Книга: Embedded Linux Primer: A Practical, Real-World Approach

13.1.1. Debugging a Core Dump

13.1.1. Debugging a Core Dump

One of the most common reasons to drag GDB out of the toolbox is to evaluate a core dump. It is quick and easy, and often leads to immediate identification of the offending code. A core dump results when an application program generates a fault, such as accessing a memory location that it does not own. Many conditions can trigger a core dump,[80] but SIGSEGV (segmentation fault) is by far the most common. A SIGSEGV is a Linux kernel signal that is generated on illegal memory accesses by a user process. When this signal is generated, the kernel terminates the process. The kernel then dumps a core image, if so enabled.

To enable generation of a core dump, your process must have the resource limits to enable a core dump. This is achieved by setting the process's resource limits using the setrlimit() function call, or from a BASH or BusyBox shell command prompt, using ulimit. It is not uncommon to find the following line in the initialization scripts of an embedded system to enable the generation of core dumps on process errors:

$ ulimit -c unlimited

This BASH built-in command is used to set the size limit of a core dump. In the previous instance, the size is set to unlimited.

When an application program generates a segmentation fault (for example, by writing to a memory address outside its permissible range), Linux terminates the process and generates a core dump, if so enabled. The core dump is a snapshot of the running process at the time the segmentation fault occurred.

It helps to have debugging symbols enabled in your binary. GDB produces much more useful output with debugging symbols (gcc -g) enabled during the build. However, it is still possible to determine the sequence of events leading to the segmentation fault, even if the binary was compiled without debugging symbols. You might need to do a bit more investigative work without the aid of debugging symbols. You must manually correlate virtual addresses to locations within your program.

Listing 13-1 shows the results of a core dump analysis session using GDB. The output has been reformatted slightly to fit the page. We have used some demonstration software to intentionally produce a segmentation fault. Here is the output of the process (called webs) that generated the segmentation fault:

root@coyote:/workspace/websdemo# ./webs
Segmentation fault (core dumped)

Listing 13-1. Core Dump Analysis Using GDB

$ xscale_be-gdb webs core
GNU gdb 6.3 (MontaVista 6.3- 2005-07-23)
Copyright 2004 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
GDB is free software, covered by the GNU General Public
License, and you are welcome to change it and/or distribute copies of it under certain conditions.
Type "show copying" to see the conditions.
There is absolutely no warranty for GDB. Type "show warranty" for details.
This GDB was configured as "--host=i686-pc-linux-gnu -target=armv5teb-montavista-linuxeabi"...
Core was generated by './webs'.
Program terminated with signal 11, Segmentation fault.
Reading symbols from /opt/montavista/pro/.../libc.so.6...done.
Loaded symbols for /opt/montavista/pro/.../libc.so.6
Reading symbols from /opt/montavista/pro/.../ld-linux.so.3...done.
Loaded symbols for /opt/montavista/pro/.../ld-linux.so.3
#0  0x00012ac4 in ClearBlock (RealBigBlockPtr=0x0, l=100000000) at led.c:43
43                       *ptr = 0;
(gdb) l
39    static int ClearBlock(char * BlockPtr, int l)
40    {
41        char * ptr;
42        for (ptr = BlockPtr; (ptr - BlockPtr) < l; ptr++)
43            *ptr = 0;
44        return 0;
45    }
46    static int InitBlock(char * ptr, int n)
47    {
(gdb) p ptr
$1 = 0x0

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