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blkparse - produce formatted output of event streams of block devices


blkparse [ options ]


The blkparse utility will attempt to combine streams of events for various devices on
various CPUs, and produce a formatted output of the event information. Specifically, it
will take the (machine-readable) output of the blktrace utility and convert it to a nicely
formatted and human-readable form.

As with blktrace, some details concerning blkparse will help in understanding the command
line options presented below.

- By default, blkparse expects to run in a post-processing mode; one where the trace
events have been saved by a previous run of blktrace, and blkparse is combining event
streams and dumping formatted data.

blkparse may be run in a live manner concurrently with blktrace by specifying -i - to
blkparse, and combining it with the live option for blktrace. An example would be:

% blktrace -d /dev/sda -o - | blkparse -i -

- You can set how many blkparse batches event reads via the -b option, the default is to
handle events in batches of 512.

- If you have saved event traces in blktrace with different output names (via the -o
option to blktrace), you must specify the same input name via the -i option.

- The format of the output data can be controlled via the -f or -F options -- see OUTPUT

By default, blkparse sends formatted data to standard output. This may be changed via the
-o option, or text output can be disabled via the -O option. A merged binary stream can be
produced using the -d option.


-A hex-mask
Set filter mask to hex-mask, see blktrace (8) for masks

-a mask
Add mask to current filter, see blktrace (8) for masks

-D dir
Prepend dir to input file names

-b batch
Standard input read batching

-i file
Specifies base name for input files -- default is device.blktrace.cpu.

As noted above, specifying -i - runs in live mode with blktrace (reading data from
standard in).

-F typ,fmt
-f fmt
Sets output format (See OUTPUT DESCRIPTION AND FORMATTING for details.)

The -f form specifies a format for all events

The -F form allows one to specify a format for a specific event type. The
single-character typ field is one of the action specifiers described in ACTION

When -d is specified, this will stop messages from being output to the file. (Can
seriously reduce the size of the resultant file when using the CFQ I/O scheduler.)

Hash processes by name, not by PID

-o file
Output file

Do not produce text output, used for binary (-d) only

-d file
Binary output file

Quiet mode

Displays data sorted by program

Display time deltas per IO

-w span
Display traces for the span specified -- where span can be:
end-time -- Display traces from time 0 through end-time (in ns)
start:end-time -- Display traces from time start through end-time (in ns).

More verbose marginal on marginal errors

Display version


The following trace actions are recognised:

C -- complete A previously issued request has been completed. The output will detail the
sector and size of that request, as well as the success or failure of it.

D -- issued A request that previously resided on the block layer queue or in the i/o
scheduler has been sent to the driver.

I -- inserted A request is being sent to the i/o scheduler for addition to the internal
queue and later service by the driver. The request is fully formed at this time.

Q -- queued This notes intent to queue i/o at the given location. No real requests exists

B -- bounced The data pages attached to this bio are not reachable by the hardware and
must be bounced to a lower memory location. This causes a big slowdown in i/o
performance, since the data must be copied to/from kernel buffers. Usually this can be
fixed with using better hardware -- either a better i/o controller, or a platform with

M -- back merge A previously inserted request exists that ends on the boundary of where
this i/o begins, so the i/o scheduler can merge them together.

F -- front merge Same as the back merge, except this i/o ends where a previously inserted
requests starts.

M -- front or back merge One of the above

M -- front or back merge One of the above.

G -- get request To send any type of request to a block device, a struct request container
must be allocated first.

S -- sleep No available request structures were available, so the issuer has to wait for
one to be freed.

P -- plug When i/o is queued to a previously empty block device queue, Linux will plug the
queue in anticipation of future ios being added before this data is needed.

U -- unplug Some request data already queued in the device, start sending requests to the
driver. This may happen automatically if a timeout period has passed (see next entry)
or if a number of requests have been added to the queue.

T -- unplug due to timer If nobody requests the i/o that was queued after plugging the
queue, Linux will automatically unplug it after a defined period has passed.

X -- split On raid or device mapper setups, an incoming i/o may straddle a device or
internal zone and needs to be chopped up into smaller pieces for service. This may
indicate a performance problem due to a bad setup of that raid/dm device, but may also
just be part of normal boundary conditions. dm is notably bad at this and will clone
lots of i/o.

A -- remap For stacked devices, incoming i/o is remapped to device below it in the i/o
stack. The remap action details what exactly is being remapped to what.


The output from blkparse can be tailored for specific use -- in particular, to ease
parsing of output, and/or limit output fields to those the user wants to see. The data for
fields which can be output include:

a Action, a (small) string (1 or 2 characters) -- see table below for more details

c CPU id

C Command

d RWBS field, a (small) string (1-3 characters) -- see section below for more details

D 7-character string containing the major and minor numbers of the event's device
(separated by a comma).

e Error value

m Minor number of event's device.

M Major number of event's device.

n Number of blocks

N Number of bytes

p Process ID

P Display packet data -- series of hexadecimal values

s Sequence numbers

S Sector number

t Time stamp (nanoseconds)

T Time stamp (seconds)

u Elapsed value in microseconds (-t command line option)

U Payload unsigned integer

Note that the user can optionally specify field display width, and optionally a left-
aligned specifier. These precede field specifiers, with a '%' character, followed by the
optional left-alignment specifier (-) followed by the width (a decimal number) and then
the field.

Thus, to specify the command in a 12-character field that is left aligned:

-f "%-12C"


The following table shows the various actions which may be output:

A IO was remapped to a different device

B IO bounced

C IO completion

D IO issued to driver

F IO front merged with request on queue

G Get request

I IO inserted onto request queue

M IO back merged with request on queue

P Plug request

Q IO handled by request queue code

S Sleep request

T Unplug due to timeout

U Unplug request

X Split


This is a small string containing at least one character ('R' for read, 'W' for write, or
'D' for block discard operation), and optionally either a 'B' (for barrier operations) or
'S' (for synchronous operations).


The standard header (or initial fields displayed) include:

"%D %2c %8s %5T.%9t %5p %2a %3d"

Breaking this down:

%D Displays the event's device major/minor as: %3d,%-3d.

%2c CPU ID (2-character field).

%8s Sequence number

5-character field for the seconds portion of the time stamp and a 9-character field
for the nanoseconds in the time stamp.

%5p 5-character field for the process ID.

%2a 2-character field for one of the actions.

%3d 3-character field for the RWBS data.

Seeing this in action:

8,0 3 1 0.000000000 697 G W 223490 + 8 [kjournald]

The header is the data in this line up to the 223490 (starting block). The default
output for all event types includes this header.


C -- complete
If a payload is present, this is presented between parenthesis following the header,
followed by the error value.

If no payload is present, the sector and number of blocks are presented (with an
intervening plus (+) character). If the -t option was specified, then the elapsed time
is presented. In either case, it is followed by the error value for the completion.

B -- bounced
D -- issued
I -- inserted
Q -- queued
If a payload is present, the number of payload bytes is output, followed by the
payload in hexadecimal between parenthesis.

If no payload is present, the sector and number of blocks are presented (with an
intervening plus (+) character). If the -t option was specified, then the elapsed time
is presented (in parenthesis). In either case, it is followed by the command
associated with the event (surrounded by square brackets).

F -- front merge
G -- get request
M -- back merge
S -- sleep
The starting sector and number of blocks is output (with an intervening plus (+)
character), followed by the command associated with the event (surrounded by square

P -- plug
The command associated with the event (surrounded by square brackets) is output.

U -- unplug
T -- unplug due to timer
The command associated with the event (surrounded by square brackets) is output,
followed by the number of requests outstanding.

X -- split
The original starting sector followed by the new sector (separated by a slash (/) is
output, followed by the command associated with the event (surrounded by square

A -- remap
Sector and length is output, along with the original device and sector offset.


To trace the i/o on the device /dev/hda and parse the output to human readable form, use
the following command:

% blktrace -d /dev/sda -o - | blkparse -i -

(see blktrace (8) for more information). This same behaviour can be achieve with the
convenience script btrace. The command

% btrace /dev/sda

has exactly the same effect as the previous command. See btrace (8) for more information.

To trace the i/o on a device and save the output for later processing with blkparse, use
blktrace like this:

% blktrace /dev/sda /dev/sdb

This will trace i/o on the devices /dev/sda and /dev/sdb and save the recorded information
in the files sda and sdb in the current directory, for the two different devices,
respectively. This trace information can later be parsed by the blkparse utility:

% blkparse sda sdb

which will output the previously recorded tracing information in human readable form to


blkparse was written by Jens Axboe, Alan D. Brunelle and Nathan Scott. This man page was
created from the blktrace documentation by Bas Zoetekouw.


Report bugs to <[email protected]>


Copyright © 2006 Jens Axboe, Alan D. Brunelle and Nathan Scott.
This is free software. You may redistribute copies of it under the terms of the GNU
General Public License <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html>. There is NO WARRANTY, to
the extent permitted by law.
This manual page was created for Debian by Bas Zoetekouw. It was derived from the
documentation provided by the authors and it may be used, distributed and modified under
the terms of the GNU General Public License, version 2.
On Debian systems, the text of the GNU General Public License can be found in

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