Linux Device Drivers

Linux Device Drivers

Character drivers
IO & Memory
Linux Kernel
Process Management
Process Address space

Linux Scheduler
Memory Management
System Calls
Kernel Synchronization
Linux Inter Process Communications

Serial Ports
Parallel Ports
Introduction to Hardware
Linux Timers
DMA in Linux
Linux Threads
Linux Thread Synchronization

Linux Multi Threading
Debugging in Linux
GDB GNU Debugger
KDB Kernel Debugger
KGDB Kernel GNU Debugger
Example Ethernet Driver

GNU Debugger


GNU Debugger


gdb is capable of either debugging programs as they run, or examining the cause for a program crash with a core dump.


1.     A sample gdb session

2.     Getting In and Out of gdb

3.     Stopping the program

4.     Running the program

5.     Examining Data

6.     Machine Level debugging

7.     Changing the program


GDB can do following four main kinds of things:


ü     Start your program specifying anything that might affect its behavior

ü     Make your program stop on specified conditions

ü     Examine what has happened when your program has stopped

ü     Change things in your program, so you can experiment with the correcting bugs


Invoking GDB


The most usual way of starting GDB is

$ gdb

$ gdb program

$ gdb program core

$ gdb program pid


Other command line options-


silent              :-Suppress initial screen.

-help (-h)               :-Displays available options.

-symbols(-s)        :-Read symbol table from ‘file’.

-exec(-e)                :-Use ‘file’ as executable.

-se file            :-Read symbol table from ‘file’ and use it as executable.

-core(-c) file           :-Use ‘file’ as a core dump to examine.

-c number                :-Connect to process id number.

-command (-x) file :-Execute GDB command from ‘file’.

-batch              :-Run in batch mode.

-cd directory       :-Run GDB using directory as its working directory.


Shell Commands


shell                                   :-command -string.

make                                     :-make args.


Running program under GDB


ü     Compile your program with -g option

ü     GDB supports debugging with optimization enabled (-O) or disabled.

ü     Optimization disabled is less confusing.

ü     Use ‘run’ command from inside GDB to start your code running.


Setting your Programs Arguments


set args argument list               :-Sets the arguments.

show args                                          :-Shows the arguments list.



Program’s Input/Output


You can redirect your programs input/output using shell redirection with the ‘run’ command .run > outfile


Debugging an already running process


attach pid           (Use file command to specify the program running in the process and load its symbol table, before using attach).

detach                :-Detaches the process.


Break points, Watch points & Exceptions:


ü     A break point makes your program stop whenever a certain point in the program is reached.

ü     A watch point is a special BP that stops your program when the value of an expression changes.



Setting Break points


break                        function

break                        +offset

break                        -offset

break                        -linenum

break                        filename:linenum

break                        filename:function

break                        *address

break                        ----if cond

tbreak                      args


ü     info breakpoints : displays all break points.



Setting Watch points :


You can use a watchpoint to stop execution whenever the value of an expression changes, without having to predict a particular place where this may happen.


watch expr

rwatch expr

awatch expr


ü     info watchpoints : displays all watch points.


Setting catchpoints


You can use catch points to cause the debugger to stop for certain kinds of program events, such as C++ exceptions or the loading of a shared library. Use the catch command to set a catch point.


catch event

Stop when event occurs. event can be any of the following:

throw:                                   The throwing of a C++ exception.

catch:                                   The catching of a C++ exception.



Deleting Break points:


clear                 Deleting any break points at the next instruction to be executed.

clear                 function

clear                 filename:function

clear                 linenum

clear                 filename linenum

delete                      [bnums…]


Disabling/ Enabling Breakpoints :


disable                   [breakpoints] [bnums..]

enable                [breakpoints] [bnums..]

enable                [breakpoints] once bnums..

enable                [breakpoints] delete bnums..



Continuing/Stepping :


continue /c /fg           :-Ignore count -Resume program execution ignoring break points.

Step                                      :-Continue running until control reaches a different source line.

step count                 :-Continue executing ‘count’ source lines.

next [count]                   :-Next is similar to step but function calls are executed without stopping.

finish                     :-Continue running until just after function returns.

step i/si                         :-Execute one machine instruction.

next i[count]                 :-Execute one/count machine instructions, but if it is a function call, proceed until the function call, proceed until the function returns.


Examining the Stack


When your program has stopped, the first thing you need to know is where it stopped and how it got there.

Each time your program performs a function call, information about the call is generated.

That information includes the location of the call in your program, the arguments of the

call, and the local variables of the function being called. The information is saved in a

block of data called a stack frame. The stack frames are allocated in a region of memory

called the call stack.



Stack frames


The call stack is divided up into contiguous pieces called stack  frames, or frames for

short; each frame is the data associated with one call to one function. The frame contains

the arguments given to the function, the function’s local variables, and the address at

which the function is executing.





A backtrace is a summary of how your program got where it is. It shows one line per frame, for many frames, starting with the currently executing frame (frame 0), followed by its caller(frame 1), and on up the stack.


backtrace /bt :-Print backtrace of entire stack (C-c to stop)

bt n           :-Print only the innermost n frames.

bt -n          :-print only the outermost n frames.



Selecting a frame


Most commands for examining the stack and other data in your program work on whichever stack frame is selected at the moment.

Here are the commands for selecting a stack frame; all of them finish by printing a brief description of the stack frame just selected.


frame n

f           n          Select frame number n.


frame addr

f           addr     Select the frame at address addr.


up n

down n



Information about a frame


There are several other commands to print information about the selected stack frame.


info frame

info f


This command prints a verbose description of the selected stack frame, including:

ü     the address of the frame

ü     the address of the next frame down (called by this frame)

ü     the address of the next frame up (caller of this frame)

ü     the language in which the source code is written.

ü     the address of the frame’s arguments

ü     the address of the frame’s local variables

ü     the program counter saved in it (the address in the caller frame)

ü     which registers were saved in the frame





Examining Source Files:


ü     When your program stops, GDB spontaneously prints the line where it stopped. When you select a stack frame, GDB prints the line where execution in that frame has stopped.

ü     You can print other portions of source files by explicit command.


list linenum    :-Print lines centered around ‘linenum’.

list function    :-Print lines centered around the beginning of  ‘function’.

List                  :-Print more lines.

List                  :-Print lines just before the lines last printed.

set listsize count

show listsize



Examining data:


print exp                                     :-Print the value of exp.

print /f exp                  :-Print the value of exp with format ‘f’.

print                      :-Display the last value again.


Normally GDB can display variables visible in the current scope. However we can get the value of other variables by specifying explicitly.


p                      file :: variable name


print format supports are:


x                      :-Regard the bits of the values as an integer, and print the integer in hex.

d                      :-Print as integer in signed decimal.

u                      :-Print as integer in unsigned decimal.

o                      :-Print as integer in octal.

t                       :-Print as integer in binary.

a                      :-Print as an address.

c                      :-Regard as an integer and print as a char constant.

f                       :-Regard as floating point number and print floating point syntax.


Examining Memory:


You can use command ‘x’ to examine memory.

x/nfu addr

n is the repeat count in units ‘u’.

f is the format.

u is the unit size.

b-Bytes, h-Halfwords (2 Bytes), w-Words (4 Bytes),

g-Gaint words(8 bytes)

addr-starting display address.




Info registers

Info registers regname

P/x $pc

X/i $pc



Examining the Symbol Table


To inquire about the symbols (names of variables, functions and types) defined in your program.


info address symbol

info symbol addr

whatis expr

info source

info functions

info variables



Altering Execution


You can store new values into variables or memory locations, give your program a signal, restart it at a different address, or even return prematurely from a function.


Assignment to variables


To alter the value of a variable, evaluate an assignment expression.

For example,

print x = 4

stores the value 4 into the variable x


Use the set command, instead of the print command.


(gdb) whatis count

(gdb) set count = 47



Continuing at a different address


Ordinarily, when you continue your program, you do so at the place where it stopped, with the continue command. You can instead continue at an address of your own.


jump linespec

jump *address

set $pc = 0x485

Returning from a function



return expression

You can cancel execution of a function call with the return command.

If you give an expression argument, its value is used as the function’s return value.





A signal is an asynchronous event. gdb has ability to detect any  occurrence of signal in the program.

You can specify gdb what to do with each signal.


info signals

info handle

handle signal keyword


signal SIGALRM..

keyword nostop, stop

print, noprint

pass noignore

no pass, ignore



Giving your program a signal


signal signal


Resume execution where your program stopped, but immediately give it the signal signal. signal can be the name or the number of signal.

For example, on many systems signal 2 and signal SIGINT are both ways of sending an interrupt signal.



Debugging programs with multiple processes


By default, when a program forks, gdb will continue to debug the parent process and the child process will run unimpeded


show follow-fork-mode

set follow-fork-mode {parent | child }




Debugging programs with multiple threads


Thread threadno

Info threads

Thread apply [threadno] [all] args

Thread specific break points



Stopping and starting multi-threaded program


When your program has multiple threads, you can choose to set  breakpoints on all threads or on a particular thread.


break linespec thread threadno

break linespec thread threadno if ...

(gdb) break frik.c:13 thread 28 if bartab > lim



Generating core files


A core file contains the contents of a program's memory space at the time the program ended.


To produce a core file, you must enable core file generation.


To enable core file generation, run the following command and then start the server from the same command line:

ulimit -c unlimited

ulimit -H -c unlimited


The ulimit for core files might be set to zero. Be sure to run these commands so that the core file size is not limited.



Core dump analysis


The GNU debugger is called gdb and is a command line mode source -level debugger. It allows you to see what is going on inside a program as it executes (normal debugging) or after it crashed (core dump analysis). (There is also a graphical version of gdb called xxgdb which runs under the X11 environment.)


In order to use gdb, you need to compile your program with the –g compiler flag. To start a normal gdb debugging session, you simply do


gdb program


gdb program core


If you are doing core dump (post-crash) analysis.


You can see the stack by using where command.