core(5) — Linux manual page


core(5)                    File Formats Manual                   core(5)

NAME         top

       core - core dump file

DESCRIPTION         top

       The default action of certain signals is to cause a process to
       terminate and produce a core dump file, a 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 which cause a process to dump core can be found in

       A process can set its soft RLIMIT_CORE resource limit to place an
       upper limit on the size of the core dump file that will be
       produced if it receives a "core dump" signal; see getrlimit(2)
       for details.

       There are various circumstances in which a core dump file is not

       •  The process does not have permission to write the core file.
          (By default, the core file is called core or, where
          pid is the ID of the process that dumped core, and is created
          in the current working directory.  See below for details on
          naming.)  Writing the core file fails if the directory in
          which it is to be created is not writable, or if a file with
          the same name exists and is not writable or is not a regular
          file (e.g., it is a directory or a symbolic link).

       •  A (writable, regular) file with the same name as would be used
          for the core dump already exists, but there is more than one
          hard link to that file.

       •  The filesystem where the core dump file would be created is
          full; or has run out of inodes; or is mounted read-only; or
          the user has reached their quota for the filesystem.

       •  The directory in which the core dump file is to be created
          does not exist.

       •  The RLIMIT_CORE (core file size) or RLIMIT_FSIZE (file size)
          resource limits for the process are set to zero; see
          getrlimit(2) and the documentation of the shell's ulimit
          command (limit in csh(1)).  However, RLIMIT_CORE will be
          ignored if the system is configured to pipe core dumps to a

       •  The binary being executed by the process does not have read
          permission enabled.  (This is a security measure to ensure
          that an executable whose contents are not readable does not
          produce a—possibly readable—core dump containing an image of
          the executable.)

       •  The process is executing a set-user-ID (set-group-ID) program
          that is owned by a user (group) other than the real user
          (group) ID of the process, or the process is executing a
          program that has file capabilities (see capabilities(7)).
          (However, see the description of the prctl(2) PR_SET_DUMPABLE
          operation, and the description of the
          /proc/sys/fs/suid_dumpable file in proc(5).)

       •  /proc/sys/kernel/core_pattern is empty and
          /proc/sys/kernel/core_uses_pid contains the value 0.  (These
          files are described below.)  Note that if
          /proc/sys/kernel/core_pattern is empty and
          /proc/sys/kernel/core_uses_pid contains the value 1, core dump
          files will have names of the form .pid, and such files are
          hidden unless one uses the ls(1) -a option.

       •  (Since Linux 3.7) The kernel was configured without the
          CONFIG_COREDUMP option.

       In addition, a core dump may exclude part of the address space of
       the process if the madvise(2) MADV_DONTDUMP flag was employed.

       On systems that employ systemd(1) as the init framework, core
       dumps may instead be placed in a location determined by
       systemd(1).  See below for further details.

   Naming of core dump files
       By default, a core dump file is named core, but the
       /proc/sys/kernel/core_pattern file (since Linux 2.6 and 2.4.21)
       can be set to define a template that is used to name core dump
       files.  The template can contain % specifiers which are
       substituted by the following values when a core file is created:

           %%  A single % character.
           %c  Core file size soft resource limit of crashing process
               (since Linux 2.6.24).
           %d  Dump mode—same as value returned by prctl(2)
               PR_GET_DUMPABLE (since Linux 3.7).
           %e  The process or thread's comm value, which typically is
               the same as the executable filename (without path prefix,
               and truncated to a maximum of 15 characters), but may
               have been modified to be something different; see the
               discussion of /proc/pid/comm and /proc/pid/task/tid/comm
               in proc(5).
           %E  Pathname of executable, with slashes ('/') replaced by
               exclamation marks ('!') (since Linux 3.0).
           %g  Numeric real GID of dumped process.
           %h  Hostname (same as nodename returned by uname(2)).
           %i  TID of thread that triggered core dump, as seen in the
               PID namespace in which the thread resides (since Linux
           %I  TID of thread that triggered core dump, as seen in the
               initial PID namespace (since Linux 3.18).
           %p  PID of dumped process, as seen in the PID namespace in
               which the process resides.
           %P  PID of dumped process, as seen in the initial PID
               namespace (since Linux 3.12).
           %s  Number of signal causing dump.
           %t  Time of dump, expressed as seconds since the Epoch,
               1970-01-01 00:00:00 +0000 (UTC).
           %u  Numeric real UID of dumped process.

       A single % at the end of the template is dropped from the core
       filename, as is the combination of a % followed by any character
       other than those listed above.  All other characters in the
       template become a literal part of the core filename.  The
       template may include '/' characters, which are interpreted as
       delimiters for directory names.  The maximum size of the
       resulting core filename is 128 bytes (64 bytes before Linux
       2.6.19).  The default value in this file is "core".  For backward
       compatibility, if /proc/sys/kernel/core_pattern does not include
       %p and /proc/sys/kernel/core_uses_pid (see below) is nonzero,
       then .PID will be appended to the core filename.

       Paths are interpreted according to the settings that are active
       for the crashing process.  That means the crashing process's
       mount namespace (see mount_namespaces(7)), its current working
       directory (found via getcwd(2)), and its root directory (see

       Since Linux 2.4, Linux has also provided a more primitive method
       of controlling the name of the core dump file.  If the
       /proc/sys/kernel/core_uses_pid file contains the value 0, then a
       core dump file is simply named core.  If this file contains a
       nonzero value, then the core dump file includes the process ID in
       a name of the form core.PID.

       Since Linux 3.6, if /proc/sys/fs/suid_dumpable is set to 2
       ("suidsafe"), the pattern must be either an absolute pathname
       (starting with a leading '/' character) or a pipe, as defined

   Piping core dumps to a program
       Since Linux 2.6.19, Linux supports an alternate syntax for the
       /proc/sys/kernel/core_pattern file.  If the first character of
       this file is a pipe symbol (|), then the remainder of the line is
       interpreted as the command-line for a user-space program (or
       script) that is to be executed.

       Since Linux 5.3.0, the pipe template is split on spaces into an
       argument list before the template parameters are expanded.  In
       earlier kernels, the template parameters are expanded first and
       the resulting string is split on spaces into an argument list.
       This means that in earlier kernels executable names added by the
       %e and %E template parameters could get split into multiple
       arguments.  So the core dump handler needs to put the executable
       names as the last argument and ensure it joins all parts of the
       executable name using spaces.  Executable names with multiple
       spaces in them are not correctly represented in earlier kernels,
       meaning that the core dump handler needs to use mechanisms to
       find the executable name.

       Instead of being written to a file, the core dump is given as
       standard input to the program.  Note the following points:

       •  The program must be specified using an absolute pathname (or a
          pathname relative to the root directory, /), and must
          immediately follow the '|' character.

       •  The command-line arguments can include any of the % specifiers
          listed above.  For example, to pass the PID of the process
          that is being dumped, specify %p in an argument.

       •  The process created to run the program runs as user and group

       •  Running as root does not confer any exceptional security
          bypasses.  Namely, LSMs (e.g., SELinux) are still active and
          may prevent the handler from accessing details about the
          crashed process via /proc/pid.

       •  The program pathname is interpreted with respect to the
          initial mount namespace as it is always executed there.  It is
          not affected by the settings (e.g., root directory, mount
          namespace, current working directory) of the crashing process.

       •  The process runs in the initial namespaces (PID, mount, user,
          and so on) and not in the namespaces of the crashing process.
          One can utilize specifiers such as %P to find the right
          /proc/pid directory and probe/enter the crashing process's
          namespaces if needed.

       •  The process starts with its current working directory as the
          root directory.  If desired, it is possible change to the
          working directory of the dumping process by employing the
          value provided by the %P specifier to change to the location
          of the dumping process via /proc/pid/cwd.

       •  Command-line arguments can be supplied to the program (since
          Linux 2.6.24), delimited by white space (up to a total line
          length of 128 bytes).

       •  The RLIMIT_CORE limit is not enforced for core dumps that are
          piped to a program via this mechanism.

       When collecting core dumps via a pipe to a user-space program, it
       can be useful for the collecting program to gather data about the
       crashing process from that process's /proc/pid directory.  In
       order to do this safely, the kernel must wait for the program
       collecting the core dump to exit, so as not to remove the
       crashing process's /proc/pid files prematurely.  This in turn
       creates the possibility that a misbehaving collecting program can
       block the reaping of a crashed process by simply never exiting.

       Since Linux 2.6.32, the /proc/sys/kernel/core_pipe_limit can be
       used to defend against this possibility.  The value in this file
       defines how many concurrent crashing processes may be piped to
       user-space programs in parallel.  If this value is exceeded, then
       those crashing processes above this value are noted in the kernel
       log and their core dumps are skipped.

       A value of 0 in this file is special.  It indicates that
       unlimited processes may be captured in parallel, but that no
       waiting will take place (i.e., the collecting program is not
       guaranteed access to /proc/<crashing-PID>).  The default value
       for this file is 0.

   Controlling which mappings are written to the core dump
       Since Linux 2.6.23, the Linux-specific /proc/pid/coredump_filter
       file can be used to control which memory segments are written to
       the core dump file in the event that a core dump is performed for
       the process with the corresponding process ID.

       The value in the file is a bit mask of memory mapping types (see
       mmap(2)).  If a bit is set in the mask, then memory mappings of
       the corresponding type are dumped; otherwise they are not dumped.
       The bits in this file have the following meanings:

           bit 0  Dump anonymous private mappings.
           bit 1  Dump anonymous shared mappings.
           bit 2  Dump file-backed private mappings.
           bit 3  Dump file-backed shared mappings.
           bit 4 (since Linux 2.6.24)
                  Dump ELF headers.
           bit 5 (since Linux 2.6.28)
                  Dump private huge pages.
           bit 6 (since Linux 2.6.28)
                  Dump shared huge pages.
           bit 7 (since Linux 4.4)
                  Dump private DAX pages.
           bit 8 (since Linux 4.4)
                  Dump shared DAX pages.

       By default, the following bits are set: 0, 1, 4 (if the
       CONFIG_CORE_DUMP_DEFAULT_ELF_HEADERS kernel configuration option
       is enabled), and 5.  This default can be modified at boot time
       using the coredump_filter boot option.

       The value of this file is displayed in hexadecimal.  (The default
       value is thus displayed as 33.)

       Memory-mapped I/O pages such as frame buffer are never dumped,
       and virtual DSO (vdso(7)) pages are always dumped, regardless of
       the coredump_filter value.

       A child process created via fork(2) inherits its parent's
       coredump_filter value; the coredump_filter value is preserved
       across an execve(2).

       It can be useful to set coredump_filter in the parent shell
       before running a program, for example:

           $ echo 0x7 > /proc/self/coredump_filter
           $ ./some_program

       This file is provided only if the kernel was built with the
       CONFIG_ELF_CORE configuration option.

   Core dumps and systemd
       On systems using the systemd(1) init framework, core dumps may be
       placed in a location determined by systemd(1).  To do this,
       systemd(1) employs the core_pattern feature that allows piping
       core dumps to a program.  One can verify this by checking whether
       core dumps are being piped to the systemd-coredump(8) program:

           $ cat /proc/sys/kernel/core_pattern
           |/usr/lib/systemd/systemd-coredump %P %u %g %s %t %c %e

       In this case, core dumps will be placed in the location
       configured for systemd-coredump(8), typically as lz4(1)
       compressed files in the directory /var/lib/systemd/coredump/.
       One can list the core dumps that have been recorded by
       systemd-coredump(8) using coredumpctl(1):

       $ coredumpctl list | tail -5
       Wed 2017-10-11 22:25:30 CEST  2748 1000 1000 3 present  /usr/bin/sleep
       Thu 2017-10-12 06:29:10 CEST  2716 1000 1000 3 present  /usr/bin/sleep
       Thu 2017-10-12 06:30:50 CEST  2767 1000 1000 3 present  /usr/bin/sleep
       Thu 2017-10-12 06:37:40 CEST  2918 1000 1000 3 present  /usr/bin/cat
       Thu 2017-10-12 08:13:07 CEST  2955 1000 1000 3 present  /usr/bin/cat

       The information shown for each core dump includes the date and
       time of the dump, the PID, UID, and GID  of the dumping process,
       the signal number that caused the core dump, and the pathname of
       the executable that was being run by the dumped process.  Various
       options to coredumpctl(1) allow a specified coredump file to be
       pulled from the systemd(1) location into a specified file.  For
       example, to extract the core dump for PID 2955 shown above to a
       file named core in the current directory, one could use:

           $ coredumpctl dump 2955 -o core

       For more extensive details, see the coredumpctl(1) manual page.

       To (persistently) disable the systemd(1) mechanism that archives
       core dumps, restoring to something more like traditional Linux
       behavior, one can set an override for the systemd(1) mechanism,
       using something like:

           # echo "kernel.core_pattern=core.%p" > \
           # /lib/systemd/systemd-sysctl

       It is also possible to temporarily (i.e., until the next reboot)
       change the core_pattern setting using a command such as the
       following (which causes the names of core dump files to include
       the executable name as well as the number of the signal which
       triggered the core dump):

           # sysctl -w kernel.core_pattern="%e-%s.core"

NOTES         top

       The gdb(1) gcore command can be used to obtain a core dump of a
       running process.

       In Linux versions up to and including 2.6.27, if a multithreaded
       process (or, more precisely, a process that shares its memory
       with another process by being created with the CLONE_VM flag of
       clone(2)) dumps core, then the process ID is always appended to
       the core filename, unless the process ID was already included
       elsewhere in the filename via a %p specification in
       /proc/sys/kernel/core_pattern.  (This is primarily useful when
       employing the obsolete LinuxThreads implementation, where each
       thread of a process has a different PID.)

EXAMPLES         top

       The program below can be used to demonstrate the use of the pipe
       syntax in the /proc/sys/kernel/core_pattern file.  The following
       shell session demonstrates the use of this program (compiled to
       create an executable named core_pattern_pipe_test):

           $ cc -o core_pattern_pipe_test core_pattern_pipe_test.c
           $ su
           # echo "|$PWD/core_pattern_pipe_test %p UID=%u GID=%g sig=%s" > \
           # exit
           $ sleep 100
           ^\                     # type control-backslash
           Quit (core dumped)
           $ cat
           Total bytes in core dump: 282624

   Program source

       /* core_pattern_pipe_test.c */

       #define _GNU_SOURCE
       #include <sys/stat.h>
       #include <fcntl.h>
       #include <limits.h>
       #include <stdio.h>
       #include <stdlib.h>
       #include <unistd.h>

       #define BUF_SIZE 1024

       main(int argc, char *argv[])
           ssize_t nread, tot;
           char buf[BUF_SIZE];
           FILE *fp;
           char cwd[PATH_MAX];

           /* Change our current working directory to that of the
              crashing process. */

           snprintf(cwd, PATH_MAX, "/proc/%s/cwd", argv[1]);

           /* Write output to file "" in that directory. */

           fp = fopen("", "w+");
           if (fp == NULL)

           /* Display command-line arguments given to core_pattern
              pipe program. */

           fprintf(fp, "argc=%d\n", argc);
           for (size_t j = 0; j < argc; j++)
               fprintf(fp, "argc[%zu]=<%s>\n", j, argv[j]);

           /* Count bytes in standard input (the core dump). */

           tot = 0;
           while ((nread = read(STDIN_FILENO, buf, BUF_SIZE)) > 0)
               tot += nread;
           fprintf(fp, "Total bytes in core dump: %zd\n", tot);


SEE ALSO         top

       bash(1), coredumpctl(1), gdb(1), getrlimit(2), mmap(2), prctl(2),
       sigaction(2), elf(5), proc(5), pthreads(7), signal(7),

Linux man-pages (unreleased)     (date)                          core(5)

Pages that refer to this page: getrlimit(2)madvise(2)prctl(2)sigaction(2)wait(2)coredump.conf(5)elf(5)proc(5)systemd.exec(5)kernel-command-line(7)signal(7)systemd-coredump(8)