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This page is intended to help you gather useful information when you encounter a software crash, and maybe fixing it by yourself.


First, you should install the -debug packages of the applications and all the libraries that might be involved. It will allow all the debugging tools to report more useful information.

gdb itself will give you the command line to run in order to install these -debug packages and restart gdb. Now you can start collecting useful information using the various tools listed below.

To be able to install -debug packages, you need to add or enable the separate -debug repositories. If you've added a full set of repositories via Mageia software management, all you need to do is update them with the following command in a terminal as root:

 urpmi.update --no-ignore debug


The gdb program is the GNU debugger. When a program crashes due to a segmentation fault or an abort, gdb will allow you to get a backtrace, that is the place in the program where the error occurred.

Running your application inside gdb

If you can reproduce the crash easily, then you can run your application inside gdb and get useful information when the crash happens.

  • Start gdb giving it the path to your application and tell it to run with, if needed, the parameters.
$ gdb /bin/cat 
GNU gdb 6.3-7mdv2007.0 (Mandriva Linux release 2007.0)
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 "x86_64-mandriva-linux-gnu"...(no debugging symbols found)
Using host libthread_db library "/lib64/".

(gdb)run /proc
Starting program: /bin/cat /proc
/bin/cat: /proc: Is a directory

Program exited with code 01.
  • If you get messages about signal 33, you need to tell gdb to not stop on them and pass them to the application, and then restart it:
Program received signal SIG33, Real-time event 33.
[Switching to Thread 1182845264 (LWP 11543)]
0x00002b661d87d536 in pthread_cond_wait@@GLIBC_2.3.2 () from /lib/
(gdb) handle SIG33 nostop noprint noignore pass
Signal        Stop      Print   Pass to program Description
SIG33         No        No      Yes             Real-time event 33
(gdb) kill
Kill the program being debugged? (y or n) y
(gdb) run
  • When the program crashes, you'll get a gdb prompt. Get the backtrace with the command bt full, this is the information needed in the bug report. If the previous messages talk about threads, you should get all the backtraces with thread apply all bt full.
(gdb) bt full
#0  0x00002b526953c7ef in poll () from /lib64/
No symbol table info available.
#1  0x00002b52691f412e in g_main_context_iterate (context=0x51f2d0, block=1, dispatch=1, 
self=Variable "self" is not available.) at gc:2977
max_priority = 2147483647
timeout = 30000
some_ready = Variable "some_ready" is not available.

Running gdb on a core file

If for some reason you can't easily reproduce the crash inside gdb but got a core file, you can do a post-mortem analysis. For example

[user@computer ~]$ gdb /bin/cat core.42
[user@computer ~]$ _

then get the backtrace with

thread apply all bt full

(If no core gets generated after a segfault, try running ulimit -c unlimited in the shell from which you'll start your application).

Attaching gdb to a running application

Debugging applications with complex startups, e.g. system services, can be tricky since you may not know all of the parameters used with the binary when it's launched.

In such cases (assuming the crash doesn't occur during startup) you can attach gdb to a running instance of the application.

First, identify the process in which the crash will occur, e.g. with

ps ax | grep //application name//. If the application is running multiple processes, try noting them all, causing the crash, and checking syslog to see which of them actually crashed; when you restart the application, you can attach gdb to the process which occupies the same relative place in the list.

Next, attach gdb to the process using

gdb executable-name process-id

Doing this will cause gdb to attach to that process and suspend it. To resume its execution, use the gdb c command.

Finally, cause the crash, which will result in gdb telling you about it and putting up a prompt, at which you can request a backtrace.

If you have to run gdb from a tty, pipe the output to a text file (so that you can attach it to a bug report later on); this can be done by using the tee command, for example:

gdb /bin/cat 2>&1 | tee logfile.txt

this will save all the output to that logfile.txt. When you're done, the output file will have a record of your gdb session.

Debugging Apache in Mageia 2

Debugging apache became problematic in Mageia 2. The script below should be useful.


# debugging apache got broken with systemd in mga2, it used to be as easy as:
# "/etc/rc.d/init.d/httpd stop; /etc/rc.d/init.d/httpd debug"
# this script should do the trick.
# Oden Eriksson <>

/etc/rc.d/init.d/httpd stop
defines=`/etc/rc.d/init.d/httpd show_defines`
gdb /usr/sbin/httpd --batch --quiet -ex "run -f /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf -DNO_DETACH -DONE_PROCESS -DDEBUG $defines" -ex "thread apply all bt full" -ex "quit"


The strace program will list all the system calls done by the application (open a file, read on a network socket, ...) and that can help finding some issues, like a missing file, a non-writeable directory... etc

You can run it with

strace -f -o \\outputfile\\ \\command\\

for example

strace -f -o ls.strace ls /tmp

will run ls /tmp and save all the system calls to the ls.strace file



When a program is run under Valgrind's supervision, all reads and writes of memory are checked, and calls to malloc/new/free/delete are intercepted. As a result, Valgrind can detect problems such as:

  • Use of uninitialised memory
  • Reading/writing memory after it has been free'd
  • Reading/writing off the end of malloc'd blocks
  • Reading/writing inappropriate areas on the stack
  • Memory leaks -- where pointers to malloc'd blocks are lost forever
  • Passing of uninitialised and/or unaddressible memory to system calls
  • Mismatched use of malloc/new/new [] vs free/delete/delete []

Go to the Bug Squad Portal