DMTCP (Distributed MultiThreaded CheckPointing) is a transparent user-level checkpointing package for distributed applications. Checkpointing and restart is demonstrated for a wide range of over 20 well known applications, including MATLAB, Python, TightVNC, MPICH2, OpenMPI, and runCMS. RunCMS runs as a 680 MB image in memory that includes 540 dynamic libraries, and is used for the CMS experiment of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. DMTCP transparently checkpoints general cluster computations consisting of many nodes, processes, and threads; as well as typical desktop applications. On 128 distributed cores (32 nodes), checkpoint and restart times are typically 2 seconds, with negligible run-time overhead. Typical checkpoint times are reduced to 0.2 seconds when using forked checkpointing. Experimental results show that checkpoint time remains nearly constant as the number of nodes increases on a medium-size cluster. DMTCP automatically accounts for fork, exec, ssh, mutexes/semaphores, TCP/IP sockets, UNIX domain sockets, pipes, ptys (pseudo-terminals), terminal modes, ownership of controlling terminals, signal handlers, open file descriptors, shared open file descriptors, I/O (including the readline library), shared memory (via mmap), parent-child process relationships, pid virtualization, and other operating system artifacts. By emphasizing an unprivileged, user-space approach, compatibility is maintained across Linux kernels from 2.6.9 through the current 2.6.28. Since DMTCP is unprivileged and does not require special kernel modules or kernel patches, DMTCP can be incorporated and distributed as a checkpoint-restart module within some larger package.


Originally published in Proceedings of the IEEE International Parallel & Distributed Processing Symposium, 2009, pp.1-12, 23-29 May 2009. doi: 10.1109/IPDPS.2009.5161063


Linux, checkpointing, kernels, cluster computing

Subject Categories

Fault tolerance (Engineering)


Computer and Systems Architecture

Publication Date


Rights Information

Copyright 2009


Personal use of this material is permitted. Permission from IEEE must be obtained for all other users, including reprinting/republishing this material for advertising or promotional purposes, creating new collective works for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or reuse of any copyrighted components of this work in other works.

Rights Holder


Click button above to open, or right-click to save.