Procmon alternative for Linux

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What is Monks

Monks is a kernel module that hijacks sys calls, tracks which processes called which sys calls, with what arguments, what was the return value, etc, and sends that information to a nice ncurses interface.

Said in another way, Monks is like strace, but tracing all and every single process from any user, at any level.

That's how it works:

How it works

Why that name?

At first I thought naming the project Procmon, but because that name is already a registered trademark and I don't want any troubles, I decided to call it Monks, which stands for MONitoring Kernel Syscalls.

Setting Monks

Keep in mind that this is a WIP and you can end up with a totally frozen kernel! Do NOT run this in production machines. I'm NOT responsible for any data loss or damage in any way. That said, I test on a daily basis this module on quite some virtual machines, 7, to be precise. Both x86 and x64, different distros, different compilers, different kernels from 2.6.37 up to 3.12.

In order to build this module you'll need some basic stuff (make, gcc), the headers of the kernel you're running on and ncurses library. Once you have all those you just need to run make inside the root folder of the project.

Loading the module isn't any different from loading any other module. insmod monks.ko for loading it and rmmod monks.ko for unloading it.

To start the actual hijack process, once loaded the module, run sysctl monks.state=1, then you'll probably want to run ./monks-viewer to see an actual output.

To stop it just run hit q. To stop the module run sysctl monks.state=0.

If your distro has libkmod, you can use monks's viewer command line switches instead to do all those actions (load/unload, start/stop).

The UI is based on ncurses. Anyways, right now there is almost no functional code, just a basic viewer.


Why Monks

I'm completely aware of kprobes, perf and all other kernel debug systems/methods. Probably all of them work better than Monks, but they have one disadvantage: they require you to recompile the kernel or they are not enabled by default in some distros.

Also, Monks will just work (UI included). What this module does to just work is hijack/replace all (relevant/interesting) syscalls from the syscall table. While this is risky, it will allow you to have a similar tool to Procmon for Windows, without having to recompile the kernel.

Yet another reason: I have fun doing it! I don't seek for this project to be merged into mainline nor being used by every Linux user out there. I'm doing it for myself. Anyways, I'd be glad if it works for you too :)


Just send me patches, if they are ok I'll give you push access :)

About the editing, note that I'm using TABs, so please keep it that way.


The license is WTFPL (Do What The Fuck You Want To Public License), but keep in mind it's good for both sides if you use this project, fix/add things and push them back.