RFC: New system call for /proc information ?

The following message is a courtesy copy of an article
that has been posted to comp.os.linux.development.system as well.

[Posted to the Gnome Mailing List and to comp.os.linux.development.system]

Request for Comments:

Should we have a new system call under Linux which fetches information
from the /proc filesytem similar to the table() function of DEC OSF/1 ?

The whole story:

I am currently working on libgtop, a library that fetches information
from the proc filesystem for user processes. This library uses a suid
server on system where this is required. On Linux, the information are
fetched directly from the proc filesystem.

Now, I made some profilings (fetches 50000 times cpu, memory, swap,
uptime and loadavg):

Each sample counts as 0.01 seconds.
  %   cumulative   self              self     total           
 time   seconds   seconds    calls  ns/call  ns/call  name    
 91.86    348.03   348.03                             read
  3.07    359.67    11.64                             open
  0.67    362.22     2.55                             close
  0.16    363.55     0.62                             memset
  0.16    364.14     0.59                             __ipc
  0.03    368.84     0.12                             vsscanf (iovsscanf.c:31)
  0.01    374.49     0.05                             sscanf (sscanf.c:28)
  0.00    378.71     0.01                             semctl (semctl.c:32)
  0.00    378.73     0.01                             shmctl (shmctl.c:30)

granularity: each sample hit covers 4 byte(s) for 0.00% of 378.88 seconds

index % time    self  children    called     name
[1]     91.9  348.03    0.00                 read [1]
[2]      3.1   11.64    0.00                 open [2]
[3]      0.7    2.55    0.00                 close [3]
[5]      0.2    0.62    0.00                 memset [5]
[6]      0.2    0.59    0.00                 __ipc [6]
[35]     0.0    0.12    0.00                 vsscanf (iovsscanf.c:31) [35]
[96]     0.0    0.05    0.00                 sscanf (sscanf.c:28) [96]

You see, it spends a lot of time in read() which is only used to read the
data from the files in /proc. Well, basically one can say that these
timings are not so bad, normally a process periodically fetches those
information say 10 times a seconds which makes 36000 invocations per

This will make a total of about 250 seconds per hour or on even say:

``a program fetching those information at a frequency of 10 will take
  about 7 % of each hour just for reading files from /proc''.

Now look at timings of __ipc, they're about 350 times better 'cause this
is done using system calls.

So far so good, now look at how this is done on the DEC OSF/1 port of the
library (the following code is part of libgtop - GPL/LGPL):

CPU usage:
	struct tbl_sysinfo sysinfo;
	int ret;
	ret = table (TBL_SYSINFO, 0, (char *) &sysinfo, 1,
		     sizeof (struct tbl_sysinfo)); 

	buf->user = sysinfo.si_user;
	buf->nice = sysinfo.si_nice;
	buf->sys  = sysinfo.si_sys;
	buf->idle = sysinfo.si_idle;

Well, the table() command of DEC OSF/1 has may disadvantages, too - such
as requiring to be root to fetch any information about processes (well, for
each process that is not the current one).

But this works using system calls rather that reading and parsing files
and should be about as fast as getting the IPC information on Linux.

Under Linux, the current trend seems to be to move anything into the /proc
filesystem, but if you look at the timings, wouldn't it be better to also
implement a system call interface ?

Don't understand me wrong:

I *do not want* to *replace* the /proc filesystem - it's an excellent
idea to be able to fetch all information on the command line without
any program just a simple 'cat' - I want to *add* a *new* system call
to allow programmers to fetch those information faster that reading
from /proc.

To come to the point:

Is there any public interest in having a new system call under Linux
which can be used to fetch all information that are currently in the
/proc filesystem.

Basically, this system would be defined like this:

	asmlinkage int
	sys_table (int command, struct sysinfo_table *buf)

and be invoked like this:

	#include <sys/table.h>
	  struct sysinfo_cpu cpu;
	  struct sysinfo_mem mem;
	  ret = table (TABLE_CPU, &cpu);
	  if (ret == -1) return; /* or invoke any error handler */
	  ret = table (TABLE_MEM, &mem);
	  if (ret == -1) return;

What do you think, folks. Should we have such a system call under Linux ?
I can do the implementation of this system call, but I want to have some
feedback first.


   Martin Baulig - Angewandte Mathematik - Universitaet Trier
   baulig@castor.uni-trier.de, http://www.home-of-linux.com/
   Key: 1024-bit key with ID C8178435 created 1997/01/24 
   ID:  67 C1 84 A0 47 F5 11 C5  5F 68 4C 84 99 05 C3 92
   Finger baulig@math38 or fetch mykey.asc from the url above

[Date Prev][Date Next]   [Thread Prev][Thread Next]   [Thread Index] [Date Index] [Author Index]