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

15.2.1. gdbserver

15.2.1. gdbserver

Using gdbserver allows you to run GDB from a development workstation rather than on the target embedded Linux platform. This configuration has obvious benefits. For starters, it is common that your development workstation has far more CPU power, memory, and hard-drive storage than the embedded platform. In addition, it is common for the source code for your application under debug to exist on the development workstation and not on the embedded platform.

gdbserver is a small program that runs on the target board and allows remote debugging of a process on the board. It is invoked on the target board specifying the program to be debugged, as well as an IP address and port number on which it will listen for connection requests from GDB. Listing 15-3 shows the startup sequence on the target board.

Listing 15-3. Starting gdbserver on Target Board

$ gdbserver localhost:2001 websdemo-stripped
Process websdemo-stripped created; pid = 197
Listening on port 2001

This particular example starts gdbserver configured to listen for an Ethernet TCP/IP connection on port 2001, ready to debug our stripped binary program called websdemo-stripped.

From our development workstation, we launch GDB, passing it the name of the binary executable containing symbolic debug information that we want to debug as an argument. After GDB starts up, we issue a command to connect to the remote target board. Listing 15-4 shows this sequence.

Listing 15-4. Starting Remote GDB Session

$ xscale_be-gdb -q websdemo
(gdb) target remote
Remote debugging using
0x40000790 in ?? ()
(gdb) p main       <<<< display address of main function
$1 = {int (int, char **)} 0x12b68 <main>
(gdb) b main       <<<< Place breakpoint at main()
Breakpoint 1 at 0x12b80: file main.c, line 72.

The sequence in Listing 15-4 invokes cross-gdb on your development host. When GDB is running, we issue the gdb target remote command. This command causes GDB to initiate a TCP/IP connection from your development workstation to your target board, with the indicated IP address on port 2001. When gdbserver accepts the connection request, it prints a line similar to this:

Remote debugging from host

Now GDB is connected to the target board's gdbserver process, ready to accept commands from GDB. The rest of the session is exactly the same as if you were debugging an application locally. This is a powerful tool, allowing you to use the power of your development workstation for the debug session, leaving only a small, relatively unobtrusive GDB stub and your program being debugged on the target board. In case you were wondering, gdbserver for this particular ARM target is only 54KB.

root@coyote:~# ls -l /usr/bin/gdbserver
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 54344 Jul 23 2005 /usr/bin/gdbserver

There is one caveat, and it is the subject of a frequently asked question (FAQ) on many mailing lists. You must be using a GDB on your development host that was configured as a cross-debugger. It is a binary program that runs on your development workstation but understands binary executable images compiled for another architecture. This is an important and frequently overlooked fact. You cannot debug a PowerPC target with a native GDB such as that found in a typical Red Hat Linux installation. You must have a GDB configured for your host and target combination.

When GDB is invoked, it displays a banner consisting of several lines of information and then displays its compiled configuration. Listing 15-5 is an example of the GDB used for some examples in this book, which is part of an embedded Linux distribution provided by MontaVista Software configured for PowerPC cross-development.

Listing 15-5. Invocation of cross-gdb

$ ppc_82xx-gdb
GNU gdb 6.0 (MontaVista 6.0- 2003-12-24)
Copyright 2003 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=powerpc-hardhat-linux".

Notice the last lines of this GDB startup message. This is the configuration compiled into this version of GDB. It was compiled to execute on a Pentium (i686) PC host running GNU/Linux and to debug binary programs compiled for a PowerPC processor running GNU/Linux. This is specified by the --host and --target variables displayed by the banner text, and is also a part of the configuration string passed to ./configure when building GDB.

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