How to use GDB

Below are some useful GDB commands that can help us debug our programs. This assumes you have flashed a program onto your microcontroller and attached to an OpenOCD session.

General Debugging

NOTE: Many of the commands you see below can be executed using a short form. For example, continue can simply be used as c, or break $location can be used as b $location. Once you have experience with the commands below, try to see how short you can get the commands to go before GDB doesn't recognize them!

Dealing with Breakpoints

  • break $location: Set a breakpoint at a place in your code. The value of $location can include:
    • break *main - Break on the exact address of the function main
    • break *0x080012f2 - Break on the exact memory location 0x080012f2
    • break 123 - Break on line 123 of the currently displayed file
    • break - Break on line 123 of the file
  • info break: Display current breakpoints
  • delete: Delete all breakpoints
    • delete $n: Delete breakpoint $n (n being a number. For example: delete $2)
  • clear: Delete breakpoint at next instruction
    • clear$function: Delete breakpoint at entry of $function in
    • clear Delete breakpoint on line 123 of
  • enable: Enable all set breakpoints
    • enable $n: Enable breakpoint $n
  • disable: Disable all set breakpoints
    • disable $n: Disable breakpoint $n

Controlling Execution

  • continue: Begin or continue execution of your program
  • next: Execute the next line of your program
    • next $n: Repeat next $n number times
  • nexti: Same as next but with machine instructions instead
  • step: Execute the next line, if the next line includes a call to another function, step into that code
    • step $n: Repeat step $n number times
  • stepi: Same as step but with machine instructions instead
  • jump $location: Resume execution at specified location:
    • jump 123: Resume execution at line 123
    • jump 0x080012f2: Resume execution at address 0x080012f2

Printing Information

  • print /$f $data - Print the value contained by the variable $data. Optionally format the output with $f, which can include:
    x: hexadecimal 
    d: signed decimal
    u: unsigned decimal
    o: octal
    t: binary
    a: address
    c: character
    f: floating point
    • print /t 0xA: Prints the hexadecimal value 0xA as binary (0b1010)
  • x /$n$u$f $address: Examine memory at $address. Optionally, $n define the number of units to display, $u unit size (bytes, halfwords, words, etc), $f any print format defined above
    • x /5i 0x080012c4: Print 5 machine instructions staring at address 0x080012c4
    • x/4xb $pc: Print 4 bytes of memory starting where $pc currently is pointing
  • disassemble $location
    • disassemble /r main: Disassemble the function main, using /r to show the bytes that make up each instruction

Looking at the Symbol Table

  • info functions $regex: Print the names and data types of functions matched by $regex, omit $regex to print all functions
    • info functions main: Print names and types of defined functions that contain the word main
  • info address $symbol: Print where $symbol is stored in memory
    • info address GPIOC: Print the memory address of the variable GPIOC
  • info variables $regex: Print names and types of global variables matched by $regex, omit $regex to print all global variables
  • ptype $data: Print more detailed information about $data
    • ptype cp: Print detailed type information about the variable cp

Poking around the Program Stack

  • backtrace $n: Print trace of $n frames, or omit $n to print all frames
    • backtrace 2: Print trace of first 2 frames
  • frame $n: Select frame with number or address $n, omit $n to display current frame
  • up $n: Select frame $n frames up
  • down $n: Select frame $n frames down
  • info frame $address: Describe frame at $address, omit $address for currently selected frame
  • info args: Print arguments of selected frame
  • info registers $r: Print the value of register $r in selected frame, omit $r for all registers
    • info registers $sp: Print the value of the stack pointer register $sp in the current frame

Controlling OpenOCD Remotely

  • monitor reset run: Reset the CPU, starting execution over again
    • monitor reset: Same as above
  • monitor reset init: Reset the CPU, halting execution at the start
  • monitor targets: Display information and state of current target