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Netdata daemon

The Netdata daemon is practically a synonym for the Netdata Agent, as it controls its entire operation. We support various methods to start, stop, or restart the daemon.

This document provides some basic information on the command line options, log files, and how to debug and troubleshoot

Command line options

Normally you don't need to supply any command line arguments to netdata.

If you do though, they override the configuration equivalent options.

To get a list of all command line parameters supported, run:

netdata -h

The program will print the supported command line parameters.

The command line options of the Netdata 1.10.0 version are the following:

|.-. .-. .-. .-. . netdata
| '-' '-' '-' '-' real-time performance monitoring, done right!

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SYNOPSIS: netdata [options]


-c filename Configuration file to load.
Default: /etc/netdata/netdata.conf

-D Do not fork. Run in the foreground.
Default: run in the background

-h Display this help message.

-P filename File to save a pid while running.
Default: do not save pid to a file

-i IP The IP address to listen to.
Default: all IP addresses IPv4 and IPv6

-p port API/Web port to use.
Default: 19999

-s path Prefix for /proc and /sys (for containers).
Default: no prefix

-t seconds The internal clock of netdata.
Default: 1

-u username Run as user.
Default: netdata

-v Print netdata version and exit.

-V Print netdata version and exit.

-W options See Advanced options below.

Advanced options:

-W stacksize=N Set the stacksize (in bytes).

-W debug_flags=N Set runtime tracing to debug.log.

-W unittest Run internal unittests and exit.

-W createdataset=N Create a DB engine dataset of N seconds and exit.

-W set section option value
set netdata.conf option from the command line.

-W buildinfo Print the version, the configure options,
a list of optional features, and whether they
are enabled or not.

-W buildinfojson Print the version, the configure options,
a list of optional features, and whether they
are enabled or not, in JSON format.

-W simple-pattern pattern string
Check if string matches pattern and exit.

-W "claim -token=TOKEN -rooms=ROOM1,ROOM2 url="
Connect the agent to the workspace Rooms pointed to by TOKEN and ROOM*.

Signals netdata handles:

- HUP Close and reopen log files.
- USR2 Reload health configuration.

You can send commands during runtime via netdatacli.

Log files

Netdata uses 4 log files:

  1. error.log
  2. collector.log
  3. access.log
  4. debug.log

Any of them can be disabled by setting it to /dev/null or none in netdata.conf. By default error.log, collector.log, and access.log are enabled. debug.log is only enabled if debugging/tracing is also enabled (Netdata needs to be compiled with debugging enabled).

Log files are stored in /var/log/netdata/ by default.


The error.log is the stderr of the netdata daemon .

For most Netdata programs (including standard external plugins shipped by netdata), the following lines may appear:

INFOSomething important the user should know.
ERRORSomething that might disable a part of netdata.
The log line includes errno (if it is not zero).
FATALSomething prevented a program from running.
The log line includes errno (if it is not zero) and the program exited.

The FATAL and ERROR messages will always appear in the logs, and INFOcan be filtered using severity level option.

So, when auto-detection of data collection fail, ERROR lines are logged and the relevant modules are disabled, but the program continues to run.

When a Netdata program cannot run at all, a FATAL line is logged.


The collector.log is the stderr of all collectors run by netdata.

So if any process, in the Netdata process tree, writes anything to its standard error, it will appear in collector.log.

Data stored inside this file follows pattern already described for error.log.


The access.log logs web requests. The format is:



  • ID is the client ID. Client IDs are auto-incremented every time a client connects to netdata.
  • SENT_BYTES is the number of bytes sent to the client, without the HTTP response header.
  • ALL_BYTES is the number of bytes of the response, before compression.
  • PERCENT_COMPRESSION is the percentage of traffic saved due to compression.
  • PREP_TIME is the time in milliseconds needed to prepared the response.
  • SENT_TIME is the time in milliseconds needed to sent the response to the client.
  • TOTAL_TIME is the total time the request was inside Netdata (from the first byte of the request to the last byte of the response).
  • ACTION can be filecopy, options (used in CORS), data (API call).


See debugging.

Netdata process scheduling policy

By default Netdata versions prior to 1.34.0 run with the idle process scheduling policy, so that it uses CPU resources, only when there is idle CPU to spare. On very busy servers (or weak servers), this can lead to gaps on the charts.

Starting with version 1.34.0, Netdata instead uses the batch scheduling policy by default. This largely eliminates issues with gaps in charts on busy systems while still keeping the impact on the rest of the system low.

You can set Netdata scheduling policy in netdata.conf, like this:

process scheduling policy = idle

You can use the following:

idleuse CPU only when there is spare - this is lower than nice 19 - it is the default for Netdata and it is so low that Netdata will run in "slow motion" under extreme system load, resulting in short (1-2 seconds) gaps at the charts.
this is the default policy for all processes under Linux. It provides dynamic priorities based on the nice level of each process. Check below for setting this nice level for netdata.
batchThis policy is similar to other in that it schedules the thread according to its dynamic priority (based on the nice value). The difference is that this policy will cause the scheduler to always assume that the thread is CPU-intensive. Consequently, the scheduler will apply a small scheduling penalty with respect to wake-up behavior, so that this thread is mildly disfavored in scheduling decisions.
fifofifo can be used only with static priorities higher than 0, which means that when a fifo threads becomes runnable, it will always immediately preempt any currently running other, batch, or idle thread. fifo is a simple scheduling algorithm without time slicing.
rra simple enhancement of fifo. Everything described above for fifo also applies to rr, except that each thread is allowed to run only for a maximum time quantum.
do not set scheduling policy, priority or nice level - i.e. keep running with whatever it is set already (e.g. by systemd).

For more information see man sched.

Scheduling priority for rr and fifo

Once the policy is set to one of rr or fifo, the following will appear:

process scheduling priority = 0

These priorities are usually from 0 to 99. Higher numbers make the process more important.

nice level for policies other or batch

When the policy is set to other, nice, or batch, the following will appear:

process nice level = 19

Scheduling settings and systemd

Netdata will not be able to set its scheduling policy and priority to more important values when it is started as the netdata user (systemd case).

You can set these settings at /etc/systemd/system/netdata.service:

# By default Netdata switches to scheduling policy idle, which makes it use CPU, only
# when there is spare available.
# Valid policies: other (the system default) | batch | idle | fifo | rr

# This sets the maximum scheduling priority Netdata can set (for policies: rr and fifo).
# Netdata (via [global].process scheduling priority in netdata.conf) can only lower this value.
# Priority gets values 1 (lowest) to 99 (highest).

# For scheduling policy 'other' and 'batch', this sets the lowest niceness of netdata.
# Netdata (via [global].process nice level in netdata.conf) can only increase the value set here.

Run systemctl daemon-reload to reload these changes.

Now, tell Netdata to keep these settings, as set by systemd, by editing netdata.conf and setting:

process scheduling policy = keep

Using the above, whatever scheduling settings you have set at netdata.service will be maintained by netdata.

Example 1: Netdata with nice -1 on non-systemd systems

On a system that is not based on systemd, to make Netdata run with nice level -1 (a little bit higher to the default for all programs), edit netdata.conf and set:

process scheduling policy = other
process nice level = -1

then execute this to restart Netdata:

sudo systemctl restart netdata

Example 2: Netdata with nice -1 on systemd systems

On a system that is based on systemd, to make Netdata run with nice level -1 (a little bit higher to the default for all programs), edit netdata.conf and set:

process scheduling policy = keep

edit /etc/systemd/system/netdata.service and set:


then execute:

sudo systemctl daemon-reload
sudo systemctl restart netdata

Virtual memory

You may notice that netdata's virtual memory size, as reported by ps or /proc/pid/status (or even netdata's applications virtual memory chart) is unrealistically high.

For example, it may be reported to be 150+MB, even if the resident memory size is just 25MB. Similar values may be reported for Netdata plugins too.

Check this for example: A Netdata installation with default settings on Ubuntu 16.04LTS. The top chart is real memory used, while the bottom one is virtual memory:


Why does this happen?

The system memory allocator allocates virtual memory arenas, per thread running. On Linux systems this defaults to 16MB per thread on 64 bit machines. So, if you get the difference between real and virtual memory and divide it by 16MB you will roughly get the number of threads running.

The system does this for speed. Having a separate memory arena for each thread, allows the threads to run in parallel in multi-core systems, without any locks between them.

This behaviour is system specific. For example, the chart above when running Netdata on Alpine Linux (that uses musl instead of glibc) is this:


Can we do anything to lower it?

Since Netdata already uses minimal memory allocations while it runs (i.e. it adapts its memory on start, so that while repeatedly collects data it does not do memory allocations), it already instructs the system memory allocator to minimize the memory arenas for each thread. We have also added 2 configuration options to allow you tweak these settings: glibc malloc arena max for plugins and glibc malloc arena max for netdata.

However, even if we instructed the memory allocator to use just one arena, it seems it allocates an arena per thread.

Netdata also supports jemalloc and tcmalloc, however both behave exactly the same to the glibc memory allocator in this aspect.

Is this a problem?

No, it is not.

Linux reserves real memory (physical RAM) in pages (on x86 machines pages are 4KB each). So even if the system memory allocator is allocating huge amounts of virtual memory, only the 4KB pages that are actually used are reserving physical RAM. The real memory chart on Netdata application section, shows the amount of physical memory these pages occupy(it accounts the whole pages, even if parts of them are actually used).


When you compile Netdata with debugging:

  1. compiler optimizations for your CPU are disabled (Netdata will run somewhat slower)

  2. a lot of code is added all over netdata, to log debug messages to /var/log/netdata/debug.log. However, nothing is printed by default. Netdata allows you to select which sections of Netdata you want to trace. Tracing is activated via the config option debug flags. It accepts a hex number, to enable or disable specific sections. You can find the options supported at log.h. They are the D_* defines. The value 0xffffffffffffffff will enable all possible debug flags.

Once Netdata is compiled with debugging and tracing is enabled for a few sections, the file /var/log/netdata/debug.log will contain the messages.

Do not forget to disable tracing (debug flags = 0) when you are done tracing. The file debug.log can grow too fast.

Compiling Netdata with debugging

To compile Netdata with debugging, use this:

# step into the Netdata source directory
cd /usr/src/netdata.git

# run the installer with debugging enabled

The above will compile and install Netdata with debugging info embedded. You can now use debug flags to set the section(s) you need to trace.

Debugging crashes

We have made the most to make Netdata crash free. If however, Netdata crashes on your system, it would be very helpful to provide stack traces of the crash. Without them, is will be almost impossible to find the issue (the code base is quite large to find such an issue by just observing it).

To provide stack traces, you need to have Netdata compiled with debugging. There is no need to enable any tracing (debug flags).

Then you need to be in one of the following 2 cases:

  1. Netdata crashes and you have a core dump

  2. you can reproduce the crash

If you are not on these cases, you need to find a way to be (i.e. if your system does not produce core dumps, check your distro documentation to enable them).

Netdata crashes and you have a core dump

you need to have Netdata compiled with debugging info for this to work (check above)

Run the following command and post the output on a github issue.

gdb $(which netdata) /path/to/core/dump

You can reproduce a Netdata crash on your system

you need to have Netdata compiled with debugging info for this to work (check above)

Install the package valgrind and run:

valgrind $(which netdata) -D

Netdata will start and it will be a lot slower. Now reproduce the crash and valgrind will dump on your console the stack trace. Open a new github issue and post the output.

Do you have any feedback for this page? If so, you can open a new issue on our netdata/learn repository.