Profiling and Tracing Processes in Linux

This article shows how a Linux process can be traced and profiled. Using the “last” command as an example, profiling is used to explain why a process was very slow, and why another, very similar, process (dump-utmp) was much faster. “Tracing” here means seeing what a process is doing at any moment. “Profiling” means showing (afterwards) how long it spent doing different things.

Last” is a Linux command that reads and summarizes the utmp file, where login records are stored. I had a “last” command taking hours to complete because the utmp file had grown large (1.9 Gb). Used strace to see what it was doing. Continue reading