9452|klogd | 1468| 0| 432| 276| 8|[...]
9478|hddtemp | 1692| 0| 848| 472| 16|[...]
9486|login | 2152| 0| 1204| 392| 36|[...]
9487|agetty | 1340| 0| 488| 156| 4|[...]
9488|agetty | 1340| 0| 488| 156| 4|[...]
9489|agetty | 1340| 0| 488| 156| 4|[...]
9490|agetty | 1340| 0| 488| 156| 4|[...]
9491|agetty | 1340| 0| 488| 156| 4|[...]
9598|zsh | 4748| 0| 1688| 532| 20|[...]
[...]
Performance
-----------
I measured the time to write a complete process table dump for 5000
tasks to /dev/null 100 times for "ps ax" and nprocdemo.
ps ax (5 process fields):
real 1m0.472s
user 0m18.227s
sys 0m28.545s

nprocdemo (automatic field discovery, reading and printing 11 process
fields + 9 global fields):
real 0m9.064s
user 0m2.491s
sys 0m1.554s

The details of resource usage for the benchmarks show that /proc based
tools are suffering badly from the inefficiency of three(!) conversions
between data and strings (kernel produces strings from numbers, app
converts back to numbers, app converts numbers again to strings for
printing).

For nproc based tools, only one conversion remains.

# ps ax > /dev/null
CPU: CPU with timer interrupt, speed 0 MHz (estimated)
Profiling through timer interrupt
samples % image name app name symbol name
6524 14.0613 vmlinux ps number
4828 10.4058 libc-2.3.3.so ps _IO_vfscanf_internal
2740 5.9056 vmlinux ps vsnprintf
2689 5.7956 vmlinux ps proc_pid_stat
1807 3.8946 vmlinux ps __d_lookup
1676 3.6123 libc-2.3.3.so ps ____strtol_l_internal
1335 2.8773 vmlinux ps link_path_walk
1133 2.4420 libproc-3.2.3.so ps status2proc
1094 2.3579 vmlinux ps render_sigset_t
1088 2.3450 libc-2.3.3.so ps _IO_vfprintf_internal
1086 2.3407 libc-2.3.3.so ps __GI_strchr
885 1.9075 libc-2.3.3.so ps ____strtoul_l_internal
800 1.7242 vmlinux ps pid_revalidate
581 1.2522 vmlinux ps proc_pid_status
551 1.1876 libc-2.3.3.so ps _IO_sputbackc_internal
529 1.1402 vmlinux ps system_call
524 1.1294 libc-2.3.3.so ps _IO_default_xsputn_internal
476 1.0259 libc-2.3.3.so ps __i686.get_pc_thunk.bx
466 1.0044 vmlinux ps get_tgid_list
442 0.9526 vmlinux ps atomic_dec_and_lock
373 0.8039 vmlinux ps dput
311 0.6703 libc-2.3.3.so ps __GI___strtol_internal
274 0.5906 vmlinux ps __copy_to_user_ll
272 0.5862 vmlinux ps path_lookup
270 0.5819 vmlinux ps strncpy_from_user
262 0.5647 libproc-3.2.3.so ps escape_str
259 0.5582 vmlinux ps page_address
249 0.5367 libc-2.3.3.so ps __GI_____strtoull_l_internal
244 0.5259 libc-2.3.3.so ps __GI_strlen
# nprocdemo > /dev/null
CPU: CPU with timer interrupt, speed 0 MHz (estimated)
Profiling through timer interrupt
samples % image name app name symbol name
1142 15.9208 libc-2.3.3.so nprocdemo _IO_vfprintf_internal
1072 14.9449 vmlinux vmlinux __task_mem
611 8.5181 libc-2.3.3.so nprocdemo _IO_new_file_xsputn
445 6.2038 vmlinux vmlinux nproc_pid_fields
244 3.4016 vmlinux vmlinux get_wchan
235 3.2762 vmlinux nprocdemo __copy_to_user_ll
233 3.2483 vmlinux vmlinux find_pid
215 2.9974 vmlinux vmlinux finish_task_switch
208 2.8998 vmlinux nprocdemo netlink_recvmsg
158 2.2027 vmlinux nprocdemo __wake_up
153 2.1330 libc-2.3.3.so nprocdemo __find_specmb
149 2.0772 vmlinux nprocdemo finish_task_switch
146 2.0354 libc-2.3.3.so nprocdemo __i686.get_pc_thunk.bx
114 1.5893 vmlinux vmlinux get_task_mm
94 1.3105 vmlinux nprocdemo skb_release_data
87 1.2129 vmlinux vmlinux nproc_ps_do_pid
76 1.0595 vmlinux vmlinux alloc_skb
72 1.0038 vmlinux nprocdemo system_call
68 0.9480 libc-2.3.3.so nprocdemo _IO_padn_internal
65 0.9062 libc-2.3.3.so nprocdemo read_int
64 0.8922 libc-2.3.3.so nprocdemo __recv
63 0.8783 vmlinux vmlinux netlink_attachskb
61 0.8504 vmlinux nprocdemo kfree
56 0.7807 vmlinux vmlinux __kmalloc
55 0.7668 vmlinux vmlinux schedule
47 0.6552 vmlinux vmlinux __task_mem_cheap
42 0.5855 vmlinux nprocdemo sys_socketcall
40 0.5576 vmlinux nprocdemo fget
37 0.5158 nprocdemo nprocdemo nproc_get_reply
EOT
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