Profiling Kubernetes

This document explain how to plug in profiler and how to profile Kubernetes services. To get familiar with the tools mentioned below, it is strongly recommended to read Profiling Go Programs.

Profiling library

Go comes with inbuilt ‘net/http/pprof’ profiling library and profiling web service. The way service works is binding debug/pprof/ subtree on a running webserver to the profiler. Reading from subpages of debug/pprof returns pprof-formatted profiles of the running binary. The output can be processed offline by the tool of choice, or used as an input to handy ‘go tool pprof’, which can graphically represent the result.

Adding profiling to services to APIserver.

TL;DR: Add lines:

m.mux.HandleFunc("/debug/pprof/", pprof.Index)
m.mux.HandleFunc("/debug/pprof/profile", pprof.Profile)
m.mux.HandleFunc("/debug/pprof/symbol", pprof.Symbol)

to the init(c *Config) method in ‘pkg/master/master.go’ and import ‘net/http/pprof’ package.

In most use cases to use profiler service it’s enough to do ‘import _ net/http/pprof’, which automatically registers a handler in the default http.Server. Slight inconvenience is that APIserver uses default server for intra-cluster communication, so plugging profiler to it is not really useful. In ‘pkg/kubelet/server/server.go’ more servers are created and started as separate goroutines. The one that is usually serving external traffic is secureServer. The handler for this traffic is defined in ‘pkg/master/master.go’ and stored in Handler variable. It is created from HTTP multiplexer, so the only thing that needs to be done is adding profiler handler functions to this multiplexer. This is exactly what lines after TL;DR do.

Connecting to the profiler

Even when running profiler I found not really straightforward to use ‘go tool pprof’ with it. The problem is that at least for dev purposes certificates generated for APIserver are not signed by anyone trusted and because secureServer serves only secure traffic it isn’t straightforward to connect to the service. The best workaround I found is by creating an ssh tunnel from the kubernetes_master open unsecured port to some external server, and use this server as a proxy. To save everyone looking for correct ssh flags, it is done by running:

ssh kubernetes_master -L<local_port>:localhost:8080

or analogous one for you Cloud provider. Afterwards you can e.g. run

go tool pprof http://localhost:<local_port>/debug/pprof/profile

to get 30 sec. CPU profile.

Contention profiling

To enable contention profiling you need to add line rt.SetBlockProfileRate(1) in addition to m.mux.HandleFunc(...) added before (rt stands for runtime in master.go). This enables ‘debug/pprof/block’ subpage, which can be used as an input to go tool pprof.

Profiling in tests

To gather a profile from a test, the HTTP interface is probably not suitable. Instead, you can add the -cpuprofile flag to your KUBE_TEST_ARGS, e.g.

make test-integration WHAT="./test/integration/scheduler" KUBE_TEST_ARGS="-cpuprofile cpu.out"
go tool pprof cpu.out

See the ‘go test’ flags for how to capture other types of profiles.

Profiling in a benchmark test

Gathering a profile from a benchmark test works in the same way as regular tests, but sometimes there may be expensive setup that you want excluded from the profile. (i.e. any time you would use b.ResetTimer())

To solve this problem, you can explicitly start the profile in your test code like so.

func BenchmarkMyFeature(b *testing.B) {
  // Expensive test setup...
  f, err := os.Create("bench_profile.out")
  if err != nil {
    log.Fatal("could not create profile file: ", err)
  if err := pprof.StartCPUProfile(f); err != nil {
    log.Fatal("could not start CPU profile: ", err)
  defer pprof.StopCPUProfile()
  // Rest of the test...

Note: Code added to a test to gather CPU profiles should not be merged. It is meant to be temporary while you create an analyze profiles.