Using the Skara Tooling

I’m writing this for myself as much as I’m writing this to share. After only a day of using JMC with Skara, I’ve fallen in love with it. I spend less time painstakingly putting together review e-mails, copying and pasting code to comment on certain lines of code, cloning separate repos to do parallel work efficiently, setting up new workspaces for the these repos etc. Props to the Skara team for saving me time by cutting out a big chunk of the stuff not related to coding and a whole lot of ceremony.

Note that the Skara tooling can be used outside of the scope of OpenJDK – git sync alone is a good reason for why everyone who wants to reduce ceremony can benefit from the Skara tooling.

So, here are a few tips on how to get started:

  1. Clone Skara:
    git clone
  2. Build it:
    gradlew (win) or sh gradlew (mac/linux)
  3. Install it:
    git config --global include.path "%CD%/skara.gitconfig" (win) or git config --global include.path "$PWD/skara.gitconfig" (mac/linux)
  4. Set where to sync your forks from:
    git config --global sync.from upstream

For folks on Red Hat distros, 2 and 3 can be replaced by make install. For more information on the installation, see the Skara wiki.

Some examples:

To sync your fork with upstream and pull the changes:

git sync --pull

To list the open PRs:

git pr list

To create a PR:

git pr create

To push your committed changes in your branch to your fork, creating the remote branch:

git publish

JMC Workflow

Below is the typical work-flow for JMC.

First ensure that you have a fork of JMC. Either fork it on, or on the command line:
git fork jmc

You typically just create that one fork and stick with it.

  1. (Optional) Sync up your fork with upstream:
    git sync --pull
  2. Create a branch to work on, with a name you pick, typically related to the work you plan on doing:
    git checkout –b <branchname>
  3. Make your changes / fix your bug / add amazing stuff
  4. (Optional) Run jcheck locally:
    git jcheck local
  5. Push your changes to the new branch on your fork:
    git publish (which is pretty much git push --set-upstream origin <branchname>)
  6. Create the PR, either on GitHub, or from the command line:
    git pr create

Summary / TL;DR

  • I ❤️ Skara

Mission Control is Now Officially on GitHub!

Since this morning, the JDK Mission Control (JMC) project has gone full Skara! mc_512x512This means that the next version (JMC 8.0) will be developed over at GitHub.

To contribute to JDK Mission Control, you (or the company you work for) need to have signed an OCA, like for any other OpenJDK-project. If you already have an OpenJDK username, you can associate your GitHub account with it.

Just after we open sourced JMC, I created a temporary mirror on GitHub to experiment with working with JMC at GitHub. That mirror is now closed for business. Please use the official OpenJDK one from now on:

If you forked or stared the old repo, please feel free to fork and/or star the new one!

Compressing Flight Recordings

Flight recordings are nifty binary recordings of what is going on in the runtime and the application running on it. A flight recording contains a wide variety of information, such as various kinds of profiling information, threat stall information and a whole host of other information. All adhering to a common event model and with the ability to dynamically add new event types.

In the versions of JFR since JDK 9, some care was taken to reduce the memory footprint by LEB 128 encoding integers, noting that many things, like constant pool indices, usually occupy relatively low numbers. The memory footprint was cut in about half, compared to previous versions of JFR.

Now, sometimes you may want to compress the JFR data even further. The question then is – how much can you save if you compress the recordings further, and what algorithms would be best suited for doing the compression? What if you want the compression activity to use as little CPU as possible?

My friend and colleague at Datadog, Jaroslav Bachorik, set out to answer that question for some typical recording shapes that we see at Datadog, using a set of compression algorithms from Apache Commons Compress (bzip2, LZMA, LZ4), the built in GZip, a dedicated LZ4 library, XZ, and Snappy.

Below is a table of his findings for “small” (~1.5 MiB) and “large” (~5 MiB) recordings from one of our services. The benchmark was run on a MacBook Pro 2019. Now, you’d have to test on your own recordings to truly know, but I suspect that these results will hold up pretty well with other kinds of loads as well.

Algorithm Recording Size Throughput Compression Ratio Utility
Gzip small 24.299 3.28 79.647
Gzip large 5.762 3.54 20.436
BZip2 small 6.616 3.51 23.198
BZip2 large 1.518 3.84 5.826
LZ4 small 133.115 2.40 319.394
LZ4 large 38.901 2.57 100.009
LZ4 (Apache) small 0.055 2.74 0.152
LZ4 (Apache) large 0.013 3.00 0.039
LZMA small 1.828 4.31 7.882
LZMA large 0.351 4.37 1.533
Snappy small 134.598 2.27 305.494
Snappy large 35.986 2.49 89.692
XZ small 1.847 4.31 7.964
XZ large 0.349 4.37 1.523

Throughput is recordings/s. Utility is throughput * compression ratio, and meant to capture the combination of compression strength and performance. Note that the numbers are not normalized – only compare numbers in the same size category.

Summary / TL;DR

  • The built-in GZip is doing a fairly good/balanced job of compressing flight recordings
  • You can get the best utility out of LZ4, closely followed by Snappy, but you sacrifice some compression
  • If you’re prepared to pay for it, LZMA and XZ give a good compression ratio
  • All credz to Jaroslav for his JMH-benchmark and all the data

JFR is Coming to OpenJDK 8!

I recently realized that this isn’t common knowledge, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about the JDK Flight Recorder coming to OpenJDK 8! The backport is a collaboration between Red Hat, Alibaba, Azul and Datadog. These are exciting times for production time profiling nerds like me. Smile

The repository for the backport is available here:

The proposed CSR is available here:

The backport is keeping the same interfaces and pretty much the same implementation as is available in OpenJDK 11, and is fully compatible. There were a few security fixes, due to there not being any module system to rely upon for isolation of the internals, also, some events will not be available (e.g. the Module related events) but other than that the API and tools work exactly the same.

JDK Mission Control will, of course, be updated to work flawlessly with the OpenJDK 8 version of JFR as well. The changes will be minute and are only necessary since Mission Control has some built-in assumptions that no longer hold true.

You can already build and try out OpenJDK 8 with JFR simply by building the JDK available in the repository mentioned above. Also, Aleksey Shipilev provide binaries – see here for details.

Have fun! Smile