Chapter 17. Configuring kdump on the command line

Plan and build your kdump environment.

17.1. Estimating the kdump size

When planning and building your kdump environment, it is important to know how much space the crash dump file requires.

The makedumpfile --mem-usage command estimates how much space the crash dump file requires. It generates a memory usage report. The report helps you determine the dump level and which pages are safe to be excluded.


  • Execute the following command to generate a memory usage report:

    # makedumpfile --mem-usage /proc/kcore
    ZERO          501635      yes        Pages filled with zero
    CACHE         51657       yes        Cache pages
    CACHE_PRIVATE 5442        yes        Cache pages + private
    USER          16301       yes        User process pages
    FREE          77738211    yes        Free pages
    KERN_DATA     1333192     no         Dumpable kernel data

The makedumpfile --mem-usage command reports required memory in pages. This means that you must calculate the size of memory in use against the kernel page size.

17.2. Configuring kdump memory usage

The memory for kdump is reserved during the system boot. The memory size is set in the system Grand Unified Bootloader (GRUB) configuration. The memory size depends on the value of the crashkernel= option specified in the configuration file and the size of the system physical memory.

The crashkernel= option can be defined in multiple ways. You can either specify the crashkernel= value or configure the auto option. The crashkernel=auto parameter reserves memory automatically, based on the total amount of physical memory in the system. When configured, the kernel will automatically reserve an appropriate amount of required memory for the capture kernel. This helps to prevent Out-of-Memory (OOM) errors.


The automatic memory allocation for kdump varies based on system hardware architecture and available memory size.

If the system has less than the minimum memory threshold for automatic allocation, you can configure the amount of reserved memory manually.



  1. Prepare the crashkernel= option.

    • For example, to reserve 128 MB of memory, use the following:

    • Alternatively, you can set the amount of reserved memory to a variable depending on the total amount of installed memory. The syntax for memory reservation into a variable is crashkernel=<range1>:<size1>,<range2>:<size2>. For example:


      The above example reserves 64 MB of memory if the total amount of system memory is between 512 MB and 2 GB. If the total amount of memory is more than 2 GB, 128 MB is reserved.

    • Offset the reserved memory.

      Some systems require to reserve memory with a certain fixed offset since crashkernel reservation is very early, and it wants to reserve some area for special usage. If the offset is set, the reserved memory begins there. To offset the reserved memory, use the following syntax:


      In this example, kdump reserves 128 MB of memory starting at 16 MB (physical address 0x01000000). If the offset parameter is set to 0 or omitted entirely, kdump offsets the reserved memory automatically. You can also use this syntax when setting a variable memory reservation. In that case, the offset is always specified last. For example:

  2. Apply the crashkernel= option to your boot loader configuration:

    # grubby --update-kernel=ALL --args="crashkernel=<value>"

    Replace <value> with the value of the the crashkernel= option that you prepared in the previous step.

17.3. Configuring the kdump target

The crash dump is usually stored as a file in a local file system, written directly to a device. Alternatively, you can set up for the crash dump to be sent over a network using the NFS or SSH protocols. Only one of these options to preserve a crash dump file can be set at a time. The default behavior is to store it in the /var/crash/ directory of the local file system.



  • To store the crash dump file in /var/crash/ directory of the local file system, edit the /etc/kdump.conf file and specify the path:

    path /var/crash

    The option path /var/crash represents the path to the file system in which kdump saves the crash dump file.

    • When you specify a dump target in the /etc/kdump.conf file, then the path is relative to the specified dump target.
    • When you do not specify a dump target in the /etc/kdump.conf file, then the path represents the absolute path from the root directory.

    Depending on what is mounted in the current system, the dump target and the adjusted dump path are taken automatically.

    Example 17.1. The kdump target configuration

    # grep -v ^# /etc/kdump.conf | grep -v ^$
    ext4 /dev/mapper/vg00-varcrashvol
    path /var/crash
    core_collector makedumpfile -c --message-level 1 -d 31

    Here, the dump target is specified (ext4 /dev/mapper/vg00-varcrashvol), and thus mounted at /var/crash. The path option is also set to /var/crash, so the kdump saves the vmcore file in the /var/crash/var/crash directory.

  • To change the local directory in which the crash dump is to be saved, as root, edit the /etc/kdump.conf configuration file:

    1. Remove the hash sign ("#") from the beginning of the #path /var/crash line.
    2. Replace the value with the intended directory path. For example:

      path /usr/local/cores

      In RHEL 9, the directory defined as the kdump target using the path directive must exist when the kdump systemd service is started - otherwise the service fails.

  • To write the file to a different partition, edit the /etc/kdump.conf configuration file:

    1. Remove the hash sign ("#") from the beginning of the #ext4 line, depending on your choice.

      • device name (the #ext4 /dev/vg/lv_kdump line)
      • file system label (the #ext4 LABEL=/boot line)
      • UUID (the #ext4 UUID=03138356-5e61-4ab3-b58e-27507ac41937 line)
    2. Change the file system type as well as the device name, label or UUID to the desired values. For example:

      ext4 UUID=03138356-5e61-4ab3-b58e-27507ac41937

      The correct syntax for specifying UUID values is both UUID="correct-uuid" and UUID=correct-uuid.


      It is recommended to specify storage devices using a LABEL= or UUID=. Disk device names such as /dev/sda3 are not guaranteed to be consistent across reboot.

  • To write the crash dump directly to a device, edit the /etc/kdump.conf configuration file:

    1. Remove the hash sign ("#") from the beginning of the #raw /dev/vg/lv_kdump line.
    2. Replace the value with the intended device name. For example:

      raw /dev/sdb1
  • To store the crash dump to a remote machine using the NFS protocol:

    1. Remove the hash sign ("#") from the beginning of the #nfs line.
    2. Replace the value with a valid hostname and directory path. For example:

  • To store the crash dump to a remote machine using the SSH protocol:

    1. Remove the hash sign ("#") from the beginning of the #ssh line.
    2. Replace the value with a valid username and hostname.
    3. Include your SSH key in the configuration.

      • Remove the hash sign from the beginning of the #sshkey /root/.ssh/kdump_id_rsa line.
      • Change the value to the location of a key valid on the server you are trying to dump to. For example:

        sshkey /root/.ssh/mykey

17.4. Configuring the kdump core collector

The kdump service uses a core_collector program to capture the crash dump image. In RHEL, the makedumpfile utility is the default core collector. It helps shrink the dump file by:

  • Compressing the size of a crash dump file and copying only necessary pages using various dump levels
  • Excluding unnecessary crash dump pages
  • Filtering the page types to be included in the crash dump.


core_collector makedumpfile -l --message-level 1 -d 31


  • -c, -l or -p: specify compress dump file format by each page using either, zlib for -c option, lzo for -l option or snappy for -p option.
  • -d (dump_level): excludes pages so that they are not copied to the dump file.
  • --message-level : specify the message types. You can restrict outputs printed by specifying message_level with this option. For example, specifying 7 as message_level prints common messages and error messages. The maximum value of message_level is 31



  1. As root, edit the /etc/kdump.conf configuration file and remove the hash sign ("#") from the beginning of the #core_collector makedumpfile -l --message-level 1 -d 31.
  2. To enable crash dump file compression, execute:
core_collector makedumpfile -l --message-level 1 -d 31

The -l option specifies the dump compressed file format. The -d option specifies dump level as 31. The --message-level option specifies message level as 1.

Also, consider following examples with the -c and -p options:

  • To compress a crash dump file using -c:
core_collector makedumpfile -c -d 31 --message-level 1
  • To compress a crash dump file using -p:
core_collector makedumpfile -p -d 31 --message-level 1

Additional resources

17.5. Configuring the kdump default failure responses

By default, when kdump fails to create a crash dump file at the configured target location, the system reboots and the dump is lost in the process. To change this behavior, follow the procedure below.



  1. As root, remove the hash sign ("#") from the beginning of the #failure_action line in the /etc/kdump.conf configuration file.
  2. Replace the value with a desired action.

    failure_action poweroff

Additional resources

17.6. Testing the kdump configuration

You can test that the crash dump process works and is valid before the machine enters production.


The commands below cause the kernel to crash. Use caution when following these steps, and never carelessly use them on active production system.


  1. Reboot the system with kdump enabled.
  2. Make sure that kdump is running:

    # systemctl is-active kdump
  3. Force the Linux kernel to crash:

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

    The command above crashes the kernel, and a reboot is required.

    Once booted again, the address-YYYY-MM-DD-HH:MM:SS/vmcore file is created at the location you have specified in the /etc/kdump.conf file (by default to /var/crash/).


    This action confirms the validity of the configuration. Also it is possible to use this action to record how long it takes for a crash dump to complete with a representative work-load.

Additional resources