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Chapter 18. Getting started with perf

As a system administrator, you can use the perf tool to collect and analyze performance data of your system.

18.1. Introduction to perf

The perf user-space tool interfaces with the kernel-based subsystem Performance Counters for Linux (PCL). perf is a powerful tool that uses the Performance Monitoring Unit (PMU) to measure, record, and monitor a variety of hardware and software events. perf also supports tracepoints, kprobes, and uprobes.

18.2. Installing perf

This procedure installs the perf user-space tool.


  • Install the perf tool:

    # yum install perf

18.3. Common perf commands

perf stat
This command provides overall statistics for common performance events, including instructions executed and clock cycles consumed. Options allow for selection of events other than the default measurement events.
perf record
This command records performance data into a file,, which can be later analyzed using the perf report command.
perf report
This command reads and displays the performance data from the file created by perf record.
perf list
This command lists the events available on a particular machine. These events will vary based on performance monitoring hardware and software configuration of the system.
perf top
This command performs a similar function to the top utility. It generates and displays a performance counter profile in realtime.
perf trace
This command performs a similar function to the strace tool. It monitors the system calls used by a specified thread or process and all signals received by that application.
perf help
This command displays a complete list of perf commands.

Additional resources

  • Add the --help option to a subcommand to open the man page.