My problem is that there is a process (namely, postgresql stats
collector) that may have a bug inside. I was asked on the devel list to
send in some traces so they can figure out why it is in an infinite
loop, eating 100% CPU time.
It looks like the ptrace() syscall is the problem:
The ptrace() system call provides tracing and debugging
facilities. It allows one process (the tracing process) to
control another (the traced process). The tracing process must
first attach to the traced process, and then issue a series of
ptrace() system calls to control the execution of the process, as
well as access process memory and register state. For the
duration of the tracing session, the traced process will be
``re-parented'', with its parent process ID (and resulting
behavior) changed to the tracing process.
I imagine that also explains why a truss'ed program will die if you
kill -9 the truss process. It looks like the "reset parent when
trussing" behaviour appeared back in 1996 (sys_process.s r1.21). The
fix would probably be to store the pid of the tracing process somewhere
other than p_ppid...
However, when I start truss-ing this process, getppid() call changes
return value. The postgresql stats collector periodically checks if the
postmaster (its parent process) is alive or not, and will exit
unconditionally if the postmaster has died. After I start truss-ing, the
stats collector exits, making it impossible to debug the problem.
I'm not able to change the stats collector's source code, because I'm
not a C programmer, and because it is a production server and this would
be too risky.
I also tried to install strace, but it is not available on my platform
(amd64). I cannot move to i386, because (apparently) the problem exists
on this platform only. Is this a hopeless situation?
BTW I'm not an expert, but I believe that the process being debugged
should not see any difference, and it should not be able to tell if it
is debugged or not. I think this is a bug indeed.
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