What is in /proc/self/mountstats for NFS mounts: an introduction

October 3, 2013

As I discovered recently, for several years Linux kernels have made a huge amount of per-mount NFS performance statistics visible in /proc/self/mountstat. Unfortunately none of this is documented. Because I have a use for the information and I'm a glutton for punishment, I'm going to write up what I've found out. Mountstats contains so much information that this is going to take several entries.

To start with, let's talk about the overall format of a filesystem entry. In a relatively recent kernel, this looks like the following for an NFS v3 mount over TCP (probably a common case):

device fs1:/cs/mail mounted on /var/mail with fstype nfs statvers=1.0
        opts:   rw,[... many ...]
        age:    11343100
        caps:   caps=0x3fc7,wtmult=512,dtsize=8192,bsize=0,namlen=255
        sec:    flavor=1,pseudoflavor=1
        events: [... numbers ...]
        bytes:  [... numbers ...]
        RPC iostats version: 1.0  p/v: 100003/3 (nfs)
        xprt:   tcp [... numbers ...]
        per-op statistics
                NULL: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
                [more operations]

(Some kernel configurations may produce an additional line with 'fsc:'. NFS v4 mounts will have a bunch of additional information that I haven't looked into because we don't have any.)

The entry ends with a blank line (not shown). There are no less than four different sets of statistics in this; events: for high-level NFS events, bytes: for actual data being read and written, xprt: for low level NFS RPC activity, and then relatively detailed statistics for each NFS protocol operation. If you're hunting performance issues you may wind up looking at all of them. As is usual for kernel stats, all of the numbers are 'from the beginning of time' ones and just count up as things happen; if you want to get per-second statistics or the like you need to read the file more than once then work out the difference between your two readings.

Describing most of the fields in mountstats is sufficiently complicated that it needs separate entries: bytes: and high-level NFS events:, xprt: NFS RPC information, and the per-operation statistics.

The age: field is how many seconds this particular NFS mount has been in existence. You can use this to compute overall per-interval stats from all of the counters if you're so inclined, although I don't usually find overall stats very useful (since our activity is invariably very bursty).

There are currently a number of programs that try to do something with this firehose of information. Unfortunately I have yet to stumble over one that gives what I consider useful reports.

PS: You might be wondering why this is /proc/<PID>/mountstats instead of a general file in /proc or whatever. My understanding is that the reason for this is that modern Linux systems can have multiple filesystem namespaces and hence you have to talk about a specific process's view of mounts. It's traditional to use /proc/self/mountstats because you can always read your own version of it.

Sidebar: where in the kernel this stuff lives

Since there is no documentation, understanding what is being reported here requires reading the kernel source. In current 3.12.0-rc3 code, the overall report is produced by nfs_show_stats() in fs/nfs/super.c. This is responsible for events: and bytes:; the information that appears in them is discussed in the comments for include/linux/nfs_iostat.h.

The RPC information is produced by rpc_print_iostats() in net/sunrpc/stats.c. The xptr: line is produced by several different functions in net/sunrpc/xprtsock.c (which one is used depends on the connection protocol) using information in a structure that is described in include/linux/sunrpc/xprt.h (note that these struct fields are not printed in order, so you really do need to read the code). The per-op statistics are produced using information described in include/linux/sunrpc/metrics.h but again you'll need to read the source for the order and details.

Written on 03 October 2013.
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Last modified: Thu Oct 3 00:42:23 2013
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