There are many reasons why a program might crash. Some Slurm job states such as TIMEOUT or OUT_OF_MEMORY can indicate a clear reason, but when the job state is simply FAILED and the error message in the job's log file simply states "Segmentation Fault" or "Illegal instruction", investigations become more complicated. In the following, a selection of tools is presented which might assist. Most of the following approaches require the application being built with debugging symbols (e.g. `-g` compile option), otherwise only nameless memory address will be provided.

Tracing job scripts

Complex job scripts may contain several commands. To located the failing executable and keep track of performed settings and operations the option `set -x` (in bash) may help. It lists line by line called commands together with the related output.

Analysing core files with GDB

In some cases a memory dump at the time of crash is provided. These core files are usually provided one for each process. The GNU debugger (gdb) can extract information from them. For example, a stack trace could be obtained by running the following command for ONE core file:

gdb -c core.12345 /path/to/bin/exe
> bt

This assumes that the crashing job used the executable `/path/to/bin/exe`, which should be built with debugging symbols. This may already point you to the failing location. With the command `bt` you can request a stack trace.

For more detailed information see the GDB Manual.


The parallel debugger DDT is a commercial product from ARM (formerly Allinea) and can handle various kinds of applications, serial, parallel, compiled from different kind of sources (C, C++, Fortran, Python). To work properly DDT needs to have debug symbols provided by the application binary (compiled with e.g. `-g`  option). DDT can be used using the module `forge`. There are basically 2 ways to use the debugger, interactive using the GUI and on the command line (bash script) using the so called "offline" mode. 

DDT offline mode

You can start and configure DDT directly on the command line in your job scripts without a GUI. Which is useful especially if you have long lasting jobs to debug or long queuing times. To use this so called "offline mode" you just need to add `ddt --offline` in front of the srun statement. You can add more arguments for example to print the values of variables. 

ddt --offline --break-at=fail.c:14 --evaluate="k;n" srun -n 4 <application> <arguments>

As a result some basic information, stack traces and more requested information are provided into the application stdout and a HTML file is created. Thus this could also be a handy alternative for print statements without touching the code.


See full example page here.

For more detailed information see DDT manual.

DDT graphical user interface

The DDT GUI can be opened using:

module load forge

Note: you can also install forge locally and connect to the machine remotely.

In the start window you can select between attaching DDT to a running application (ATTACH), open an existing core file (OPEN CORE) and launching an application with DDT (RUN).

In the RUN menu the different settings for the executable need to be specified.


Beside Application location and name, we need to specify arguments, working directory, MPI and OpenMP settings. If we have no interactive slurm session, we do need to specify the workload manager settings in the "Submit to queue" section. For your first time, you net to open the Configure menu and select in the "Job submission" tab the "nesi_slurm.ptf" template file. You can add necessary slurm parameters there, e.g. hyperthreading options, accounts and qos. In the Environment Variables section you can load necessary modules.

After submitting the task, DDT launches the application (wait for the workload manager if necessary) and opens the following window. 


In the top part the processes and threads can be selected. The application is paused at the initialization phase, giving the user the opportunity to set break/watch points, and define the type execution (in/over/out of functions or just until next break point). For more detailed information see the DDT manual


ATP (Cray Abnormal Termination Processing)

Note: this tool is only available on Māui.

Abnormal Termination Processing (ATP) is a system that monitors Cray XC System (Maui) user applications, and should an application take a system trap, ATP preforms analysis on the dying application. All of the stack backtraces of the application processes are gathered into a merged
stack backtrace tree and written to disk as the file "". The stack backtrace for the first process to die is sent to stderr as is the number of the signal that caused the death. If the core file size limit (RLIMIT_CORE) is non-zero, a heuristically selected set of processes dump their core.

An example output looks like:

Application 427046 is crashing. ATP analysis proceeding...

ATP Stack walkback for Rank 0 starting:
ATP Stack walkback for Rank 0 done
Process died with signal 8: 'Floating point exception'
Forcing core dumps of ranks 0, 1
View application merged backtrace tree with: stat-view
You may need to: module load stat


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