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How to configure kernel crash dumps on a Linux server

Article ID: 10044, created on Mar 9, 2011, last review on Mar 2, 2015

  • Parallels Cloud Server
  • Parallels Virtuozzo Containers for Linux
  • Parallels Server


Sometimes it is useful to configure kernel crash dumps in order to troubleshoot panics on hardware servers with Parallels Cloud Server, Parallels Server Bare Metal, or Parallels Virtuozzo Containers for Linux.


  1. Install kexec-tools on the Hardware Node:

    [root@pvcfl46x64 ~]# yum install kexec-tools

    NOTE: In RHEL 6.x-based distributions, kexec-tools is installed automatically and the rest of the configuration is applied as well. These steps can be used to check the configuration.

  2. Append the GRUB configuration with the kernel option crashkernel=128M@16M for i386 or x86_64 and with crashkernel=256M@256M for Itanium for PVC versions prior to 4.7. For versions more recent than 4.7, consider using crashkernel=129M@0M for i386 and x86_64 architectures.

    [root@pvcfl46x64 ~]# grep crash /etc/grub.conf
    kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.18-028stab070.14 ro root=LABEL=/1 debug console=ttyS0,115200 console=tty crashkernel=128M@16M

    NOTE: For 2.6.32-042stabXXX kernels and newer releases, be sure to use the "crashkernel=129M@0M" option in p.2.

  3. Reboot HW.

  4. Enable Kdump on HW:

    [root@pvcfl46x64 ~]# chkconfig kdump on
    [root@pvcfl46x64 ~]# chkconfig --list kdump
    kdump 0:off 1:off 2:on 3:on 4:on 5:on 6:off
  5. Make sure that the partition specified in kdump configuration is big enough to store kernel dumps. The amount of available free space should be big enough to store several dumps of the size equal to the RAM.

    [root@pvcfl46x64 ~]# cat /etc/kdump.conf
    path /vz/crash
  6. Start Kdump on HW:

    [root@pvcfl46x64 ~]# service kdump start
    No kdump initial ramdisk found. [WARNING]
    Rebuilding /boot/initrd-2.6.18-028stab070.14kdump.img
    Starting kdump: [ OK ]

    NOTE: If you are configuring crash dumps on a Parallels Server Bare Metal machine, then add Parallels modules to "blacklist" before starting/restarting kdump:

    [root@psbm5~]# tail -n1 /etc/kdump.conf
    blacklist extra/parallels/

    Or you may stop Parallels Hypervisor before creating the initrd image, so that modules are not included in the image:

    ~# service parallels-server stop
    ~# touch /etc/kdump.conf
    ~# service kdump restart
  7. If you want to store dumps on the external server, edit "/etc/kdump.conf" to use the appropriate server:

    [root@pvcfl46x64 ~]# cat /etc/kdump.conf
    net root@
  8. Propagate settings:

    [root@pvcfl46x64 ~]# service kdump propagate
    Generating new ssh keys... done.
    root@'s password:
    /root/.ssh/ has been added to ~root/.ssh/authorized_keys2 on
    [root@pvcfl46x64 ~]#
  9. Restart Kdump:

    [root@pvcfl46x64 ~]# service kdump restart
    Stopping kdump: [ OK ]
    Detected change(s) the following file(s):
    Rebuilding /boot/initrd-2.6.18-028stab070.14kdump.img
    Starting kdump: [ OK ]
    [root@pvcfl46x64 ~]#

Now, when the kernel crashes, the dump can be found under "/var/crash/pvcfl46x64/."

On a non-production server, you can test the configuration as follows. For a production server, ensure that critical services are stopped to avoid possible data loss:

# echo 1 > /proc/sys/kernel/sysrq
# echo c > /proc/sysrq-trigger

If everything is OK, you should see an output on the server console that looks similar to that displayed below:

Console screen with a kernel crash

The crash dump should appear as follows:

[root@pvcfl46x64 ~]# ls -la /var/crash/2011-03-03-05\:55/
total 649940
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Mar 3 05:56 .
drwxr-xr-x 3 root root 4096 Mar 3 05:55 ..
-r-------- 1 root root 2018588492 Mar 3 05:56 vmcore

Additional information

Parallels Containers user guide: also has a lot of useful information about kernel crash troubleshooting:

In case of using Ksplice Uptrack solution for rebootless security updates, the generated crash dumps are not appropriate for analysis by Parallels Support. Such dumps should be forwarded to Ksplice Team.

Also see

10055 How to configure memory dump generation on Windows

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