Netconsole

Debugging Central

This page is part of the debugging series — pages with debugging details for a variety of Ubuntu packages.

Introduction

Sometimes it's hard to capture a kernel panic: You don't know how to reproduce the kernel panic and/or once you have rebooted your system, there are no clues in the logfiles. This is where netconsole might help out. Netconsole is a kernel module that logs kernel printk messages over UDP allowing debugging of problems where disk logging fails. This is just a techno-way of saying that the kernel messages will get send over the network in certain packets (UDP packets).

There are a couple of disadvantages though:

  • Since netconsole needs to send its UDP packets to some other host, you need to setup a "receiver" as well
  • Netconsole initializes when modules are loaded into the kernel. This doesn't allow capture of early kernel panics - for example when booting
  • The driver for the network card must support polling (netpoll api)
  • Only IP networks, UDP packets and ethernet devices are supported

Setup netconsole

This document will guide you through the steps to setup netconsole for Ubuntu {*}.

There are 5 steps to set it all up! Good luck! Funny :))

Step 1: Determine remote mac address

We need to know a mac address where the UDP packets will get sent to (also known as the "receiver"). This "receiver" can or can't be in the same subnet:

When "receiver" is in same subnet

In this example I would like to send the UDP packets to 192.168.1.103 (which is in the same subnet as the sender is).

 pet@sender:~$ ping -c 1 192.168.1.103 > /dev/null
 pet@sender:~$ arp -n 192.168.1.103
 Address                  HWtype  HWaddress           Flags Mask            Iface
 192.168.1.103            ether   08:00:46:d4:1d:82   C                     eth0

In this example 08:00:46:d4:1d:82 is the mac address we need.

When "receiver" isn't in the same subnet

Okay, when that's the case, you need to determine the default gateway first:

 pet@sender:~$ netstat -rn | grep ^0.0.0.0
 0.0.0.0         192.168.1.1     0.0.0.0         UG        0 0          0 eth0

In this case, that's 192.168.1.1.

Now, we need to figure out which mac address our default gateway has:

 pet@sender:~$ ping -c 1 192.168.1.1 > /dev/null
 pet@sender:~$ arp -n 192.168.1.1
 Address                  HWtype  HWaddress           Flags Mask            Iface
 192.168.1.1              ether   00:0f:66:5b:2a:3c   C                     eth0

In this example 00:0f:66:5b:2a:3c is the mac address we need.

Step 2: Change kernel options at boot time

Okay, let's assume you use grub as your bootloader. In this case grub will boot the kernel with (at least) the "quiet splash" options by default. We don't want that.

Grub 0.97: if you are using Ubuntu 9.04 or older

Just to be sure, create a backup of /boot/grub/menu.lst first:

 pet@sender:~$ sudo cp /boot/grub/menu.lst /root/menu.lst.backup

Now, open your favorite editor to edit /boot/grub/menu.lst.

  • For vi:
     sudo vi /boot/grub/menu.lst
  • For gedit (to edit this file within Gnome):
     gksudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst

Locate the line that starts with "# defoptions=quiet splash" (don't get mislead by the fact the line starts with a "#") and replace this line with "# defoptions=debug ignore_loglevel".

Tell grub to update accordingly:

 pet@sender:~$ sudo update-grub 

Grub 2: if you are using Ubuntu 9.10 or newer

Just to be sure, create a backup of /etc/default/grub first:

 pet@sender:~$ sudo cp /etc/default/grub /etc/default/grub.backup

Now, open your favorite editor to edit /etc/default/grub.

  • For vi:
     sudo vi /etc/default/grub
  • For gedit (to edit this file within Gnome):
     gksudo gedit /etc/default/grub

Locate the line GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash" and replace this line with GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="debug ignore_loglevel".

Tell grub to update accordingly:

 pet@sender:~$ sudo update-grub 

Step 3: Initialize netconsole at boot time

Okay, that went well. Three more steps to go!

Now we need to know the:

  • ip address and interface of the "sender" (use the following commands to determine these)
     ifconfig -a
  • ip address and mac address of the "receiver" (these were already gathered in #Step 1: Determine remote mac address)

In the following example, the part that starts with "netconsole=" is setup like this:

netconsole=<LOCAL_PORT>@<SENDER_IP_ADDRESS>/<SENDER_INTERFACE>,<REMOTE_PORT>@<RECEIVER_IP_ADDRESS>/<STEP_1_MAC_ADDRESS>

In this example, I use 6666 for both <LOCAL_PORT> and <REMOTE_PORT>.

 $ sudo sh -c 'echo netconsole >> /etc/modules'
 $ sudo sh -c 'echo options netconsole netconsole=6666@192.168.1.102/eth0,6666@192.168.1.103/08:00:46:d4:1d:82 > /etc/modprobe.d/netconsole.conf'

Step 4: Setup receiver

There are several ways to retrieve the netconsole packets:

Syslog-ng (Linux)

Easiest way probably is to boot the receiver with an Ubuntu LiveCD. Setup networking and gain shell access.

 pet@receiver:~$ sudo apt-get install syslog-ng 

Edit /etc/syslog-ng/syslog-ng.conf with your favorite editor and append these lines at the very end of the file:

 source net { udp(ip("0.0.0.0") port(6666)); };
 destination netconsole { file("/var/log/$HOST-netconsole.log"); };
 log { source(net); destination(netconsole); };

Now restart syslog-ng:

 pet@receiver:~$ sudo /etc/init.d/syslog-ng restart

Continue with #Step 5: Check if it works. Once you are done, the logging will be in /var/log/<SENDER_IP_ADDRESS>-netconsole.log.

Netcat (Linux)

If you have the luxury of having a Linux machine as "receiver", you just might want to try this:

In this example 192.168.1.103 is the same as "<RECEIVER_IP_ADDRESS>" (see #Step 3: Initialize netconsole at boot time)

 pet@receiver:~$ netcat -l -u 192.168.1.103 6666 | tee ~/netconsole.log

Just let it sit there. Continue with #Step 5: Check if it works. Once you are done, press "Control-C". The messages you want are in ~/netconsole.log.

If this doesn't work, also try without the IP address specifically listed:

 pet@receiver:~$ netcat -l -u 6666 | tee ~/netconsole.log

Netcat (Linux, alternative)

Some versions of Linux, such as Ubuntu Hardy (8.04), use a different version of Netcat that uses a different syntax. If you use a Linux receiver that has a different version of Netcat, it will print the following error message when you try the commands above:

 UDP listen needs -p arg

In this case, you need to issue the following command:

 pet@receiver:~$ netcat -l -p 6666 -u | tee ~/netconsole.log

Netcat (Mac OS-X)

Unsurprisingly, as OS-X is a BSD UNIX derivative, Netcat is available out of the box on this platform with the minor difference from Linux that the command is actually called nc rather than netcat.

In this example 192.168.1.103 is the same as "<RECEIVER_IP_ADDRESS>" (see #Step 3: Initialize netconsole at boot time)

 receiver:~ pet$ nc -l -u 192.168.1.103 6666 | tee ~/netconsole.log

Just let it sit there. Continue with #Step 5: Check if it works. Once you are done, press "Control-C". The messages you want are in ~/netconsole.log.

If this doesn't work, also try without the IP address specifically listed:

 receiver:~ pet$ nc -l -u 6666 | tee ~/netconsole.log

Netcat (Windows)

There's a netcat for Windows available here or here.

Unpack it somewhere (i.e. C:\Users\Pet\Desktop\nc\)

Open a dosprompt (Start -> Run -> cmd). In this example 192.168.1.103 is the same as <RECEIVER_IP_ADDRESS>.

 cd C:\Users\Pet\Desktop\nc\
 nc -u -l -p 6666 192.168.1.103 > netconsole.txt

Just let it sit there. Continue with #Step 5: Check if it works. Once you are done, press "Control-C". The messages you want are in netconsole.txt.

Syslog (Windows)

There's an open source syslog tool here. In the version currently available (2009, Jan), there is no way to change the port syslog listens on. You'll have to change the <REMOTE_PORT> to port 514 (which is the default syslog port).

Step 5: Check if it works

Reboot the "sender". Once rebooted execute the command below.

 $ dmesg | grep netcon
 [   21.048406] netconsole: local port 6666
 [   21.048410] netconsole: local IP 192.168.1.102
 [   21.048411] netconsole: interface eth0
 [   21.048413] netconsole: remote port 6666
 [   21.048415] netconsole: remote IP 192.168.1.103
 [   21.048418] netconsole: remote ethernet address 08:00:46:d4:1d:82
 [   21.048421] netconsole: device eth0 not up yet, forcing it
 [   22.908106] console [netcon0] enabled
 [   22.911536] netconsole: network logging started

Seems to be working! (OK) Now check your "receiver" to see whether the kernel messages were received! If that's the case, continue to use the "sender" until it crashes, hopefully the "receiver" receives some useful information about the crash.

You don't actually need to reboot the sender if you don't want to. You can manually load netconsole via:

 $ sudo modprobe netconsole netconsole=6666@192.168.1.102/eth0,6666@192.168.1.103/08:00:46:d4:1d:82

One way to test whether logging is working correctly or not is to insert some removable media like a CD, DVD or usb stick.

Remove netconsole

Once you retrieved the information you needed, we need to clean things up again.

Revert Grub to its original configuration

Grub 0.97: if you are using Ubuntu 9.04 or older

 pet@sender:~$ sudo mv /root/menu.lst.backup /boot/grub/menu.lst 
 pet@sender:~$ sudo update-grub

Grub 2: if you are using Ubuntu 9.10 or newer

 pet@sender:~$ sudo mv /etc/default/grub.backup /etc/default/grub 
 pet@sender:~$ sudo update-grub

Remove netconsole itself

 pet@sender:~$ sudo sed -i '/^netconsole/d' /etc/modules
 pet@sender:~$ sudo rm -f /etc/modprobe.d/netconsole.conf

Note from author

Do you have comments on the content above? Something incomplete or incorrect? Please don't hesitate to drop me a few lines.

I would like to say thanks to Peter Veerman and Leann Ogasawara for reviewing this document.

A big thanks to Bruno Girin for adding the grub-2 instructions

See also

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/KernelTeam/KernelTeamBugPolicies#Problems%20in%20capturing%20information

Another netconsole tutorial

Netconsole documentation

Netconsole tutorial for SuSe

KiBi's netconsole tutorial


CategoryDebugging

Kernel/Netconsole (last edited 2013-01-10 09:56:30 by uusijani)