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Oracle® Solaris 11.4 DTrace (Dynamic Tracing) Guide

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Updated: September 2020

External Symbols and Types in DTrace

DTrace instrumentation executes inside the Oracle Solaris operating system kernel, so in addition to accessing special DTrace variables and probe arguments, you can also access kernel data structures, symbols, and types. These capabilities enable advanced DTrace users, administrators, service personnel, and driver developers to examine low-level behavior of the operating system kernel and device drivers.

D uses the backquote character (`) as a special scoping operator for accessing symbols that are defined in the operating system and not in your D program. For example, the Oracle Solaris kernel contains a C declaration of a system tunable named kmem_flags for enabling memory allocator debugging features. For more information about kmem_flags, see Oracle Solaris 11.4 Tunable Parameters Reference Manual. This tunable is declared in C in the kernel source code as follows:

int kmem_flags;

To trace the value of this variable in a D program, you can write the D statement:


DTrace associates each kernel symbol with the type used for it in the corresponding operating system C code, providing easy source-based access to the native operating system data structures. Kernel symbol names are kept in a separate namespace from D variable and function identifiers, so you never need to worry about these names conflicting with your D variables.

The following sections describe the complete set of rules for D and demonstrate how DTrace can make complex performance measurements and functional analysis of the system easy. Later, you will see how to use DTrace to connect user application behavior to system behavior, giving you the capability to analyze your entire software stack.