Table of Contents


The Graph View

  • Zooming In
  • Zooming Out
  • Graph Markers
  • Graph Cursor
  • Graph Plots
  • Task Plots
  • CPU Plots
  • The List View

  • Selecting an event
  • Graph follows toggle
  • Filters

  • Task Filter
  • Event Filter
  • Advance Event Filter
  • Introduction

    KernelShark is a front end reader of trace-cmd(1) output. "trace-cmd record" and "trace-cmd extract" create a trace.dat (trace-cmd.dat(5)) file. kernelshark can read this file and produce a graph and list view of its data.

    The application has two main viewing areas split by a paned divider. The top half is a graphical display of the data and the bottom half is a list view of each event. Underneath the menu bar is the graph information area:

    Graph Info Area

    The graph information line displays the timestamp of various locations. The Pointer: shows the timestamp of where the mouse pointer is. The Cursor: is the timestamp of the cursor location. To select a cursor location, double click on the graph. Marker A is set with a left mouse click and Marker B is set with a with a left mouse click while holding down the shift key.

    The graph is broken into two parts, the plot title section:

    Plot Title

    and the plot area:

    The plot area contains the data of the given plot, where plots can be per CPU or per task. The top of the plot area shows a timeline. The numbers in the timeline are seconds. The time in the timeline is taken from the timestamps within the trace.dat file which are architecture dependent. The time usually is the timestamp from when the system started.

    Below the graph is the list area.

    List Area

    The list area contains the Page of the list. The list can hold a maximum of 1 million entries per page. If the trace data contains more than a million entries, then the list will have more than one page.

    The list area also contains a search field to search for elements in the list.

    The Graph View

    The graph view of kernelshark shows graphical plots of the data stored in the trace.dat file. The data plots are per CPU or per task. When there are too many events within the resolution of the graph, the plots will appear as a rainbow colored bar. To make more sense out of the graphs, you need to zoom into a given location to see the details of that time frame more clearly.

    Zooming In

    To zoom in, left mouse click and hold and then drag the mouse right, release to zoom. When you click the left mouse button a line will appear and stay at that location. When you move the mouse to the right, another line appears and will follow the mouse. When you release the mouse button, the area between the two lines become the new width of the screen. That is, the graph zooms in until the lines match the width of the screen. This allows you to zoom into a specific location.

    The area that you selected will now become the new width of the viewable area. The smaller the selection, the deeper the zoom. Note, that you must select 10 pixels to zoom in. Less than 10 pixels will cancel the zoom. You can continue zooming in until you get more details.

    To save on resources, when zooming in, the beginning and end of the full trace may not be reachable with the horizontal scroll bar. If a plot contains no events within the reachable area, then the line will be empty, as CPU 1 is in the above image.

    CPU 0 shows two tasks that were running. One task is given a pink/red color and the other a green color. The think colored horizontal bar represents a task other than idle was running. The small lines that jet out of the bar are where events occur.

    If you zoom in enough such that a single event has enough room between itself and other events, the type of event and the name and PID of the task that was running will appear over the event.

    Zooming Out

    To zoom back out, left mouse click and hold and then drag the mouse left. This time the width between the two lines will become a single pixel. The farther apart the lines are, the farther the zoom out will be. Zoom out will stop at the width of the full trace.

    When the mouse is over an event, a tool tip will appear showing the event name, the latency data, the event info, the timestamp and the task name and task process ID.

    Graph Markers

    There are two markers that can be placed on the graph as well as a cursor. Marker A is set by a left mouse click. When a marker is set, the graph info area will be updated. Marker A is represented by a green line:

    To set Marker B, press and hold the shift key and click the left mouse button. Marker B will show up in red.

    When both the A and B markers are set, the graph info area will show the timestamp of where the A and B markers are, as well as the difference between the two. All timestamps are in seconds, with a resolution of microseconds.

    Graph Cursor

    Double clicking on the graph will set the cursor. The cursor is a blue line, and when it is set, it will also select the event in the list view that is the closest event at the timeline of where the cursor was selected.

    The above shows that list item 217448 (sys_exit) was the closest event to where the cursor was selected.

    Note that setting the cursor with double click will also set Marker A.

    Graph Plots

    The graph data is represented by plots. The data on the plots is either CPU specific or task specific. If it is CPU specific, then the data is the timeline of events that happened on a given CPU (which CPU is shown in the plot title area). If the plot is task specific, then the timeline of events is for the given task regardless of what CPU it was on at the time. The task name is also shown in the plot title area.

    By default, all the CPUs within the loaded trace.dat file are plotted. There are two ways to plot a task. One way is to right mouse click over a displayed task in the graph and select the plot option. This will add the task plot directly underneath the CPU plot that the task was on where the right mouse click took place. The other way is to use the Plots menu.

    Task Plots

    Selecting the "Tasks" menu item will bring up a dialog with all the tasks that were found in the trace data.

    Selecting a task in this dialog will add the task plot to the bottom of the graph area. Unselecting a task in this dialog will remove the plot.

    The colors in the task plots are different depending on which CPU the task was on at the time. The CPU plots change colors as different tasks run on the CPU, and the task plots change color depending on what CPU the task is running on. This makes it easy to see how much a task bounces around the CPUs. Zooming in on a task plot also shows some more characteristics of the task.

    The hollow green bar that is shown in front of some events in the task plot represents when the task was woken up from a sleeping state to when it actually ran. The hollow red bar between some events shows that the task was preempted by another task even though that task was still runnable.

    Since the hollow green bar shows the wake up latency of the task, the A,B markers can be used to measure that time.

    The above shows that the epiphany-browser with PID 28072 had a 479 microsecond wake up latency. The same can be done with the preemption latency.

    CPU Plots

    Selecting the "CPUs" plot menu item pops up a dialog that shows the available CPUs that can be plotted.

    Removing a selected CPU and hitting "Apply" will remove that CPU plot.

    The List View

    The list view is in the bottom half paned window and can be expanded or shortened with the paned handle.

    The top of the list view contains the list area which has the list page, list search, and "graph follows" toggle button. If more than a million events are stored in the list, then each set of million will be on a different page.

    The columns of the list are:

    The list search can find an event based on the contents in a row. Select a column, a match criteria and the content to match to find the next row that matches the search. The match criterion is one of the following:

    The search will find the next event that has the matching data within the column.

    Selecting an event

    A single click on a row will select the row, but a double click on a row will select that row as well as set the graph cursor to the location of that event. If the plot that the event is on is not visible then the graph will adjust its vertical view area to show the plot with the selected event. This has no effect on graph markers.

    Graph follows toggle

    When the "graph follows" toggle is set, then even a single click on a row will move the graph cursor. With the mouse focus on the list, using the keyboard up and down arrow keys will move the selection of the list as well as the graph cursor.


    The amount of data that can be stored in a trace.dat file can be enormous. To make any sense out of some traces, it may be required to only display various events. The same can be true about tasks. Kernelshark has filters for tasks as well as for events. The task filter affects both the graph and the list, but the graph and list each have a separate event filter.

    Task Filter

    The task filter is currently set by a right mouse click over an event on either the graph or the list view, and by selecting the option to add or remove the task to/from the task filter. The tasks within the task filter are the same for both the graph and list, but each can be enabled separately.

    There are two types of task filters:

    If there are any tasks within the Task Filter then only those tasks will be displayed when the filter is enabled. Any task within the Hide Tasks filter will not be displayed, even if that same task is in the Task Filter.

    When either filter contains a task, the filter can be enabled.

    When a task is not in the "Task Filter", the pop up will show the menu item "Add task". When a task is in the "Task Filter" the pop up will show "Remove task".

    When a task is not in the "Hide Tasks", the pop up will show the menu item "Hide task". When a task is in the "Hide Tasks", the pop up will show "Show task".

    The scheduling events

    The events "sched_switch", "sched_wakeup", and "sched_wakeup_new" are treated differently by the task filter. Because these events deal with two tasks (previous and next, waker and wakee), if either of the tasks should be visible then that event is visible regardless if the other task should be hidden. This may seem confusing when an event that is hidden shows up in the Task column.

    Event Filter

    The graph and list view each have their own event filter. The event filters are enabled through the Filter menu on the top menu-bar.

    Selecting either the "list events" or "graph events" will bring up the event dialog with the events that are visible selected.

    Note: these do not mean that the events exist in the trace.dat file. They are selected if the events are not to be hidden. Events that do not exist in the trace will not be displayed regardless of whether or not they are filtered.

    Clicking on "All" or any of the systems will either deselect all events underneath or select all events underneath depending on the previous state of the box being selected. By deselecting all events, it makes it easier to enable just a few individual events.

    If it is desired that the graph and list view have the same events filtered, then just set up the desired filtering in one and then synchronize the other through the filter menu.

    Advanced Event Filter

    Filtering on events may not be enough. The ability to filter on the content of individual events may be needed. In order to accomplish this, the advanced event filtering is used. Selecting the "list advanced event" or "graph advanced event" from the Filter menu will pop up the advanced event filtering dialog. The graph and list view each have their own advanced event filter.

    The "Filter:" entry at the bottom of the dialog is where the advanced filter is written. Above that is helper buttons to pick events, operations and event fields. The syntax of the filter is:

       SYSTEM := any system name
       EVENT  := any event name
       BOOL   := '&&' | '||'
       CMP    := '>' | '<' | '==' | '>=' | '<=' | '!='
       STRCMP := '==' | '!=' | '=~' | '!~'
       RVALUE := integer | FIELD
       STRVALUE := string (double quoted value) | FIELD
       EXPR   := FIELD OP RVALUE | '(' EXPR ')' | EXPR OP EXPR
       FIELD  := a field name of an event
       OP     := '+' | '-' | '*' | '/' | '<<' | '>>' | '&' | '!'

    Spaces are ignored. The example used in the dialog figure:

      sched/sched_switch : next_prio < 100 && (prev_prio > 100 && prev_pid != 0)

    The sched/ is not necessary because without it, the filter will process all events named sched_switch, and since there is only one event that has that name, including the sched/ is redundant.

    The next_prio, prev_prio and prev_pid are all event fields of the sched_swich event.

    If just sched was used and the /sched_switch was omitted, it would still be a valid filter, but it would behave differently. By just specifying a system, the filter will run on all events within that system. When a field is encountered that does not belong to an event, then that compare will be set to false.

       sched : prev_pid != 0
       sched : !(prev_pid == 0)

    The above two filters are not equivalent. They are for the sched_switch event, but not for the other events. The first filter will return false for all events that do not contain the prev_pid field, but the second filter would return true for all events that do not contain that field. Again, if the event does not contain a field, just that compare will be evaluated to false, not the entire expression. This means for events that do not have the prev_pid field, the above filters would be equivalent to:

       sched : FALSE
       sched : !(FALSE)

    Letting filters contain fields that do not belong to an event be valid allows for various tricks where two events can share the same filter.

       sched_switch, sched_wake.* : next_pid == 1 || pid == 1

    The schedule events that have next_pid and not pid as a field will just compare the first part of the || and those events with pid but without next_pid will be compared against the second part of the ||

    Notice that event names in the filter can be regular expressions.

    String fields can have regular expressions used in their comparing if =~ or !~ are used.

       sched_switch : next_comm =~ "^events/[23]$"

    The available regular expressions are described in regex(7).

    Note: When adding an advanced filter, all non-advanced filters (added by the event filter dialog box) will be removed, and only the advanced filters will stay. But non-advanced filters may be added after advanced filters have been. The events that have advanced filters will be shaded in the event filter dialog:

    Just do not click on the advanced filter box and hit "Apply" unless you want to remove the advanced filter. Non-advanced filters can now be selected without affecting the advanced filters.

    When advanced filters already exist when the advanced filter dialog box pops up, they will be listed in the area at the top of the dialog. Although one filter may have been written, the list will be per event. A check box is to the left of the filter. When checked, the filter will be deleted if the "Apply" button is selected.