Still unclear whether kgdb debugger will find its way into Kernel

Aug 03, 2007

Does the kgdb debugger still stand a chance of making it into the kernel? It might make it into the next release but one.

This question was raised by developer Mike Frysinger. The background is the unsettled history of the debugger. There was an attempt to merge the kdgb tree as early as 2004; its failure was due in part to resistance from Linus Torvalds, who isn't all that fond of the debugger. "I don't like debuggers. Never have, probably never will.", Linus stated in a posting to the following mailing list in the year 2000, going on to explain that he didn't want to make Kernel development too easy. Despite this, the debugger has still made its way into a number of patch sets for specific architectures, such as i386, x86_64, PPC and ARM in Andrew Morton's branch of the kernel.

Morton's response to Frysinger's question was that was "hoping for a 2.6.24 merge." He hadn't actually looked at the code himself, but he hoped that another kernel developer would review it soon. Morton's went on to say that they would just fix the code if it was broken – after all there were always bugs.

Kgdb debugger is a product by Linsyssoft Technologies. The free variant is released under the GPL. The commercial version offers extended functionality and costs around US$ 1500 per year.

Both versions are available as a kernel patch. To use kgdb for troubleshooting you need two computers linked either via the RS232 port or an Ethernet network (KGDBoE). The debug target runs the patched kernel, while the other host runs the GNU debugger. Communicationss between the two machines rely on the Gdb Remote Protocol.

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