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Subject[PATCH v8 09/12] user_events: Add documentation file
Add a documentation file about user_events with example code, etc.
explaining how it may be used.

Signed-off-by: Beau Belgrave <>
Documentation/trace/index.rst | 1 +
Documentation/trace/user_events.rst | 195 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
2 files changed, 196 insertions(+)
create mode 100644 Documentation/trace/user_events.rst

diff --git a/Documentation/trace/index.rst b/Documentation/trace/index.rst
index 3769b9b7aed8..3a47aa8341c6 100644
--- a/Documentation/trace/index.rst
+++ b/Documentation/trace/index.rst
@@ -30,3 +30,4 @@ Linux Tracing Technologies
+ user_events
diff --git a/Documentation/trace/user_events.rst b/Documentation/trace/user_events.rst
new file mode 100644
index 000000000000..36104b537476
--- /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/trace/user_events.rst
@@ -0,0 +1,195 @@
+user_events: User-based Event Tracing
+:Author: Beau Belgrave
+User based trace events allow user processes to create events and trace data
+that can be viewed via existing tools, such as ftrace, perf and eBPF.
+To enable this feature, build your kernel with CONFIG_USER_EVENTS=y.
+Programs can view status of the events via
+/sys/kernel/debug/tracing/user_events_status and can both register and write
+data out via /sys/kernel/debug/tracing/user_events_data.
+Programs can also use /sys/kernel/debug/tracing/dynamic_events to register and
+delete user based events via the u: prefix. The format of the command to
+dynamic_events is the same as the ioctl with the u: prefix applied.
+Typically programs will register a set of events that they wish to expose to
+tools that can read trace_events (such as ftrace and perf). The registration
+process gives back two ints to the program for each event. The first int is the
+status index. This index describes which byte in the
+/sys/kernel/debug/tracing/user_events_status file represents this event. The
+second int is the write index. This index describes the data when a write() or
+writev() is called on the /sys/kernel/debug/tracing/user_events_data file.
+The structures referenced in this document are contained with the
+/include/uap/linux/user_events.h file in the source tree.
+**NOTE:** *Both user_events_status and user_events_data are under the tracefs
+filesystem and may be mounted at different paths than above.*
+Registering within a user process is done via ioctl() out to the
+/sys/kernel/debug/tracing/user_events_data file. The command to issue is
+DIAG_IOCSREG. This command takes a struct user_reg as an argument.
+The struct user_reg requires two values, the first is the size of the structure
+to ensure forward and backward compatibility. The second is the command string
+to issue for registering.
+User based events show up under tracefs like any other event under the
+subsystem named "user_events". This means tools that wish to attach to the
+events need to use /sys/kernel/debug/tracing/events/user_events/[name]/enable
+or perf record -e user_events:[name] when attaching/recording.
+**NOTE:** *The write_index returned is only valid for the FD that was used*
+Command Format
+The command string format is as follows::
+ name[:FLAG1[,FLAG2...]] [Field1[;Field2...]]
+Supported Flags
+**BPF_ITER** - EBPF programs attached to this event will get the raw iovec
+struct instead of any data copies for max performance.
+Field Format
+ type name [size]
+Basic types are supported (__data_loc, u32, u64, int, char, char[20], etc).
+User programs are encouraged to use clearly sized types like u32.
+**NOTE:** *Long is not supported since size can vary between user and kernel.*
+The size is only valid for types that start with a struct prefix.
+This allows user programs to describe custom structs out to tools, if required.
+For example, a struct in C that looks like this::
+ struct mytype {
+ char data[20];
+ };
+Would be represented by the following field::
+ struct mytype myname 20
+When tools attach/record user based events the status of the event is updated
+in realtime. This allows user programs to only incur the cost of the write() or
+writev() calls when something is actively attached to the event.
+User programs call mmap() on /sys/kernel/debug/tracing/user_events_status to
+check the status for each event that is registered. The byte to check in the
+file is given back after the register ioctl() via user_reg.status_index.
+Currently the size of user_events_status is a single page, however, custom
+kernel configurations can change this size to allow more user based events. In
+all cases the size of the file is a multiple of a page size.
+For example, if the register ioctl() gives back a status_index of 3 you would
+check byte 3 of the returned mmap data to see if anything is attached to that
+Administrators can easily check the status of all registered events by reading
+the user_events_status file directly via a terminal. The output is as follows::
+ Byte:Name [# Comments]
+ ...
+ Active: ActiveCount
+ Busy: BusyCount
+ Max: MaxCount
+For example, on a system that has a single event the output looks like this::
+ 1:test
+ Active: 1
+ Busy: 0
+ Max: 4096
+If a user enables the user event via ftrace, the output would change to this::
+ 1:test # Used by ftrace
+ Active: 1
+ Busy: 1
+ Max: 4096
+**NOTE:** *A status index of 0 will never be returned. This allows user
+programs to have an index that can be used on error cases.*
+Status Bits
+The byte being checked will be non-zero if anything is attached. Programs can
+check specific bits in the byte to see what mechanism has been attached.
+The following values are defined to aid in checking what has been attached:
+**EVENT_STATUS_FTRACE** - Bit set if ftrace has been attached (Bit 0).
+**EVENT_STATUS_PERF** - Bit set if perf/eBPF has been attached (Bit 1).
+Writing Data
+After registering an event the same fd that was used to register can be used
+to write an entry for that event. The write_index returned must be at the start
+of the data, then the remaining data is treated as the payload of the event.
+For example, if write_index returned was 1 and I wanted to write out an int
+payload of the event. Then the data would have to be 8 bytes (2 ints) in size,
+with the first 4 bytes being equal to 1 and the last 4 bytes being equal to the
+value I want as the payload.
+In memory this would look like this::
+ int index;
+ int payload;
+User programs might have well known structs that they wish to use to emit out
+as payloads. In those cases writev() can be used, with the first vector being
+the index and the following vector(s) being the actual event payload.
+For example, if I have a struct like this::
+ struct payload {
+ int src;
+ int dst;
+ int flags;
+ };
+It's advised for user programs to do the following::
+ struct iovec io[2];
+ struct payload e;
+ io[0].iov_base = &write_index;
+ io[0].iov_len = sizeof(write_index);
+ io[1].iov_base = &e;
+ io[1].iov_len = sizeof(e);
+ writev(fd, (const struct iovec*)io, 2);
+**NOTE:** *The write_index is not emitted out into the trace being recorded.*
+EBPF programs that attach to a user-based event tracepoint are given a pointer
+to a struct user_bpf_context. The bpf context contains the data type (which can
+be a user or kernel buffer, or can be a pointer to the iovec) and the data
+length that was emitted (minus the write_index).
+Example Code
+See sample code in samples/user_events.
 \ /
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