Sample Session

Go forward to Invocation
Go backward to Summary
Go up to Top
Go to the top op gdb

A Sample GDB Session

You can use this manual at your leisure to read all about GDB.
However, a handful of commands are enough to get started using the
debugger.  This chapter illustrates those commands.
   One of the preliminary versions of GNU `m4' (a generic macro
processor) exhibits the following bug: sometimes, when we change its
quote strings from the default, the commands used to capture one macro
definition within another stop working.  In the following short `m4'
session, we define a macro `foo' which expands to `0000'; we then use
the `m4' built-in `defn' to define `bar' as the same thing.  However,
when we change the open quote string to `<QUOTE>' and the close quote
string to `<UNQUOTE>', the same procedure fails to define a new synonym
     $ cd gnu/m4
     $ ./m4
     m4: End of input: 0: fatal error: EOF in string
Let us use GDB to try to see what is going on.
     $ gdb m4
     GDB is free software and you are welcome to 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.
     GDB 6.2.1, Copyright 1999 Free Software Foundation, Inc...
GDB reads only enough symbol data to know where to find the rest when
needed; as a result, the first prompt comes up very quickly.  We now
tell GDB to use a narrower display width than usual, so that examples
fit in this manual.
     (gdb) set width 70
We need to see how the `m4' built-in `changequote' works.  Having
looked at the source, we know the relevant subroutine is
`m4_changequote', so we set a breakpoint there with the GDB `break'
     (gdb) break m4_changequote
     Breakpoint 1 at 0x62f4: file builtin.c, line 879.
Using the `run' command, we start `m4' running under GDB control; as
long as control does not reach the `m4_changequote' subroutine, the
program runs as usual:
     (gdb) run
     Starting program: /work/Editorial/gdb/gnu/m4/m4

foo 0000

To trigger the breakpoint, we call `changequote'.  GDB suspends
execution of `m4', displaying information about the context where it
     Breakpoint 1, m4_changequote (argc=3, argv=0x33c70)
         at builtin.c:879
     879         if (bad_argc(TOKEN_DATA_TEXT(argv[0]),argc,1,3))
Now we use the command `n' (`next') to advance execution to the next
line of the current function.
     (gdb) n
     882         set_quotes((argc >= 2) ? TOKEN_DATA_TEXT(argv[1])\
      : nil,
`set_quotes' looks like a promising subroutine.  We can go into it by
using the command `s' (`step') instead of `next'.  `step' goes to the
next line to be executed in _any_ subroutine, so it steps into
     (gdb) s
     set_quotes (lq=0x34c78 "<QUOTE>", rq=0x34c88 "<UNQUOTE>")
         at input.c:530
     530         if (lquote != def_lquote)
The display that shows the subroutine where `m4' is now suspended (and
its arguments) is called a stack frame display.  It shows a summary of
the stack.  We can use the `backtrace' command (which can also be
spelled `bt'), to see where we are in the stack as a whole: the
`backtrace' command displays a stack frame for each active subroutine.
     (gdb) bt
     #0  set_quotes (lq=0x34c78 "<QUOTE>", rq=0x34c88 "<UNQUOTE>")
         at input.c:530
     #1  0x6344 in m4_changequote (argc=3, argv=0x33c70)
         at builtin.c:882
     #2  0x8174 in expand_macro (sym=0x33320) at macro.c:242
     #3  0x7a88 in expand_token (obs=0x0, t=209696, td=0xf7fffa30)
         at macro.c:71
     #4  0x79dc in expand_input () at macro.c:40
     #5  0x2930 in main (argc=0, argv=0xf7fffb20) at m4.c:195
We step through a few more lines to see what happens.  The first two
times, we can use `s'; the next two times we use `n' to avoid falling
into the `xstrdup' subroutine.
     (gdb) s
     0x3b5c  532         if (rquote != def_rquote)
     (gdb) s
     0x3b80  535         lquote = (lq == nil || *lq == '\0') ?  \
     def_lquote : xstrdup(lq);
     (gdb) n
     536         rquote = (rq == nil || *rq == '\0') ? def_rquote\
      : xstrdup(rq);
     (gdb) n
     538         len_lquote = strlen(rquote);
The last line displayed looks a little odd; we can examine the variables
`lquote' and `rquote' to see if they are in fact the new left and right
quotes we specified.  We use the command `p' (`print') to see their
     (gdb) p lquote
     $1 = 0x35d40 "<QUOTE>"
     (gdb) p rquote
     $2 = 0x35d50 "<UNQUOTE>"
`lquote' and `rquote' are indeed the new left and right quotes.  To
look at some context, we can display ten lines of source surrounding
the current line with the `l' (`list') command.
     (gdb) l
     533             xfree(rquote);
     535         lquote = (lq == nil || *lq == '\0') ? def_lquote\
      : xstrdup (lq);
     536         rquote = (rq == nil || *rq == '\0') ? def_rquote\
      : xstrdup (rq);
     538         len_lquote = strlen(rquote);
     539         len_rquote = strlen(lquote);
     540     }
     542     void
Let us step past the two lines that set `len_lquote' and `len_rquote',
and then examine the values of those variables.
     (gdb) n
     539         len_rquote = strlen(lquote);
     (gdb) n
     540     }
     (gdb) p len_lquote
     $3 = 9
     (gdb) p len_rquote
     $4 = 7
That certainly looks wrong, assuming `len_lquote' and `len_rquote' are
meant to be the lengths of `lquote' and `rquote' respectively.  We can
set them to better values using the `p' command, since it can print the
value of any expression--and that expression can include subroutine
calls and assignments.
     (gdb) p len_lquote=strlen(lquote)
     $5 = 7
     (gdb) p len_rquote=strlen(rquote)
     $6 = 9
Is that enough to fix the problem of using the new quotes with the `m4'
built-in `defn'?  We can allow `m4' to continue executing with the `c'
(`continue') command, and then try the example that caused trouble
     (gdb) c

baz 0000

Success!  The new quotes now work just as well as the default ones.  The
problem seems to have been just the two typos defining the wrong
lengths.  We allow `m4' exit by giving it an EOF as input:
     Program exited normally.
The message `Program exited normally.' is from GDB; it indicates `m4'
has finished executing.  We can end our GDB session with the GDB `quit'
     (gdb) quit