Topics in post-mortem debugging
A couple of weeks ago, Joyent hosted A Midsummer Night's Systems meetup, a fun event with talks ranging from Node.js fatwas to big data for Mario Kart 64. My colleague Jeremy Jones had recently done some amazing work, perfect for the meetup, but with his first child less than a day old, Jeremy allowed me to present in his stead. In this short video (16 minutes) I talk about Jeremy's investigation of a nasty bug that necessitated the creation of two awesome post-mortem tools.
The first is what I call jdump, a Volatility plugin that takes a VMware snapshot and produces an illumos kernel crash dump. The second is ::gcore, an mdb command that can extract a fully functioning core file from a kernel crash dump. Together, they let us at Delphix scoop up all the state we'd need for a diagnosis with minimal interruption even when there's no hard failure.
Jeremy's tools are close to magic, and without them the problem was close to undebuggable. Watch this video on YouTube. Thanks, Jeremy for letting me present on your great work. And thanks to Deirdre Straughan and Joyent for the great event!