How to become a "cooperative troubleshooting tool"?

Fabian Lange fabian.lange at
Thu Mar 30 19:49:19 UTC 2017

Hello all,
I was quite surprised when I learned that on short notice a change
landed to jdk9 that by default disallows agent runtime attach.
The JDK-8177154 mentiones that the implementation is desigend to keep
random agents out while still allowing "cooperative troubleshooting
tools". Otherwise -XX:+DisableAttachMechanism would have been

As the vendor of troubleshooting and monitoring tools, we would like
to know how we can be considered cooperative, to be still allowed to
use the attach API.
As of now, we use the attach API to monitor a vast number of JVMs in the wild.

The description in the issue hints at that "self-elevation" of code
via attach was the primary target, but that because such code could
fork a new JVM to remote attach, this effectively cannot be prevented.
I wonder why the self-elevation cannot be prevented using the
SecurityManager? It would prevent VirtualMachine.loadAgent and
variants of Runtime.exec.

With disabling the attach API loadAgent() users no longer can use any
monitoring or troubleshooting tool that uses javaagents that use
instrumentation (that is not only us)
Could vendors become certified to still be allowed to invoke the API?
Is that the idea behind cooperative troubleshooting tools?

I want to question the statement:
5. The change should only impact a small number of tools

Has an evaluation been performed on what tools use the API and how
many of them are affected?

The notes also state that not resolving the jdk.attach module will not
work because several tools use that API. I find this confusing. Aren't
those tools also affected by turning off the loadAgent API?

I would appreciate some information on this and how we can still
function by default in the future.

Best regards
Fabian Lange

Fabian Lange | VP of Engineering
Mobile: +49 (0) 160.3673393

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