Preparation

I suppose you have already cloned syslog-ng into a local repository and you have all tools and libraries installed to compile syslog-ng.

Creating debug builds

You need to have debug symbols included in syslog-ng in order to debug it "efficiently". Step into your local clone and type the following commands:

$ ./autogen.sh
$ mkdir build
$ cd build
$ ../configure --enable-debug
$ make
$ sudo make install

The point is to pass the --enable-debug parameter to the configure script.

These commands will create a debug build under the build directory and install syslog-ng under a system specific directory. Installation will require superuser privileges.

Installing and running without superuser privileges

You may need to test syslog-ng without having superuser privileges. You can install syslog-ng into a custom location and run it without any privilege. This solution is fine until you need to read from /dev/log or listen to ports under 1024.

You can set the install location before the compilation process, just pass a --prefix=<the path where syslog-ng should be installed> parameter to the configure script.

$ ./autogen.sh
$ mkdir build
$ cd build
$ ../configure --enable-debug --prefix=$HOME/install/syslog-ng
$ make
$ make install

This way the make install command will not require superuser privileges and you can have multiple versions from syslog-ng on your computer.

Finding bugs

Unfortunately every software has bugs and syslog-ng is not an exception. When you report the problem to the developers they might need some extra information to reproduce the issue in-house. In this section we introduce you to some frequently used tools which may greatly simplify the bug hunting.

Finding memory leaks

We suggest to use two tools to track down these problems. Valgrind can detect memory leaks and many other things, it is available on a lot of operating systems but it greatly slows down syslog-ng. heaptrack is very convenient to use, it is faster than valgrind but it is not distributed as a binary package. You also need a Linux with a decent C++11 compiler.

Installing valgrind

On most platforms you can use the native package manager to install valgrind. On Ubuntu Trusty you need to execute the following command:

$ sudo apt-get install valgrind

On CentOS 7 just execute:

# yum install valgrind

Running syslog-ng under valgrind

You can run syslog-ng under valgrind with the following command.

G_SLICE=always-malloc valgrind --leak-check=full <the path where syslog-ng is installed>/sbin/syslog-ng -F

You may use other parameters. The G_SLICE environment variable makes the result nicer, because you will get less false positive results. The developers are interested in valgrind's output log.

Installing heaptrack

You will need a compiler with C++11 support. At least GCC 4.8 or clang 3.3 is required.

Ubuntu 14.04

In order to install heaptrack you have to compile it yourself. On Ubuntu Trusty the steps are the following:

apt-get update -y
apt-get install -y cmake \
                   g++ \
                   git \
                   libboost1.55-dev \
                   libboost-iostreams1.55-dev \
                   libboost-program-options1.55-dev \
                   libdwarf-dev \
                   libunwind8-dev \
                   software-properties-common

git clone git://anongit.kde.org/heaptrack.git /home/heaptrack
mkdir /home/heaptrack/build
cd /home/heaptrack/build
cmake -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo ..
make && make install

You may use other paths, not just /home/heaptrack.

CentOS 7

The steps are the following:

yum install -y epel-release
yum install -y cmake \
               gcc-c++ \
               git \
               boost-devel \
               boost-iostreams \
               boost-program-options \
               libdwarf-devel \
               libunwind-devel \
               make

git clone git://anongit.kde.org/heaptrack.git /home/heaptrack
mkdir /home/heaptrack/build
cd /home/heaptrack/build
cmake -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo ..
make && make install

You may use other paths, not just /home/heaptrack.

Running syslog-ng with heaptrack

You can run syslog-ng with heaptrack with the following command:

heaptrack <the path where syslog-ng is installed>/sbin/syslog-ng -F

It will create a gzip file and after you stopped it, it prints something like this:

...
  heaptrack_print -l /home/milian/heaptrack.yourapp.12345.gz | less

The output of heaptrack_print provides you with a lot of information about memory leaks. The Gzip file will be huge (some gigabytes or more) and heaptrack_print will fully consume one of your CPUs when it runs. It is not as slow as valgrind but you will notice the decreased performance.

You can generate nice and useful graphs with heaptrack. To do this, run pass the -M option to it. The massif-visualizer program can parse the output file and create diagrams like this:

Figure 1-1

You can fine-tune the result with --massif-threshold and --massif-detailed-freq.

If you are interested in heaptrack, you can find more information here:

http://milianw.de/blog/heaptrack-a-heap-memory-profiler-for-linux

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