Inspection and maintenance tools

Inspection and maintenance tools

Gerard Braad

Continued operation

Continued operation of an OpenStack environment is essential to our customers.

However, there are cases in which systems can react in unexpected or unforeseen ways.

The following tools described can help you in pinpointing issues.

Note: This is just a primer.

Divide them into categories

  • General tools
  • Disk
  • Network
  • Debug

General tools

These are tools that are used for general inspection, such as

  • system state
  • process monitoring
  • service control


ps - report process status

The ps program displays the currently-running processes.

ps - Basic examples

By default ps selects all processes with the same user ID and associated with the same terminal as the caller.

$ ps
3327 pts/1    00:00:00 bash
3328 pts/1    00:00:00 bash
5882 pts/1    00:00:00 ps

ps - Basic examples

To see every process running on the system, use the standard syntax:

$ ps -e
$ ps -ef

This does

  • select all processes
  • full listing

ps - Command line options

Note that ps -aux is different than ps aux.

  • UNIX options, which may be grouped and must be preceded by a dash (-)
  • BSD options, which may be grouped and must not be used with a dash
  • GNU long options, which are preceded by two dashes (--)

ps - Basic examples

To see every process on the system, using BSD syntax:

$ ps ax

This lifts the

  • "only yourself" restriction
  • "must have a tty" restriction

Display user-oriented format

$ ps aux

ps - Select the process you want

Combine using a grep

$ ps aux  | grep ssh

Note: this will also return the grep command.

ps - syntax

Try different options and see what works best for you.

$ man ps
$ info ps

ps - process tree

Process trees show the relationship between commands, by graphing how they are started.

$ ps axjf
$ ps -ejH

Alternative command is pstree.

Alternatives process

top (table of processes) is a task manager program. Several variants exist, like htop.

Especially htop is very detailed. Showing CPU core usage, free memory, etc.

Memory usage

To check if the system has enough memory available to run processes, you can check this with.

$ free -g

to display as gigabytes.

To update by interval

$ free -s 5

If the system is out-of-memory, strange behavior can occur, such as failing commands and unable to start new processes.

Alternatives free memory

The proc filesystem is a special filesystem in Unix-like operating systems that presents information about processes and other system information in a hierarchical file-like structure.

$ cat /proc/meminfo

See also: /proc/meminfo

Alternatives free memory

vmstat (virtual memory statistics) is a computer system monitoring tool that collects and displays summary information about operating system memory, processes, interrupts, paging and block I/O.

$ vmstat -s

Service management

Processes on Linux/Unix are owned by the init process, which primary role is to start processes according to a script from /etc/inittab or /etc/init.d

$ service

is responsible for running a System V init script.

To get an overview of all the services and if they are enabled

$ service --status-all

Restarting a service can be down with

$ service network restart

Enable services

Services are started according to their location in the runlevel folders.

To disable/enable a service

$ chkconfig disable NetworkManager
$ chkconfig enable network

It links the scripts in /etc/rc?.d accordingly.

Service management

systemctl is a linux command to control the systemd system and service manager.

To show all services you have to limit to showing the service unit.

$ systemctl list-units -t service --all

Note: omitting --all will only show active services.

Service interaction

To look at the details of a specific service

$ systemctl status sshd.service

You can enable and disable with

$ systemctl enable sshd.service


$ systemctl disable sshd.service

Service files

The files used by systemd to start a service process are located in /usr/lib/systemd/system.

Below is an example of the neutron-server.service file.

Description=OpenStack Neutron Server

ExecStart=/usr/bin/neutron-server --config-file /usr/share/neutron/neutron-dist.conf --config-dir /usr/share/neutron/server --config-file /etc/neutron/neutron.conf --config-file /etc/neutron/plugin.ini --config-dir /etc/neutron/conf.d/common --config-dir /etc/neutron/conf.d/neutron-server --log-file /var/log/neutron/server.log


Disk commands

  • basic commands
  • preparation tools
  • mapping
  • consistency check

Disk free

df - report file system disk space usage

df (disk free) is a standard Unix command used to display the amount of available disk space for file systems on which the invoking user has appropriate read access.

$ df -h

makes the output human-readable.

Disk usage

du - estimate file space usage

du (disk usage) is a standard Unix command used to estimate file space usage—space used under a particular directory or files on a file system.

$ du -h

makes the output human-readable.

Top 10 disk usage

Often just a few files hog your disk, such as log files or a large disk image.

$ du -a /var | sort -n -r | head -n 10

Hunt for hogs with ducks

$ alias ducks='du -cks * | sort -rn | head'
  • -c produces a grand total
  • -k same as block-size=1K
  • -s summarize, total for each argument


Hard disks can be divided into one or more logical disks called partitions. This division is described in the partition table found in sector 0 of the disk.

fdisk is a command-line utility that provides disk partitioning functions. It doesn't understand GUID Partition Table (GPT) and it is not designed for large partitions.

Warning: Don’t delete, modify, or add partitions unless you know what you
are doing. There is a risk of data loss!

fdisk - Basic usage

With the following command you can list all partitions.

$ fdisk -l

To modify partitions you can use the following command.

$ fdisk [device]

Alternatives fdisk

  • sfdisk
  • cfdisk
  • parted

Note: avoid running different commands while performing edits as they can have differences in the way they write/store the data.

List partitions

If you only need to list partitions, just doing

$ cat /proc/partitions

would probably be enough. This is also what we will be using in the remainder of the slides when listing partitions.


The Logical Volume Manager (LVM) provides logical volume management for the Linux kernel.

It is implemented as a device mapper target.

LVM overview


LVM usecases

  • Managing large hard disk farms by allowing disks to be added and replaced without downtime or service disruption, in combination with hot swapping.
  • On small systems (like a desktop at home), instead of having to estimate at installation time how big a partition might need to be in the future, LVM allows file systems to be easily resized later as needed.
  • Performing consistent backups by taking snapshots of the logical volumes.
  • Creating single logical volumes of multiple physical volumes or entire hard disks, allowing for dynamic volume resizing.

Basic usage

Volume groups (VGs) can be resized online by absorbing new physical volumes (PVs) or ejecting existing ones.

Logical volumes (LVs) can be resized online by concatenating extents onto them or truncating extents from them. LVs can be moved between PVs.


  • four SATA disks, each 250G
  • to be dedicated for storage
  • separated in fileshare (450G), database (50G), backup (500G)

Note: this is just an example scenario. It is not suggested to deploy this layout in real as it provides no form of redundancy.

Partition the disks

Using fdisk we will create a new primary partition of type '8e'. We do this for each disk.

$ fdisk /dev/sdb
$ fdisk /dev/sdc

Note: we do not have to create partitions, but this is often what happens.

Create physical volumes

And create the Physical Volumes for the partitions we just created

$ pvcreate /dev/sdb1 /dev/sdc1 /dev/sdd1 /dev/sde1

You can check the creation of the physical volumes using pvdisplay.

Another way to learn about the physical volumes is to issue a pvscan.

Note: pvremove /dev/sdb1 will perform the opposite action.

Create Volume Group

After this is done, we will create the Volume Group

$ vgcreate storage /dev/sd[b-e]1

You can check the creation of the volume group using vgdisplay.

Another way to learn about the volume groups is to issue a vgscan.

Create Logical Volumes

Now we can create the actual logical volumes that represent the actual storage locations.

$ lvcreate -n fileshare -L +450G storage
$ lvcreate -n database -L +50G storage
$ lvcreate -n backup -L +500G storage

You can check the creation of the logical volumes using lvdisplay.

Another way to learn about the logical volumes is to issue a lvscan.

You will see devices mappings such as /dev/storage/fileshare, etc.

Modify Logical Volumes

Logical volumes can be modified using the following commands

  • lvremove
  • lvreduce
  • lvextend

Create filesystems

Logical volumes are just mapped devices and need to be provisioned with a filesystem. For example, you could use Ext3

$ mkfs.ext4 /dev/storage/fileshare
$ mkfs.ext4 /dev/storage/database
$ mkfs.ext4 /dev/storage/backup

After which we can mount our volumes

$ mkdir /media/fileshare /media/database /media/backup
$ mount /dev/storage/fileshare /media/fileshare
$ mount /dev/storage/database /media/database
$ mount /dev/storage/backup /media/backup

Now what

You can inspect if the storage is available using df -h. But also make sure you create the entries for these disks are in /etc/fstab.

/dev/storage/fileshare  /media/fileshare  ext4  defaults  0 0
/dev/storage/database   /media/database   ext4  defaults  0 0
/dev/storage/backup     /media/backup     ext4  defaults  0 0

Changing a disk

For instance, a disk is not working as expected and needs to be removed.

Prepare the disk

$ pvcreate /dev/sdf1

Extend the volume group with the new disk and move data over

$ vgextend storage /dev/sdf1
$ pvmove /dev/sdb1 /dev/sdf1

And remove the defective disk from the volume group

$ vgreduce storage /dev/sdb1
$ pvremove /dev/sdb1

after which the physical disk can be removed.

Unrecoverable disk

A disk has failed and a backup is not available. The data has to be considered lost, but we want to recover the data in the remaining disks.

Create the LVM meta data on the new disk using the old disk's UUID that pvscan displays.

$ pvcreate --uuid 42oKek-5zLS-ckbD-e7vJ-gB42-YyQY-hwTRSu /dev/sdd1

Now the volume group can be restored

$ vgcfgrestore storage
$ vgscan
$ vgchange -ay storage

after which the volume group should be available. Note: run a filesystem consistency check, such as fsck.ext4.

Corrupted LVM meta data

This should not happen often, but when it happens the Logical Volumes should also be considered as unreliable.

$ vgchange -ay storage

Will in this case it might show Checksum error and

Couldn't read volume group metadata.
Volume group storage metadata is inconsistent

The volume group will not activate.


If the disks are still inserted it would be possible to restore the metadata. Check if the physical volumes can still be found in the metadata.

$ pvscan

If so, it would be possible to restore the volume group

$ vgcfgrestore storage
$ vgchange -ay storage

Now the volumegroup should be available again.

Missing disk

If the pvscan does not find the disk.

Couldn't find device with uuid '42oKek-5zLS-ckbD-e7vJ-gB42-YyQY-hwTRSu'.

It is possible to replace the disk and recreate it using the same UUID. The solution is similar to replacing the disk as detailed earlier.

$ pvcreate --uuid 42oKek-5zLS-ckbD-e7vJ-gB42-YyQY-hwTRSu /dev/sdd1
$ vgcfgrestore storage
$ vgscan
$ vgchange -ay storage

After which you need to run a consistency check against the volume.


  • connectivity
  • diagnostic


On CentOS / RHEL and Fedora systems you can configure networm interfaces using a network configuration file.

$ vi /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0

Be sure to not use NetworkManager in our case, and use network. You can do this with:

$ systemctl disable NetworkManager
$ systemctl enable network
$ systemctl stop NetworkManager
$ systemctl start network

Verify this using

$ nmcli dev status


iproute2 is a collection of userspace utilities for controlling and monitoring various aspects of networking in the Linux kernel, including routing, network interfaces, tunnels, traffic control, and network-related device drivers.

"Most network configuration manuals still refer to ifconfig and route as the primary network configuration tools, but ifconfig is known to behave inadequately in modern network environments." - Source

Utilities provided by iproute2

Legacy utility Obsoleted by Note
ifconfig ip addr, ip link, ip -s Address and link configuration
route ip route Routing tables
arp ip neigh Neighbors
iptunnel ip tunnel Tunnels
nameif ifrename Rename network interfaces
ipmaddr ip maddr Multicast
netstat ip -s, ss, ip route Show various networking statistics

Check man ip for more information about the possibilities.

IP address

To check the IP address given to an interface, use the command

$ ip addr


$ ip a
1: lo: <LOOPBACK,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 65536 qdisc noqueue state UNKNOWN
    link/loopback 00:00:00:00:00:00 brd 00:00:00:00:00:00
    inet scope host lo
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
    inet6 ::1/128 scope host
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
2: eth0: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc pfifo_fast state UP qlen 1000
    link/ether fa:16:3e:27:c7:10 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
    inet brd scope global dynamic eth0
       valid_lft 76420sec preferred_lft 76420sec
    inet6 fe80::f816:3eff:fe27:c710/64 scope link
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever

Add/remove an IP address

Adding an IP address can be done using the command:

$ ip addr add dev eth0

And removing can be done using the command:

$ ip addr del dev eth0

Enable/disable a network interface

To enable a network interface use the command:

$ ip link set eth1 up

And disabling can be done using the command:

$ ip link set eth1 down

Manual page:

$ man ip link

Routing table

Routing table management is done using the ip route command.

To see the current routing table use the command:

$ ip route
default via dev eth0  proto static  metric 100 dev eth0  proto kernel  scope link  src  metric 100 dev br-ex  proto kernel  scope link  src

Add/remove static route

Static routes prevent traffic from passing through the default gateway. This way the best way to reach a destination can be given.

To add a static route:

$ ip route add via dev eth0

And to remove a static route:

$ ip route del

Persistent static routes

For CentOS / RHEL and Fedora a persistent static route can be configured via a network configuration file.

For example:

$ vi /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/route-eth0 via dev eth0

Default gateway

Default gateways can be configured per interface or globally.

$ ip route add default via

and can be removed using:

$ ip route del default

Persistent global gateway is configured in:

$ vi /etc/sysconfig/network

Otherwise specific gateways needs to be specified in the interface configuration file.

See also



Address Resolution Protocol is used to find the address of a network neighbor for an IPv4 address.

Whenever you try to ping an IP aadress on the network, your system has to turn that IP address into a MAC address. This involves using ARP to resolve the address.

If the IP address is not found in the ARP table, the system will then send a broadcast packet to the network using the ARP protocol to ask who has

ARP Table

Showing the ARP cache table can be done using the command:

$ ip neigh


$ ip n


arping is a tool for discovering and probing hosts on a computer network. It probes hosts on the attached network link by sending Link Layer frames using ARP request method addressed to a host identified by its MAC address of the network interface.

The command

$ arping -c 2 -I eth0

will make two requests over interface eth0 for the IP address.


$ arping -c 2 00:11:85:4c:de:af

will return the associated IP address for the given MAC address.


ping is a small utitlity to measure the reachability and round-trip time for a message to be sent and echoed back by a destination host. It uses a ICMP Echo Request message for this.

After just adding a default gateway for instance, you can verify whether the route is working properly:

$ ping

or using an IP address.

What happened

  1. Query the DNS server to obtain the IP address of the destination host. (For example:
  2. The destination address ( is not within the network range. In Layer-3 (IP header) the DESTINATION IP will be set as
  3. In Layer-2, the DESTINATION MAC address will be the filled in with the MAC address of the default gateway (’s MAC).

The network switch (L2) sends the packet to the default gateway since the destination MAC is that of the gateway.

Once the gateway receives the packet, based on its routing table, it will forward the packets further.

Useful options of ping

Limit the count of ping requests

$ ping -c

And flood the target with ping requests

$ ping -f

Useful options of ping

Using -i [number] you can change the interval before sending the next packet.

$ ping -i 10

Using -q the command will only print summary statistics:

$ ping -c 4 -q

The default packetsize is 56, using the -s option you can change the size of the ping packet.

$ ping -s 200

Pressing CTRL+| will print the statistics summary will the ping is still running.

Route of ping

Using -R you will see the route that is taken for a packet. Many hosts ignore or discard this option.

$ ping -R

traceroute (tracepath)

traceroute is a network diagnostic tool for displaying the route and measuring transit delays of packets on an IP network. This can help identify incorrect routing table definitions.

An alternative tool is tracepath. tracepath uses the sockets API, while traceroute manipulates raw packages for some of its functionality. Because of this, traceroute needs root privileges.

Note: ping only computes the final round-trip times for the destination.

Example use

$ traceroute
traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 60 byte packets
 1 (  2.604 ms  2.601 ms  2.563 ms


 7 (  1.969 ms  1.927 ms  1.656 ms
 8 (  2.177 ms  1.787 ms  1.677 ms

The first column shows the TTL of the probe.


tcpdump is a common command line packet analyzer. It allows the user to display TCP/IP and other packets being transmitted or received.

To install

$ yum install -y tcpdump

And run:

$ tcpdump

You will have to terminate with ^C when you have received enough packets.

Examples of tcpdump

Use the -i parameter to listen on all interfaces

$ tcpdump -i any


$ tcpdump -i eth0

to listen on eth0 only.

Examples of tcpdump

In some case you would not want to see resolved hostnames. You can prevent this with -n. Using -nn will also prevent from resolving port names.

$ tcpdump -nS

Using -S will print absolute sequence numbers.

Examples of tcpdump

To see the content of the packets you can use

$ tcpdump -nnvvXSs 0

And to see specifically ICMP packets, do:

$ tcpdump -nnvvXSs 0 icmp
15:12:21.498049 IP (tos 0x0, ttl 64, id 56897, offset 0, flags [none], proto ICMP (1), length 84) > ICMP echo reply, id 11105, seq 13, length 64
        0x0000:  4500 0054 de41 0000 4001 ddde 0a01 1645  E..T.A..@......E
        0x0010:  689a 35a9 0000 e191 2b61 000d 5566 2057  h.5.....+a..Uf.W
        0x0020:  0000 0000 b66f 0800 0000 0000 1011 1213  .....o..........
        0x0030:  1415 1617 1819 1a1b 1c1d 1e1f 2021 2223  .............!"#
        0x0040:  2425 2627 2829 2a2b 2c2d 2e2f 3031 3233  $%&'()*+,-./0123
        0x0050:  3435 3637                                4567

Examples of tcpdump expressions

Using expressions you can filter out various types of traffic to find that you are looking for.

Using host you can look for an IP address (or hostname):

$ tcpdump host

Using src and dst you only see traffic from source or destination:

$ tcpdump src
$ tcpdump dst

Using net you can capture an entire network using CIDR notation:

$ tcpdump net

Using proto you can look for tcp, udp, and icmp specific traffic:

$ tcpdump icmp

Examples of tcpdump expressions Continued

Using port you can limit to a specific port:

$ tcpdump port 21

Using src port and dst port you can filter based on the source or destination port:

$ tcpdump src port 1025 
$ tcpdump dst port 80

They can also be combined to create complex expressions

$ tcpdump src port 1025 and tcp 
$ tcpdump udp and src port 53

Using portrange you can filter for a range of ports instead:

tcpdump portrange 21-23

Examples of tcpdump expressions Continued

Using less and greater (or <, >, <=) you can filter for packet size: Packet Size Filter // only see packets below or above a certain size (in bytes)

$ tcpdump less 64
$ tcpdump > 1024

But it can be even more expressive using:

  • and or &&
  • or or ||
  • not or !


$ tcpdump -nvX src net and dst net or

to shows traffic from 192.168/16 that will go to 10/8 or 172.16/16.

Writing to file

tcpdump is quite similar to tshark and is standard included with many distributions. However, you can capture packets and analyze them later in WireShark or snort.

$ tcpdump -i eth0 -s 65535 -w output.dmp

or you can read it back using tcpdump using

$ tcpdump -r output.dmp

Use case of tcpdump

How to diagnose if an IP address is in use by two machines.

$ tcpdump -lni any arp & ( sleep 1; arp -d; ping -c1 -n )

Which does

  • tcpdump listens for ARP packets
    • -l is linebuffered to see the data while capturing
    • -n do not convert addresses to resolved names
    • -i any on any interface
    • for arp proto packets
  • every second
    • remove the ARP entry
    • ping for the target

You would receive an is-at from two possible hosts, each with their own MAC address.


iftop is a command-line monitoring tool that shows a list of network connections and their bandwidth usage.

It is not a standard tool that is available for CentOS 7. However, it can be found in EPEL for EL6.


brctl is used to set up, maintain, and inspect the ethernet bridge configuration in the linux kernel. A bridge is used to connect different networks of ethernets together, so that these ethernets will appear as one to the connected interfaces.

To show all current instances of ethernet bridges use the command:

$ brctl show

Add/remove bridge

$ brctl addbr br0
$ brctl delbr br0

Add/remove interface ports

Traffic coming on any of the ports will be forwarded to the other ports transparently, so that the bridge is invisible to the rest of the network.

$ brctl addif br0 eth1
$ brctl delif br0 eth1


If you encounter issues with filtered packets on the bridge, verify that you have disabled netfilter.

$ cat /etc/sysctl.conf
net.bridge.bridge-nf-call-ip6tables = 0
net.bridge.bridge-nf-call-iptables = 0
net.bridge.bridge-nf-call-arptables = 0

Else it is possible that IP firewall rules apply to frames on a bridge, because they will be filtered by the FORWARD rule.


lsof - list open files

Is a tool to report a list of all open files and the processes that opened them.

The command

$ lsof

will list all open files belonging to all active processes.

Examples lsof

Using a filespecifier you can limit this to a single file or a directory.

$ lsof /var/log/

Using -c you can specify a process name and list the opened files by the process starting with that name:

$ lsof -c ssh

Using -u you can list files opened by a specific user (the ^ prefix excludes this user):

$ lsof -u keystone

And -p shows the files opened by a specific Process ID

$ lsof -p 1

Examples lsof

Using -t you can return the Process ID associated with open files from that process.

$ lsof -t /var/log/glance/api.log

For instance, you can combine this to kill all processes associated with a particular user:

$ kill -9 `lsof -t -u glance`

it will all processes opened by glance which has files opened.

Examples lsof

If you specify more than one options they will be OR-ed.

$ lsof -c ssh -u admin

does not return the expected result for process ssh and user admin. To solve this, you need to add the -a option to do an AND operation.

$ lsof -c ssh -u admin -a

Network connections using lsof

Using the -i option we can list opened network connections.

$ lsof -i

Including :<n> will show command that have opened a specific port:

$ lsof -i :22

Note: this is very similar to using netstat -nap

And udp or tcp will show connections based on the protocol:

$ lsof -i tcp
$ lsof -i udp


strace - trace system calls and signals

strace is a diagnostic and debugging utility for Linux. It is used to monitor interactions between processes and the Linux kernel.

This is very helpful when you do not have the source code of the program that has a problem.

Examples strace

The simplest invocation is to use:

$ strace ls
execve("/bin/ls", ["ls"], [/* 72 vars */]) = 0
brk(0)                                  = 0xcb6000
access("/etc/", F_OK)      = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
write(1, "lib  workspace\n", 15lib  workspace
) = 30
close(1)                                = 0
munmap(0x7f64c2eab000, 4096)            = 0
close(2)                                = 0
exit_group(0)                           = ?
+++ exited with 0 +++

which will show all the system calls used by the ls command.

Examples strace

You can also trace for a specific system call:

$ strace -e open ls

It is possible to specify several system calls at once:

$ strace -e open,access,read ls

Examples strace

You can also trace an existing running process. For this you need the Process ID of the program.

$ ps -C mysqld

In this case you will probably see many processes. Attach to the last one for instance.

$ strace -p 8642


$ strace -p `pidof mysqld`

The execution will be shown until you break out using ^C.

Examples strace

Below you will find other useful options.

The -r option which allows you to print relative execution time for each system call:

$ strace -r ls

While the -c option will generate a statistics report:

$ strace -c ls

Important option

Often processes will create a subprocess. To make sure you can trace them use the -f option.

This will trace child processes as they are created by currently traced processes as a result of the fork system call.

Saving a trace

Usinf the -o option you can save a trace to a file:

$ strace -o trace.txt ls

This can then be shared or attached to a bug report.

Combining strace and lsof

Using strace and lsof it is possible to debug process hangs.

There are several ways a proces can be blocked, for instance:

  • it is blocked waiting for a resource that isn't available
  • or is in an infinite loop


When you strace a running application, you might see

select(1, [0], NULL, [0], NULL

Which is a system call

select() and pselect() allow a program to monitor multiple file descriptors,
waiting until one or more of the file descriptors become "ready"

If you want to know what this file is, run:

$ lsof -p <PID> -ad 1


Debugging is a the process of finding and resolving defects that prevent correct operation of a computer process.

Many different techniques exist and deserve a presentation in itself.

  • synchronous
  • asynchronous (concurrency)


pdb is an interactive source code debugger for Python programs, offered as a module.

  • breakpoints
  • single stepping
  • inspection of stack frames
  • source code listing
  • evaluation of code

Run pdb

To run the python debugger you can call it on your scriptfile

$ pdb [scriptfile]


$ python -m pdb [scriptfile]


Below are several pdb commands to deal with the inspection and execution of the scriptfile.

Command Shorthand Description
break b Set a breakpoint.
continue c Continue with program execution.
exit q Abort the program.
help h Print list of commands or help for a given command.
list l Show source code around current line.
return r Continue execution until the current function returns.
step s Continue and break on next instruction.
next n Similar to step, but does not enter function call)
p Evaluate expression and print the result

Note: print will be evaluated by the interpreter. pp is pretty print.


There are different ways to specify a breakpoint

  • break [scriptfile]:[linenumber]
  • break [module].[functionname]
  • break [location], [condition]

You can enable and disable beakpoints using their identifier. ignore will ignore the breakpoint at the next crossing, while clear will remove a breakpoint entirely.

More advanced options

You can also use commands to execute commands at the breakpoint and jump to change the execution flow.

For more information: pdb

Add pdb

A good way to start the debugger is to start the debugging session from the script itself. For this you need to add a call to set_trace().

Anywhere in your code you could do:

import pdb; pdb.set_trace()

and start the execution of the script from a terminal. You might have to check the service file to see which command is started.


GNU Debugger. The standard debugger for the GNU operating system.

  • help
  • run
  • step
  • break [file]:[linenumber], [function]
  • continue
  • next (will not enter function call)
  • print
  • watch
  • backtrace
  • ...

Attach to running process

$ gdb attach <PID>
Kernel debugging can be done using the `crash` tool.


If one thread stops for a breakpoint, or for some other reason, and another thread is blocked in a system call, then the system call may return prematurely.

Another useful tool

ss - another utility to investigate sockets

It dump socket statistics. It allows showing information similar to netstat.

  • -l show listening sockets
  • -p show process using socket
  • -e show exteneded information