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How to use OProfile on Unladen Swallow
Updated Feb 23, 2010 by collinw


OProfile is a system-wide sampling-based profiler for Linux systems. You need to be root to use it.

OProfile has supported JIT compilers since the 0.9.4 release, but 0.9.5 fixed a bug in line number handling on 64-bit systems. 0.9.6 is the most recent release, and it seems to work fine. Install it somewhere on your system.

Pass --with-oprofile=/prefix/path to the LLVM or Unladen Swallow configure script. So, if you built OProfile with its default prefix, you'll pass --with-oprofile=/usr/local. If you installed OProfile from your distribution's packaging system, you should be able to use just --with-oprofile, since it defaults to the /usr prefix.

Assuming $PWD is a built Unladen Swallow directory, and you've checked out the tests to ../tests, you'll see:

$ sudo opcontrol --reset; sudo opcontrol --start-daemon; sudo opcontrol --start; \
PYTHONPATH=../tests/lib/django/ ./python ../tests/performance/ \
-n 100; sudo opcontrol --stop

Signalling daemon... done
Profiler running.
Stopping profiling.

$ opreport -g -l ./python |less
CPU: Core 2, speed 1998 MHz (estimated)
Counted CPU_CLK_UNHALTED events (Clock cycles when not halted) with a unit mask of 0x00 (Unhalted core cycles) count 100000
samples  %        linenr info                 image name               symbol name
186745    3.4261  obmalloc.c:1275             python                   write_size_t
135246    2.4813  frameobject.c:411           python                   frame_dealloc
133457    2.4484  frameobject.c:586           python                   PyFrame_New
132905    2.4383                python                   PyEval_EvalCodeEx
123259    2.2613  obmalloc.c:1260             python                   read_size_t
123123    2.2589  tupleobject.c:28            python                   PyTuple_New
118909    2.1815  object.c:2147               python                   _Py_ForgetReference
117928    2.1635                     #u#force_unicode
116538    2.1380  methodobject.c:18           python                   PyCFunction_NewEx
105709    1.9394                python                   _PyEval_CallFunction
103707    1.9026  typeobject.c:1169           python                   PyType_IsSubtype
99938     1.8335  obmalloc.c:1437             python                   _PyObject_DebugCheckAddress
95842     1.7583  stringobject.c:164          python                   PyString_FromFormatV
95285     1.7481  tupleobject.c:162           python                   tupledealloc
91328     1.6755  object.c:59                 python                   _Py_AddToAllObjects
88539     1.6244  (no location information)              memset
87952     1.6136                 #u#render5
82625     1.5159  object.c:1316               python                   PyObject_GenericGetAttr
80607     1.4788  dictobject.c:392            python                   lookdict_string
74722     1.3709  object.c:2172               python                   _Py_Dealloc
71016     1.3029  methodobject.c:181          python                   meth_dealloc
68272     1.2525                    #u#resolve
67952     1.2467  obmalloc.c:725              python                   PyObject_Malloc
67392     1.2364  getargs.c:1495              python                   vgetargskeywords
66798     1.2255  gcmodule.c:1393             python                   PyObject_GC_UnTrack
63645     1.1677  typeobject.c:2495           python                   _PyType_Lookup

Here, #u#force_unicode and #u#render5 are Python functions named force_unicode() and render(), and defined at and

You can also run oprofile with the -d flag to get instruction-level timings. may be useful in visualizing profile results.


Using oProfile on Ubuntu and Debian

The oProfile packages in Debian Sid and Ubuntu Hardy, Jaunty, Karmic, and Lucid are all broken. You can go to to get fixed oProfile 0.9.6 Ubuntu packages for Hardy, Jaunty, Karmic, and Lucid. That page has instructions on how to install packages from that PPA (personal package archive).

More details passed on from Elliot Murphy, an Ubuntu developer:

Debian sid has oProfile (0.9.6-1), but the package does not currently create the oprofile user and group needed for JIT profiler to work. If you are using this version of the package, you will need to manually create an oprofile user, otherwise JIT profiling just silently doesn't work. I will be sending a patch to Debian to so that the package automatically creates the necessary system user when the package is installed.
In Ubuntu, oProfile package was very old, 0.9.4+cvs20090629-2.1ubuntu3 or so, and this package has several major problems: doesn't work on 64 bit, doesn't install the opjitconv command, and doesn't create the oprofile user. I am working to fix this so that Lucid (Ubuntu 10.04) will have a modern version of oProfile with all of these problems fixed. For Unladen Swallow hackers who want to easily use oProfile on Ubuntu now without having to install from source, I have built fixed packages in my personal archive.


  • If oprofile is not working and you are working on a laptop that has been suspended/resumed, try running opcontrol --shutdown and then running oProfile again.
Comment by, Mar 19, 2012

just test

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