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  1. #1

    Do you still googling error messages?

    I am intermediate Linux user which has basic knowledge of programming (c, perl, js ...) and some system troubleshooting (strace, SystemTap, lsof ...) and I am tired of Googling the messages which comes to Linux logs (/var/log/messages). I would like to improve my Linux kernel knowledge. Since Linux (and it's utilities like ssh etc.) is open source there are source codes available somewhere. So my question is: How can I troubleshoot/debug Linux problems on source code level? Is this even possible for intermediate Linux user? Where to begin and how to improve my programming skills and Linux kernel knowledge this way? Any best practices are welcomed.

    Something like this:

    1. Copy your error message
    2. Paste it to online search engine for kernel source codes which can be found *
    3. Now you have file name where it appears under kernel structures
    4. See folders and files structure contained in kernel here *
    5. You can deduce from file location what is purpose of this file under kernel, or find further documentation here *
    6. Use tool * to find further files in kernel on which your incriminated file depends
    7. Now read their source until it will be clear
    8. Now you can see under which conditions this message happens (if else statements)
    9. You can use software like * to debug or write some kind of exception to see when this message appears.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Roxoff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Nottingham, England
    Hi there. You could go searching through the code tree with 'grep' if you get a particular message you want to investigate. It's potentially time consuming to go searching in that manner, but you can then read the code at that point to see what went wrong.

    The problem with this is that many of the errors you see are not generated in the kernel, but in other modules, services, drivers, user-space apps, etc. so in that case you'd have to widen your search out a long way to go hunting out your message. You will potentially learn quite a bit - but it is not a short process.

    On top of that, Googling the error has for me lead me straight to some bug page where the error I'm experiencing is listed as a known issue - and either told me what a workaround was or how to solve it. Googling will still get you more quickly to a solution to the problem.
    Linux user #126863 - see

  3. #3
    Yes I understand that applications messages wont be contained in kernel and also I am expecting that it would be more time consuming process than googling. Are there any sources codes in which I can search in (usually when I search for some message it points me to forums not to source codes)? As you mentioned I can use grep but I have to have source codes on my disk drive or am I missing something? To understand me I am trying to better understand system, learn some kernel hacking and C by some kind of "reverse engineering" process.

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