The Advent of Void: Day 11: fatrace

As a Linux user, you probably know how to use strace(1) to see what a particular process is doing. However, getting a picture of what the whole system is doing is more difficult.

If it’s related to file access, fatrace(1) can be of great help then. fatrace uses the Linux fanotify API, which allows global tracing of all file operations. CONFIG_FANOTIFY=y is enabled on Void Linux by default.

Just run fatrace as root to see what’s going on:

# fatrace
svlogd(1036): W /var/log/socklog/secure/current
firefox(12433): W /home/.../cookies.sqlite-wal
sh(18513): C /usr/bin/dash
sh(18513): C /usr/lib/ld-2.26.so
sh(18513): C /usr/lib/libc-2.26.so
xlmdcheck(18568): RCO /home/.../Mail/root@fs/new
xlmdcheck(18568): RC /home/.../Mail/root@fs
xlmdcheck(18568): RC /home/.../Mail

The letters stand for Open, Read, Write, or Close, respectively.

fatrace also offers some filtering functions, so you can exclude by PID, match for actions or the program name, and even add timestamps to the output.

A nice usecase of fatrace occurs when you are doing a long but silent cp -a or rsync, since you can quickly check on which files the process currently operates.