Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Adam Leventhal's Weblog:

I let it run for a while, made iTunes do some work, and the result when I stopped the script? Nothing. The expensive DTrace invocation clearly caused iTunes to do a lot more work, but DTrace was giving me no output.
Which started me thinking... did they? Surely not. They wouldn't disable DTrace for certain applications.

But that's exactly what Apple's done with their DTrace implementation. The notion of true systemic tracing was a bit too egalitarian for their classist sensibilities so they added this glob of lard into dtrace_probe() -- the heart of DTrace:

#if defined(__APPLE__)
* If the thread on which this probe has fired belongs to a process marked P_LNOATTACH
* then this enabling is not permitted to observe it. Move along, nothing to see here.
if (ISSET(current_proc()->p_lflag, P_LNOATTACH)) {
#endif /* __APPLE__ */

Wow. So Apple is explicitly preventing DTrace from examining or recording data for processes which don't permit tracing. This is antithetical to the notion of systemic tracing, antithetical to the goals of DTrace, and antithetical to the spirit of open source. I'm sure this was inserted under pressure from ISVs, but that makes the pill no easier to swallow. To say that Apple has crippled DTrace on Mac OS X would be a bit alarmist, but they've certainly undermined its efficacy and, in doing do, unintentionally damaged some of its most basic functionality.