Wood's Words

Monitoring Java Memory Usage with Jstat and Check MK

I recently wrote a script called check_jvm_memory to monitor JVM memory usage with jstat and Check MK. Let’s go over how to use it.

  1. Requirements
  2. Quick Setup
  3. Install
  4. Configure
    1. Name
    2. PidCommand
    3. Threshold
    4. Label

Requirements

The script runs as a local check, so it requires the Check MK agent.

For obvious reasons, it requires that you have a running Java process that you want to monitor.

It requires pidof unless you configure the PidCommand option.

It also requires perl, and a version of jstat that’s compatible with the Java process you’re monitoring.

Quick Setup

Grab check_jvm_memory from GitHub and drop it in the Check MK script directory on the host you want to monitor. The path to the script directory varies depending on how the Check MK agent was set up. On my systems, it’s /usr/share/check-mk-agent/local.

If everything’s set up right, running the script should give you output that starts with a P, similar to this:

P JVM_MEMORY.SurvivorSpace1 SurvivorSpace1=0.000000% SurvivorSpace1 0.0% (0.00 / 25.56 MB)
P JVM_MEMORY.OldGen OldGen=26.603203% OldGen 26.6% (340.52 / 1280.00 MB)
P JVM_MEMORY.SurvivorSpace0 SurvivorSpace0=1.325642% SurvivorSpace0 1.3% (0.34 / 25.56 MB)
P JVM_MEMORY.EdenSpace EdenSpace=13.898290% EdenSpace 13.9% (28.47 / 204.88 MB)
P JVM_MEMORY.MetaSpace MetaSpace=98.491438% MetaSpace 98.5% (249.63 / 253.45 MB)
P JVM_MEMORY.CompressedClassSpace CompressedClassSpace=98.215967% CompressedClassSpace 98.2% (32.61 / 33.20 MB)

Once Check MK inventories the host, you should be able to add the new service checks through WATO in the usual way.

Install

I prefer to install the script to /usr/local/bin/check_jvm_memory, then symlink it from the Check MK script directory using a name to indicate the service it checks. For example, to monitor Tomcat I symlink the script from /usr/share/check-mk-agent/local/300/check_tomcat_memory. Using the 300 subdirectory causes Check MK to run the script every 300 seconds (5 minutes), and the check_tomcat_memory filename makes the script produce this output:

P TOMCAT_MEMORY.SurvivorSpace1 SurvivorSpace1=0.000000% SurvivorSpace1 0.0% (0.00 / 25.56 MB)
P TOMCAT_MEMORY.OldGen OldGen=26.603203% OldGen 26.6% (340.52 / 1280.00 MB)
P TOMCAT_MEMORY.SurvivorSpace0 SurvivorSpace0=1.325642% SurvivorSpace0 1.3% (0.34 / 25.56 MB)
P TOMCAT_MEMORY.EdenSpace EdenSpace=25.776531% EdenSpace 25.8% (52.81 / 204.88 MB)
P TOMCAT_MEMORY.MetaSpace MetaSpace=98.491438% MetaSpace 98.5% (249.63 / 253.45 MB)
P TOMCAT_MEMORY.CompressedClassSpace CompressedClassSpace=98.215967% CompressedClassSpace 98.2% (32.61 / 33.20 MB)

Since the script is called as check_tomcat_memory and not check_jvm_memory, the service check names start with TOMCAT_MEMORY instead of JVM_MEMORY. This behavior can be overriden by creating a configuration file at /etc/check-mk-agent/check_tomcat_memory.cfg, and including the Name option described below.

I recommend setting a PidCommand in the configuration so that the script will always find the correct Java process to monitor if there are multiple Java processes running on the system. You might also want to configure warning and critical thresholds for OldGen as described in the Threshold section, and for PermGen as well on Java 7 and under.

Configure

check_jvm_memory looks for its configuration in the /etc/check-mk-agent directory. The name of the config file is the name of the script plus a .cfg extension. There’s an example check_jvm_memory.cfg on GitHub.

Configuration options are described below.

Name

This lets you set a service check name that’s not derived from the script’s filename. For instance, here’s the script’s output with Name: TomcatMemory set:

P TomcatMemory.SurvivorSpace1 SurvivorSpace1=0.000000% SurvivorSpace1 0.0% (0.00 / 25.56 MB)
P TomcatMemory.OldGen OldGen=26.603203% OldGen 26.6% (340.52 / 1280.00 MB)
P TomcatMemory.SurvivorSpace0 SurvivorSpace0=1.325642% SurvivorSpace0 1.3% (0.34 / 25.56 MB)
P TomcatMemory.EdenSpace EdenSpace=45.458359% EdenSpace 45.5% (93.13 / 204.88 MB)
P TomcatMemory.MetaSpace MetaSpace=98.491438% MetaSpace 98.5% (249.63 / 253.45 MB)
P TomcatMemory.CompressedClassSpace CompressedClassSpace=98.215967% CompressedClassSpace 98.2% (32.61 / 33.20 MB)

Note that Name can’t contain spaces, or else Check MK won’t be able to parse the script’s output.

PidCommand

check_jvm_memory locates the process ID (pid) of the Java process it’s monitoring using a command specified by the PidCommand option. check_jvm_memory will look at the first line of output from this command, find the first integer, and use that as the pid to pass to jstat.

The default PidCommand is pidof java.

This option is especially useful on systems that have multiple Java processes running on them. On such systems, you can monitor each process with a differently-named check_jvm_memory script, then configure a different PidCommand for each of those scripts.

Here are a few example commands you could use with this configuration option. In every case, the script would monitor process ID 9170 since that’s the first integer on the first line of output.

root@beemo:~# pidof java
9170 4978 4443
root@beemo:~# service tomcat status
tomcat (pid 9170) is running...                            [  OK  ]
root@beemo:~# cat /var/run/tomcat.pid
9170

Threshold

This option is used to set the threshold for each service check. The value you set is used as the ;warn;crit;min;max values for Check MK’s metrics. Read Check MK’s documentation for a complete description of how metrics work.

To explain by way of example, suppose you want Check MK to put the OldGen and PermGen service checks into Warning state if they go over 98%, and Critical state if they go over 99%. You can do that by configuring these thresholds:

Threshold OldGen:  ;98;99
Threshold PermGen: ;98;99

Label

The Label config option lets you set a label that’s used in the service name, metrics (a.k.a. perfdata), and status detail (a.k.a. description) of the check’s output. Most people won’t ever need to use this configuration option.

The Label option is best explained by describing how check_jvm_memory does its thing. Internally, it gets its data using a jstat command similar to the one shown below. The output is a bit confusing, but to use a couple examples, the S0U here indicates how much of Survivor Space #0 is Used (in KB). Similarly, S0C is Survivor Space #0’s total Capacity.

woody@beemo:~# jstat -gc 9170
 S0C    S1C    S0U    S1U      EC       EU        OC         OU       MC     MU    CCSC   CCSU   YGC     YGCT    FGC    FGCT     GCT
26176.0 26176.0 347.0   0.0   209792.0 178909.4 1310720.0   348693.5  259532.0 255616.8 33996.0 33389.5     84    3.658   5      2.046    5.703

After parsing that data, check_jvm_memory looks at every field header ending with a U, looks up the matching header that ends in C, and uses the two values for those columns to compute the percent usage of that area of memory.

If there were no labels set, the script would report that S0 has a usage of 1.33% in the example above, which isn’t very helpful – what the heck is S0? To make the output more human friendly, you can configure a label for S0 so that the script reports 1.33% usage for SurvivorSpace0 instead:

Label S0:  SurvivorSpace0

Internally, the script has default labels for every area of memory in Java 7 and Java 8, so you shouldn’t need to configure any labels. But if you don’t like the labels that check_jvm_memory uses, or if other versions of Java ever add new areas of memory, you can configure how they appear in the script’s output using the Label configuration option.

Note that any Thresholds you have configured need to match the Labels you set. Also note that Labels can’t contain spaces, or else Check MK won’t be able to parse the script’s output.