Getting started with Systemtap (Part 2)

I’ll continue part 2 of this article on how I built Systemtap from source and installed it.

After I fetched the  source with:

git clone git://

A “systemtap” directory with source was created in my pwd. I like to build out-of-tree to keep the source pristine, so I created a new build directory:

mkdir systemtap_obj
cd systemtap_obj

and ran the configure step


On a Fedora 9 LiveCD install, with a few extra custom rpm’s added, I found I had to install some libraries. The steps to install them are all a bit similar, but here is an example of a missing library error I encountered:

checking sys/capability.h usability... no
checking sys/capability.h presence... no
checking for sys/capability.h... no
configure: error: cannot find required libcap header (libcap-devel may need to be installed)

And here is how I installed the library to fix for this error:

sudo yum install libcap-devel

I had to rerun the configure script several times to catch all the missing libraries.  In the end I had to install both libcap-devel, and elfutils-devel. Your experience may vary depending on your install.

And finally,  I built Systemtap with:


The build took a few minutes. I installed Systemtap with:

sudo make install

The whole process from fetching source, to building it, to installing it took less than five minutes, which was a pleasant surprise.

Tommorrow I’ll take a look at example scripts, but here is a neat example I ran:

sudo stap ~/systemtap/testsuite/systemtap.examples/syscalls_by_proc.stp
Collecting data... Type Ctrl-C to exit and display results

#SysCalls  Process Name

917        thunderbird-bin
807        firefox
489        hal-system-kill
390        tpb
206        dbus-daemon

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