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Linux Coredumps


By enabling coredump support with Memfault, the memfaultd daemon will automatically collect, preprocess, and upload coredumps from your devices and send them to the Memfault platform. In turn, the Memfault platform acts as a remote analyzer for your coredump files and (using your project's debugging symbols) is able to display a rich view of a coredump, displaying backtraces for all threads, and allowing you to inspect state in full detail.

From man core:

The default action of certain signals is to cause a process to terminate and produce a core dump file containing an image of the process's memory at the time of termination. This image can be used in a debugger (e.g., gdb(1)) to inspect the state of the program at the time that it terminated. A list of the signals that cause a process to dump core can be found in signal(7).

Additionally, Memfault takes care of grouping traces from coredumps into issues, managing issues, and providing metrics on issues and monitoring via notifications, granting you a clear image of how your fleet is behaving, as well as tight control over the success of your OTA updates.

A Linux coredump as an issue on the Memfault Web App

A Linux coredump as an issue on the Memfault Web App.


Keep meta-memfault-example open as a reference implementation. Your integration should look similar once you're done following the steps in this tutorial.


The memfaultd daemon, built with the coredump feature

Follow the integration guide to learn how to set this up for your device. A key function of memfaultd is to preprocess and upload coredumps to the Memfault platform. It does this via its coredump feature.

The coredump feature is enabled by default. Read more on how to configure which features memfaultd builds with.

Linux kernel configuration

Ensure that your Linux kernel is built with the following options enabled:

  • CONFIG_COREDUMP=y to enable coredump creation by the kernel
  • CONFIG_CORE_DUMP_DEFAULT_ELF_HEADERS=y to enable default mappings. for processes. Specifically, Memfault recommends:
    • bit 0: dump anonymous private mappings,
    • bit 1: dump anonymous shared mappings, and
    • bit 4: (available since Linux 2.6.24) dump ELF headers.

Read man core to learn more about these settings. We recommend reading the entirety of this man page if you need basic understanding of how coredumps work in Linux.

To confirm that your kernel is correctly configured, check out your project's configuration file in tmp/work/[machine]/[kernelpackage]/[version]/build/.config. For example:


core_pattern and core_pipe_limit

The following files will be modified by memfaultd at runtime and must not be written to by any other process.

  • /proc/sys/kernel/core_pattern (see man core)
  • /proc/sys/kernel/core_pipe_limit (see man core)

Make sure your Linux image does not contain any other services that may be written to these files. To do this, check for the inclusion of other coredump handlers, such as systemd (which can act as a coredump handler when built with -Dcoredump=true), and check your /etc/sysctl.d drop-in directory for anything other than Memfault that may be setting kernel.core_pattern or kernel.core_pipe_limit.

To check whether you've succeeded in letting memfaultd take care of these files, confirm that the contents of the core_pattern file reference the memfault-core-handler binary (see Test your integration).

Note that memfaultd respects privacy settings and only sets core_pattern if data collection is enabled at runtime.

Make sure prelinking is disabled

Prelinking is an operation that optimizes application load times by resolving library symbols before launch. However, most of the benefits of prelinking are lost unless PIE is disabled, and both Glibc and Yocto are dropping support for it. It is disabled by default in Yocto since 3.4 - Honister.

To disable prelinking on an older version of Yocto, where it is still enabled by default, you need to override USER_CLASSES in local.conf. On Yocto versions before 3.4 - Honister, USER_CLASSES included image-prelink by default.

If you already have USER_CLASSES overridden in local.conf, make sure image-prelink is not included in the list. If not, you can use USER_CLASSES:remove = "image-prelink" to keep the defaults, except for "image-prelink".

This is how we disable prelinking in our example image:

USER_CLASSES = "buildstats"

We strongly recommend against using Link Time Optimization (LTO) in the programs you want to be able to debug using coredumps. When LTO is enabled, the analysis of the coredumps can become lacking or even fail completely.

Controlling which memory regions are captured in coredumps

memfaultd can use different strategies to capture the memory of the crashed program.

Threads stack only

By default, the threads strategy limits capture to all program thread stacks. This reduces the coredump size while keeping the most useful information when debugging.

You can limit the size of each stack with max_thread_size_kib.

// /etc/memfaultd.conf
"coredump": {
"capture_strategy": {
"type": "threads",
"max_thread_size_kib": 32

Kernel selection

If you would like to capture more memory and include the heap and other memory regions, you can use the kernel_selection strategy. This strategy captures all the memory regions included in the ELF core file generated by the kernel (see man core core for kernel configuration options).

// /etc/memfaultd.conf
"coredump": {
"capture_strategy": {
"type": "kernel_selection"

With this strategy, coredumps can grow as large as the amount of memory the program uses. If the uncompressed size exceeds coredump_max_size_kib, the coredump will not be saved.

Capturing logs in coredumps

memfaultd can capture the most recent logs from the system at the time of a crash and add them to the coredump. This can give you more context about what was happening in the system up to the time of coredump capture. The logs are configured using the following configuration:

// /etc/memfaultd.conf
"coredump": {
"log_lines": 100

This configuration will capture the last 100 lines of logs from the system at the time of the crash. The log lines will be captured in memory in a circular queue, with the oldest line being dropped when the total number of log lines exceeds the value of log_lines. A snapshot of this buffer is added to the coredump at the time of coredump capture.

Captured logs can be found in the Logs tab of an issue:


For more information on configuring logging see the logging section.

Upload debugging symbols

After a coredump was collected on the device, memfaultd will upload it to the Memfault Web App. To allow the Memfault Web App to reconstruct all details from such coredumps, you'll need to upload debugging symbols for each of the binaries in your Linux image. While coredumps will still be processed without debugging symbols, only a limited set of the debugging features in the web app will be available until they are uploaded. We recommend doing this as part of your build process (since this needs to be done for every version), either locally or ideally as part of continuous integration, to keep Memfault up to date with your build's newest debugging symbols.

Automatic upload with Yocto

First, configure Yocto to generate a separate DEBUGFS image containing all the debug symbols for your system image:

# Support memfault-cli upload-yocto-symbols command
DEPENDS:append = " elfutils-native"

IMAGE_GEN_DEBUGFS will cause Yocto to build an archive with separated debug info of all the binaries on the system. Your system image will not get larger , but a separate -dbg.tar.gz file will be saved next to your system image.

This archive is used by the memfault upload-yocto-symbols command. It does not upload the complete file directly: it extracts it to a temporary directory and generates unstripped copies of the binaries and their symbols.

If you can't do this, then you can pass the information needed from the build environment as command-line arguments:

  • --eu-unstrip-path: path to a local eu-unstrip binary from elfutils. Note that one is available in tmp/sysroot-components/x86_64/elfutils-native if you've added DEPENDS:append = " elfutils-native" to your build.
  • --package-debug-split-style: your project's PACKAGE_DEBUG_SPLIT_STYLE. In Poky, it defaults to debug-with-srcpkg. Read more about it in the Yocto reference.

To upload your debug symbols, use the Memfault CLI (version 0.11.0 or newer): memfault upload-yocto-symbols.

$ source oe-init-build-env
$ memfault \
--project $YOUR_PROJECT_SLUG \
upload-yocto-symbols \
--image tmp/deploy/images/raspberrypi3/base-image-raspberrypi3.tar.bz2 \
--dbg-image tmp/deploy/images/raspberrypi3/base-image-raspberrypi3-dbg.tar.bz2

By default upload-yocto-symbols will use a default temporary directory in your system such as /tmp to extract the debug symbols. This can use significant space and if you'd like to use a different location in your filesystem, you can do so with the TMPDIR environment variable: TMPDIR=<desired directory> memfault ....

Project and Organization slugs and keys

Your ORGANIZATION_SLUG and PROJECT_SLUG can be found in the settings page of your project. The ORGANIZATION_AUTH_TOKEN can be generated in Admin → Organization Auth Tokens. This can only be done by an organization administrator.

The format of your --dbg-image may differ from that of your --image. Supported formats are .tar, .tar.bz2, .tar.gz and .tar.xz.

memfault requires bitbake to upload the symbols. It's recommended that you source the Yocto build environment script using source oe-init-build-env before running upload-yocto-symbols.

Upload symbols from non-Yocto builds

upload-yocto-symbols assumes you are using Yocto to build your Linux device software. If you aren't, you can use upload-elf-symbols. This command takes an archive of binaries with debug symbols, extracts the ELFs, and uploads them to Memfault.

$ memfault \
--project $YOUR_PROJECT_SLUG \
upload-elf-symbols \
--archive build/debug-rootfs.tar.bz2

Manual upload

Another option is to upload the symbol files individually using the Memfault Web Application. The symbol files you upload here must be individual ELF files containing the program text and debugging symbols. Typically, you build them with -g and remove the debug symbols before distribution with the strip command.

Open Software → Symbol Files and click on Upload Symbol File, or simply

click on this deep link to the app

The Yocto-generated debug image (for example in .tar.bz2 format) contains stripped and (separately) debug binaries. To upload them to Memfault, you'll need to use the Memfault CLI as shown above.


Read docs on CI and authentication in order to obtain credentials that you can use in your build environment or in continuous integration.

API upload of individual symbol files

Our REST API is also available as an option for uploading individual symbol files.

Set enable_data_collection

By default, enable_data_collection is false (see the default configuration). This enables asking end users for consent before collecting or transmitting any data to Memfault services.

Once the end-user has given their consent, you can enable data collection like so:

$ memfaultctl enable-data-collection

To disable it:

$ memfaultctl disable-data-collection

The memfaultd service will restart automatically whenever you run either of those commands if called with a value different from the current configuration.

Take a look at the /etc/memfaultd.conf reference for more information.

Test your integration

You can test your integration with memfaultctl. The trigger-coredump command will fork itself and crash.

# memfaultctl trigger-coredump

If developer mode is active, memfaultctl will immediately push the coredump to Memfault. Otherwise you can force memfaultd to sync immediately with:

# memfaultctl sync

If your integration is all set and you've enabled data collection, you'll be able to see a new issue pop up in your project's Issues page.

Debugging Issues

You might want to check that the core_pattern file is being set correctly by memfaultd when it starts. Check that the output of this command includes memfault-core-handler:

$ cat /proc/sys/kernel/core_pattern

Logs from memfault-core-handler are sent to kernel logs. You can check them with dmesg or journalctl -f:

$ dmesg
[1066631.655572] memfaultd::cli::memfault_core_handler[6423]: Successfully captured coredump