How to install jcmd on CentOS 7 to diagnose running Java Virtual Machine crashing applications


jcmd utility is well known in the Brane New wonderful world of Java but if you're like me a classical old school sysadmins and non-java developer you probably never heard it hence before going straight into how to install it on CentOS 7 Linux servers, I'll shortly say few words on what it is.
jcmd is used to send diagnostic requests to running Java Virtual Machine (JVM) it is available in both in Oracle Java as well as OpenJDK.
The requests jcmd sends to VM are based on the running Java PID ID and are pretty useful for controlling Java Flight Recordings, troubleshoot, and diagnose JVM and Java Applications. It must be used on the same machine where the JVM is running.

 Used without arguments or with the -l option, jcmd prints the list of running Java processes with their process id, their main class and their command line arguments.
When a main class is specified on the command line, jcmd sends the diagnostic command request to all Java processes for which the command line argument is a substring of the Java process' main class.
jcmd could be useful if the JConsoleJMX (Java Management Extensions) can't be used for some reason on the server or together with Java Visual VM (visual interface for viewing detailed info about Java App).

In most Linux distributionsas as  of year 2020 jcmd is found in  java-*-openjdk-headless.

To have jcmd on lets say Debian GNU / Linux, you're up to something like:

apt-get install –yes openjdk-12-jdk-headless


apt-get install openjdk-11-jdk-headless
however in CentOS
7 jcmd is not found in java*openjdk*headless but instead to have it on server, thus it take me a while to look up where it is foundso after hearing
from some online post it is part of package java*openjdk*devel* to make sure this so true, I've used the  –download-only option

 yum install –downloadonly –downloaddir=/tmp java-1.8.0-openjdk-devel

So the next question was how to inspect the downloaded rpm package into /tmp usually, this is possible via Midnight Commander (mc) easily to view contents, however as this
server did not have installed mc due to security policies I had to do it differently after pondering a while on how to to list the RPM package file content come up using following command

 rpm2cpio java-1.8.0-openjdk-devel- |cpio -idmv|grep -i jcmd|less

To then install  java-1.8.0-openjdk-devel- to do so run:

yum -y install  java-1.8.0-openjdk-devel-1.8.0*

Once the jcmd, I've created the following bash script  that was set that was tracking for application errors and checking whether the JBoss application server pool-available-count is not filled up and hence jboss refuses to serve connections  through query automatically launching jcmd to get various diagnostic data about Java Virtual Machine (e.g. a running snapshot) – think of it like the UNIX top for debugging or Windows System Monitor but run one time. 

# PID_OF_JAVA=$(pgrep -l java)
# jcmd $PID_OF_JAVA GC.heap_dump GC.heap_dump_file-$(date '+%Y-%m-%d_%H-%M-%S').jfr
# jcmd $PID_OF_JAVA Thread.print > Thread.print-$(date '+%Y-%m-%d_%H-%M-%S').jfr

The produced log files can then be used by the developer to visualize some Java specific stuff "Flight recordings" like in below screenshot:


If you're interested on some other interesting tools that can be used to Monitor  and Debug a Running Java VM take a look at Java's official documentation Monitoring Tools.
So that's all Mission Accomplished 🙂 Now the Java Application developer could observe the log and tell why exactly the application crashed after the multitude of thrown Exceptions in the JBoss server.log.

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