Debug - Getting Traces

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zh-CN:Debug - Getting Traces This article aims to help in creating a debugging Arch package and using it to provide trace and debug information for reporting software bugs to developers.

Discovering name of package(s)

A few facts of debug messages

When looking at debug message, such as:

Backtrace was generated from '/usr/bin/epiphany'

(no debugging symbols found)
Using host libthread_db library "/lib/".
(no debugging symbols found)
[Thread debugging using libthread_db enabled]
[New Thread -1241265952 (LWP 12630)]
(no debugging symbols found)
0xb7f25410 in __kernel_vsyscall ()
#0  0xb7f25410 in __kernel_vsyscall ()
#1  0xb741b45b in ?? () from /lib/

you can see ?? at the place where debugging info is missing and also the name of library or executable which called the function. Similarly, when the line (no debugging symbols found) appears in a message, it means that you have to look for a file whose name is stated.

Finding package

Use Pacman to retrieve name of package:

# pacman -Qo /lib/
/lib/ is owned by glibc 2.5-8

We have found that package is called glibc in version 2.5-8. By repeating this step, we are able to create a list of packages which we have to compile ourselves to get full stack trace.

Obtaining PKGBUILD

In order to build a package from source, the PKGBUILD file is required. The location from which you can obtain PKGBUILDs is, in general:

  1. AUR or
  2. ABS

Using AUR

Use AUR search page to find the package. If it is not present, the package is stored in one of the official repository trees of Arch Linux. If found, click on its name and download the Tarball. Use tar to extract it and change the directory:

$ tar xvzf name_of_tarball.tar.gz
$ cd name_of_tarball

Using ABS

If the package is a part of official tree, install ABS, fetch the source for the package and then build it:

$ ABSROOT=. abs core/glibc
$ cd core/glibc
$ makepkg -s

Compilation settings

At this stage, you can modify the global configuration file of makepkg if you will be using it only for debug purposes. In other cases, you should modify package's PKGBUILD file only for each package you would like to rebuild.

Global settings

As of pacman 4.1, /etc/makepkg.conf already has debug compilation flags in DEBUG_CFLAGS and DEBUG_CXXFLAGS. To use them, enable the debug makepkg option, and disable strip.

Modify makepkg's configuration file ~/.makepkg.conf to contain:

OPTIONS+=(debug !strip)

These settings will force compilation with debugging information and will disable the stripping of executables. (If you do not disable strip, debugging information will be generated anyway, but moved to a separate foo-debug package.)

One package settings only

Modify foo's PKGBUILD file to contain the following lines:

options=(debug !strip)


In addition to the previous general settings you should pass -developer-build option to the configure script in the PKGBUILD. Also compiling Qt with qtwebkit installed may cause compilation errors. That is why you would also want to remove qtwebkit package temporarily from your system. Use the following command in order to ignore any dependencies on qtwebkit.

# pacman -Rdd qtwebkit

Do not forget to install qtwebkit after the compilation of Qt is finished, otherwise the programs that depend on it will not work!

KDE applications

KDE and software built with KDE technologies normally use CMake for build. To build this software with debug symbols change the option -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE to Debug.

Building and installing the package

Build the package from source using makepkg while in the PKGBUILD's directory. This could take some time:

# makepkg

Then install the built package:

# pacman -U glibc-2.5-8-i686.pkg.tar.gz

Getting the trace

The actual backtrace (or stack trace) can now be obtained via e.g. gdb, the GNU Debugger. Run it either via:

# gdb /path/to/file


# gdb
(gdb) exec /path/to/file

The path is optional, if already set in the $PATH variable.

Then, within gdb, type run followed by any arguments you wish the program to start with, e.g.:

(gdb) run --no-daemon --verbose

to start execution of the file. Do whatever necessary to evoke the bug. For the actual log, type the lines:

(gdb) set logging file trace.log
(gdb) set logging on

and then:

(gdb) bt

to output the trace to trace.log into the directory gdb was started in. To exit, enter:

(gdb) set logging off
(gdb) quit
Tip: To debug an application written in python:
# gdb /usr/bin/python
(gdb) run <python application>

You can also debug an already running application, e.g.:

 # gdb --pid=$(pidof firefox)
 (gdb) continue


Use the complete stack trace to inform developers of a bug you have discovered before. This will be highly appreciated by them and will help to improve your favorite program.

See also