Welcome to Kernel Debugging Land...

Article contributed by bonefish on Mon, 2008-02-04 22:01

One of the most important tools of a Haiku kernel developer is the built-in kernel debugger. Nevertheless also developers more comfortable with userland hacking should not be shy to use it, as it can greatly help with various kinds of bugs and problems. This document sheds some light on its basic and advanced features.

In and Out

Unless the system entered KDL by itself, you can normally do that by invoking the keyboard shortcut Alt-SysReq-D. Note that in KDL your keyboard may not work. PS/2 keyboards always do, USB keyboards connected via UHCI controllers do only, if one has entered KDL via the keyboard shortcut at least once. USB OHCI is not supported at the moment.

Once the kernel debugger is running, the normal activities of the system are completely halted. Until it is exited, no thread will make any progress on any CPU, and hardware interrupts are disabled. So while in KDL (Kernel Debugging Land) one can leisurely examine an unmoving snapshot of the whole system. After using one of the commands to leave the kernel debugger (continue, exit, es), the system continues its normal operation. If it had encountered a serious problem before (like a page fault in the kernel), the odds are that it will immediately drop back into KDL, though. In this case the commands reboot or shutdown are the only way out. They cannot shutdown the system orderly though, meaning that data not written back to disk yet will be lost.

The Basic Infrastructure

Command Line Editing and Output

The kernel debugger has a simple command line interface. One can enter a command, and, after it has been executed, one is prompted for the next input. Basic command line editing is supported, that is HOME, END, the Cursor Left/Right keys, as well as DELETE and BACKSPACE work as expected. Ctrl-K clears the line beginning at the cursor position. Even a short command history is available. Cursor Up/Down navigate through the previously entered commands. Page Up/Down move to the previous/next line in the history that starts with the characters before the cursor.

Pressing TAB after typing a part of a command name will try to complete the name of the command, if possible. Ambiguities will be pointed out. Pressing TAB when the cursor is positioned after the command name and the space following it will invoke the command with the argument --help, which will, in most cases, print usage information for the command. Editing of the command line can then be continued.

The way the text that has been printed "scrolls", when the bottom of the screen is reached, needs some getting used to, since it doesn't scroll at all, but the cursor simply wraps around to the top of the screen, overwriting the oldest output. By default the output of a debugger command stops just before it overwrites what it has printed before, waiting for a key to be pressed before continuing. Pressing Q will cause the remaining output of that command to be discarded silently. The paging command toggles whether the output stops in such cases or continues without asking the user.


When looking for a command with a certain functionality without knowing its name, the help command can actually help. It lists all available commands, each with a short description. Giving help the first characters of a command name, the list will be restricted to the matching commands (e.g. "help a" lists all commands starting with "a").

A growing number of commands support being invoked with the argument --help. Those that do print a more detailed description how they can be used. As mentioned before, pressing TAB while editing the command line for such a command will print that info, too.

A Simple Calculator

Since kernel debugger sessions often involve lots of numbers flying around, basic arithmetic expressions are supported. The expr command will evaluate them for you and print the result.

kdebug> expr (0x898afe36 + 17 * 4 - 0x8014d184) / 32
4960615 (0x4bb167)

Internally the numbers are represented as unsigned 64 bit integer values (and expr prints them that way), which means that negative numbers are shown as huge positive numbers. Most operations involving negatives work fine nonetheless, exceptions are division (/) and modulo (%).

kdebug> expr 7 + 3 * -4
18446744073709551611 (0xfffffffffffffffb)
kdebug> expr -(7 + 3 * -4)
5 (0x5)
kdebug> expr -6 / -3
0 (0x0)

People familiar with the C language will know the unary * operator. It dereferences a given address pointer, i.e. looks up the value that is stored at that address. The kernel debugger supports that operator, too. By default it reads four bytes at the given address and interprets them as a number, but the number of bytes to be read (1, 2, 4, or 8) can be specified explicitely in curly braces. An error message will be printed, when trying to dereference an address that does not exist.

kdebug> expr *0x80000000
1179403647 (0x464c457f)
kdebug> expr *{2}0x80000000
17791 (0x457f)
kdebug> expr *0x17
failed to dereference address 0x00000017, at position: 0, in expression: *0x17

While it is nice to be able to print the value of an arithmetic expression, it is often not necessary to do that, since one usually just wants to pass the value to a command, and the value of an expression can be provided as an argument to a command by simply putting that expression in parentheses. For example the db command, which takes an address and a number of bytes and prints that many bytes read from the memory starting at the given address, can be invoked like this:

kdebug> db (0x80000000 + 100) (6 * 4)
[0x80000064]  ................   09 00 00 00 09 00 00 00 04 00 00 00 01 00 00 00
[0x80000074]  ........           01 00 00 00 00 00 00 00


Since it's not possible to scroll the output on the screen, values that might be of interest later will probably already be overwritten when they are needed. Fortunately variables can be defined to hold values for later use. They can be set by the assignment operator (=), modified by the operators +=, -=, *=, /=, %=, and unset via unset. The vars command prints all variables that are defined.

kdebug> a = 7
kdebug> b = 3 + a
kdebug> a -= 2
kdebug> expr c = b - a
5 (0x5)
kdebug> unset a
kdebug> vars
               b: 10 (0xa)
               c: 5 (0x5)
         _thread: 2148328320 (0x800ce380)
       _threadID: 1 (0x1)
           _team: 2424574464 (0x90841200)
         _teamID: 1 (0x1)
            _cpu: 0 (0x0)
               _: 5 (0x5)

In the example several additional variables with a name starting with an underscore are listed. Those are called temporary variables and in this case (except _) they have been set automatically when the kernel debugger was entered. _thread is the pointer to the current thread's kernel internal management structure, _threadID its ID, _team the current team's kernel structure, _teamID its ID, and _cpu the index of the CPU the kernel debugger is running on.

Several commands also set temporary variables as a side effect, e.g. sem, which prints information about a semaphore, also sets the variable _owner (the ID of the team owning the semaphore) and others. The temporary variable _ is by convention used as the return value of a command (if it has one). In the example above expr set it to 5, which was the value of the expression it evaluated.

The number of temporary variables is limited. When the limit has been reached and another variable is defined, the least recently used variable is evicted automatically. This holds only for temporary variables, though; non temporary variables have a limit too, but they are fully controlled by the user. When that limit is hit, no new variable can be defined until another one has been unset explicitly.

The Most Popular Commmands


sc ("stack crawl"), alias bt ("back trace"), alias where, prints a stack trace of the thread with the given ID or the address of the thread's kernel structure. With no argument given, the current thread on the current CPU is selected.

kdebug> sc
stack trace for thread 0x53 "event loop"
    kernel stack: 0x90746000 to 0x9074a000
      user stack: 0x70145000 to 0x70185000
frame            caller     <image>:function + offset
90749c54 (+  52) 8008187f   <kernel>:invoke_debugger_command + 0x00cf
90749c88 (+  64) 80082620   <kernel>:_ParseCommand__16ExpressionParserRi + 0x01f8
90749cc8 (+  48) 80082012   <kernel>:EvaluateCommand__16ExpressionParserPCcRi + 0x01de
90749cf8 (+ 228) 80083734   <kernel>:evaluate_debug_command + 0x0088
90749ddc (+  64) 80080680   <kernel>:kernel_debugger_loop__Fv + 0x0184
90749e1c (+  32) 800811b5   <kernel>:kernel_debugger + 0x00c9
90749e3c (+ 192) 800810e1   <kernel>:panic + 0x0029
90749efc (+  48) 90771e19   </boot/beos/system/add-ons/kernel/bus_managers/ps2>:ps2_interrupt + 0x00cd
90749f2c (+  64) 80027798   <kernel>:int_io_interrupt_handler + 0x00ac
90749f6c (+  48) 8008f75a   <kernel>:hardware_interrupt + 0x007a
90749f9c (+  12) 800928a6   <kernel>:int_bottom_user + 0x005a (nearest)
iframe at 0x90749fa8 (end = 0x9074a000)
 eax 0x13           ebx 0x2cdc78        ecx 0x180f7300   edx 0x29cd3
 esi 0x6a           edi 0x92e3f054      ebp 0x70184acc   esp 0x90749fdc
 eip 0x2900f5    eflags 0x202
 vector: 0x21, error code: 0x0
90749fa8 (+   0) 002900f5   <_APP_>:_CopyToFront__C11HWInterfacePUcUlllll + 0x0279
70184acc (+ 176) 0028f653   <_APP_>:CopyBackToFront__11HWInterfaceRC5BRect + 0x028b
70184b7c (+  48) 0028f3bd   <_APP_>:Invalidate__11HWInterfaceRC5BRect + 0x0049
70184bac (+ 416) 00288c66   <_APP_>:CopyRegion__13DrawingEngineP7BRegionll + 0x0686
70184d4c (+ 208) 00247839   <_APP_>:MoveWindowBy__7DesktopP11WindowLayerffl + 0x02e5
70184e1c (+ 112) 002808ac   <_APP_>:MouseMoved__11WindowLayerP8BMessageG6BPointPlb + 0x0244
70184e8c (+  96) 002434ea   <_APP_>:Filter__11MouseFilterP8BMessagePP11EventTargetPlT1 + 0x016a
70184eec (+ 144) 0024ef46   <_APP_>:_EventLoop__15EventDispatcher + 0x02ae
70184f7c (+  48) 0024f657   <_APP_>:_event_looper__15EventDispatcherPv + 0x001f
70184fac (+  48) 00783264   <libroot.so>:_get_next_team_info + 0x005c (nearest)
70184fdc (+   0) 70184fec   762:event loop_53_stack@0x70145000 + 0x3ffec

The stack trace is so interesting, because it shows exactly in which function the thread is currently, from what function that function has been called, and so on. Also shown are the addresses of the so called stack frames, which are the base addresses of the respective functions' parameters and local variables.

Roughly in the middle the example stack trace above is interrupted by an iframe (interrupt frame). An iframe ends up on the stack when a userland thread performs a syscall (system call), or an exception (page fault, division by zero) or a hardware interrupt occurs. The bottommost iframe shown for a userland thread is always the one for the transition to the kernel. In the example we can see that it happened due to a hardware interrupt, which is unsurprising as it was caused by pressing the Alt-SysReq-D combo. An iframe captures the processor registers at the time, so together with a disassembly of the respective function it is possible to reconstruct, what exactly is happening there.


teams lists all existing teams, with their name, ID, and parent team.

kdebug> teams
team           id  parent      name
0x90841200      1  0x00000000  kernel_team
0x90b0c200    128  0x909df600  sh
0x909c0200     68  0x90906800  input_server
0x908f4e00     41  0x90841200  registrar
0x909c0e00     78  0x90841200  Tracker
0x908f9600     47  0x90841200  debug_server
0x909d3600     79  0x90841200  Deskbar
0x90906200     48  0x90841200  net_server
0x90906800     49  0x90841200  app_server
0x909df600     81  0x90841200  Terminal
0x909e4000     82  0x90841200  media_server
0x90aaf200    114  0x909e4000  media_addon_server
0x909e4a00     84  0x90841200  midi_server
0x909f0200     85  0x90841200  print_server
0x90906e00     61  0x90841200  syslog_daemon

Usually this is the first command used, when looking for a problem in a certain program, since the listing yields its team ID.


threads lists all threads of a specified team, or all existing threads, if no argument is given.

kdebug> threads 78
thread         id  state        sem/cv cpu pri  stack      team  name
0x90b2d000    138  waiting        3921   -   5  0x99be1000   78  TrashWatcher
0x90b14000    139  waiting        3950   -   5  0x99be5000   78  ClipboardRefsWatcher
0x90b28000    140  waiting        3961   -   5  0x99bd9000   78  AutoMounter
0x90915000     78  waiting        2768   -  10  0x906d1000   78  Tracker
0x90b1e000    144  waiting        3995   -  15  0x99bf5000   78  w>Desktop
0x90abc000    115  waiting        3220   -  15  0x99b26000   78  w>Tracker Status
0x90b43000    147  zzz             120   -   5  0x99d00000   78  TrackerTaskLoop

For each thread a compact one line info is printed. It consists of the thread's kernel structure pointer, its ID, current state (running, waiting, etc.), the ID of the semaphore or condition variable it is currently waiting on (if any), and other info.


sem prints information about a semaphore, which can be specified by ID, address of its kernel structure, or by name (though semaphore names need not be unique).

debug> sem 2768
SEM: 0x9930e700
id:      2768 (0xad0)
name:    'AppLooperPort'
owner:   -1
count:   -1
queue:   78
last acquired by: 78, count: 1
last released by: 78, count: 1

Of special interest, particularly when analyzing deadlock situations, are the "last acquired" and "last released" rows. "last acquired" shows the ID of the thread that last acquired the semaphore successfully. This number is negated, if the semaphore was released afterwards. In a case of deadlock looking what the last acquiring thread is doing, will usually give some clue about what's the problem. In a simple situation, it would wait for a semaphore that the first thread acquired last.

Userland deadlocks involving benaphore-style BLockers (the default) can't be analyzed that easily, since the respective sempahores will not have been acquired by the threads holding the locks. In most cases stack traces of the team's threads will help understanding those deadlocks as well, though.

Kernel Tracing

A quite powerful debugging feature of the Haiku kernel is kernel tracing. The kernel can reserve a specified amount of memory as tracing buffer and use it to record information when certain events occur. In the kernel debugger the recorded entries can be filtered and printed, thus providing an analysis tool for tracking down bugs and other problems. One of the great advantages of kernel tracing over usual debug output into a file or via a serial connection is that it comes with a significantly lower performance penalty, which in most cases is in fact even less than the error of measurement. Also very nice is, that the data are available right in the kernel debugger, so that one can analyze them in combination with the halted system.

Enabling It

Kernel tracing is a compile time feature, that is it has to be enabled when building Haiku. This can be done in the header file build/user_config_headers/tracing_config.h (create the folder and copy build/config_headers/tracing_config.h which contains the default settings) by changing the value of the ENABLE_TRACING macro to the value 1. Furthermore one needs to specify, what kinds of information shall be traced, which is done by setting the respective macros to a value greater than 0:

Enables tracing of block cache transactions. This is most likely only of interest for developers trying to track down block cache or file system bugs.
Enables tracing of BMessage sending. Whenever a BMessage is sent, the message destination (team, port, token), the delivery method (direct, remote), and the message's "what" field will be recorded.
Enables tracing of memory allocations in the kernel. For every call to malloc(), free(), or realloc() in the kernel the given parameters and the result will be recorded.
Enables tracing of page allocations in the kernel. It will be recorded how pages are allocated, freed, reserved, stolen, or cleaned by the page scrubber.
Enables tracing of runtime loader activities. It will be recorded what executables, libraries, and add-ons are loaded.
Enables tracing of signals. It will be recorded when a signal is sent, handled, masked, or a signal handler is installed.
Enables tracing of syscalls. It will be recorded when a userland thread entered the kernel to execute a syscall (including the syscall's parameters) and when it is about to exit the kernel again. Usually one also wants to define the macro SYSCALL_TRACING_IGNORE_KTRACE_OUTPUT. It skips tracing of the _kern_ktrace_output() syscall, which itself adds a tracing entry.
Enables tracing of team operations. It will be recorded when a team is fork()ed or exec()ed and when a team waits for its children.
Enables tracing of memory allocations in userland applications. For every call to malloc(), free(), or realloc(), etc. the given parameters and the result will be recorded. Note, that this has a considerable performance impact.

The MAX_TRACE_SIZE macro defines the size of the tracing buffer (in bytes). The default of 1 MB is a little tight, if a lot of information is recorded. The tracing buffer is a ring buffer, i.e. when full it will start overwriting the oldest entries.

The traced Command

The traced kernel debugger command prints the recorded tracing information. Since usually there will be many recorded entries, there are several parameters to specify which subset shall be printed. The entries in the tracing buffer are indexed; the oldest one in the buffer has index 1. The first parameter of traced is the index of an entry and the second parameter the number of entries to be printed.

kdebug> traced 120 10
  120. [    75] 62203012: syscall pre:  _kern_read_port_etc(0x1025, 0x7003ff58, 0x7003ff24, 0x0, 0x0, 0x0)
  121. [    75] 62203037: syscall post: _kern_read_port_etc() -> 0x0
  122. [    75] 62203330: syscall pre:  _kern_release_sem(0x857)
  123. [    75] 62203352: syscall post: _kern_release_sem() -> 0x0
  124. [    75] 62203545: syscall pre:  _kern_ktrace_output(0x7003f9ac)
  125. [    75] 62203558: user: BMessage send remote: team: -1, port: 4136, token: 0, message: '_MMV'
  126. [    75] 62203567: syscall post: _kern_ktrace_output() -> 0x20
  127. [    75] 62203683: syscall pre:  _kern_write_port_etc(0x1028, 0x706a7070, 0x1801c100, 0x121, 0x8, 0x1)
  128. [    75] 62203724: syscall post: _kern_write_port_etc() -> 0x0
  129. [    75] 62203871: syscall pre:  _kern_port_buffer_size_etc(0x1025, 0x0, 0x0)
printed 10 entries within range 120 to 129 (10 of 20655 total, 189725 ever)

The common information listed for each entry are the index, (in square brackets) the ID of the thread logging the entry, and the system time (in microseconds) when the entry was logged. The following data are specific to the type of the entry. A final line at the end of the listing tells us how many entries have been printed and from what index range (later examples will show that these information are not always that obvious), as well as how many entries are currently in the buffer and how many have been logged so far.

The second parameter to the command can be omitted; it defaults to 30. If given and negative, it changes the meaning of the first parameter. Instead of specifying the first entry to print, it will refer to the last one, and the negated value of the second parameter defines the number of entries to list.

kdebug> traced 120 -5
  116. [   117] 62202452: syscall pre:  _kern_write_port_etc(0x1025, 0x1, 0x0, 0x0, 0x8, 0x0)
  117. [   117] 62202490: syscall post: _kern_write_port_etc() -> 0x0
  118. [   117] 62202637: syscall pre:  _kern_ioctl(0x13, 0x2773, 0x70143f54, 0x58cca4)
  119. [    75] 62202872: syscall post: _kern_port_buffer_size_etc() -> 0x0
  120. [    75] 62203012: syscall pre:  _kern_read_port_etc(0x1025, 0x7003ff58, 0x7003ff24, 0x0, 0x0, 0x0)
printed 5 entries within range 116 to 120 (5 of 20655 total, 189725 ever)

A special value for the first parameter is 0 (or any negative value). It refers to the last entry in the buffer, and furthermore causes the second parameter to be interpreted as if negative. This makes it easy to print the last recorded entries.

Looking through tens or hundreds of thousands entries using traced with only those two parameters is quite impractical. Hence there's a simple but powerful filter mechanism. A filter is passed to traced as a list of additional parameters preceded by the keyword filter. It can consist of several basic filters which can be combined via boolean operators to a complex expression. Those operators are and, or, and not, and they are used in prefix notation, meaning that the operator comes first and is followed by its one respectively two arguments. This needs a little getting used to, but has the advantages that it doesn't require parentheses (which are already reserved for numeric kernel debugger expressions) and that it keeps parsing very simple. The basic filters are:

thread <thread id>
Matches those entries recorded by the thread with the specified ID.
team <team id>
Matches those entries recorded by a thread of the team with the specified ID.
Matches those entries whose printed representation contains the specified case-sensitive pattern (actually not a real pattern, just a string). If the string contains spaces it must be put in quotes (including the #).

Very useful in combination with filters is the optional third numeric parameter of traced. It specifies how many entries shall at most be searched for matches (as opposed to the second parameter which limits the number of entries to be printed). If omitted the same value as given for the second parameter is used. The special value -1 means that all entries in the buffer shall be searched, which is usually what one wants, but can potentially take a long time, when the tracing buffer is large and contains many entries. In the following example we search for entries from the team 41 containing the text "BMessage", printing five at a time at maximum.

kdebug> traced 0 5 -1 filter and team 41 #BMessage
16337. [    44] 70393163: user: BMessage send direct: port: 4, token: 1, message: 'rgir'
18402. [    44] 71396774: user: BMessage send direct: port: 4, token: 1, message: 'rgir'
19248. [    44] 72402239: user: BMessage send direct: port: 4, token: 1, message: 'rgir'
19875. [    44] 73404928: user: BMessage send direct: port: 4, token: 1, message: 'rgir'
20489. [    44] 74408450: user: BMessage send direct: port: 4, token: 1, message: 'rgir'
printed 5 entries within range 16337 to 20655 (4319 of 20655 total, 189725 ever)
kdebug> traced
 6027. [    44] 65359596: user: BMessage send direct: port: 4, token: 1, message: 'rgir'
 6635. [    44] 66363060: user: BMessage send direct: port: 4, token: 1, message: 'rgir'
 8968. [    44] 67366540: user: BMessage send direct: port: 4, token: 1, message: 'rgir'
11422. [    44] 68378551: user: BMessage send direct: port: 4, token: 1, message: 'rgir'
13845. [    44] 69386518: user: BMessage send direct: port: 4, token: 1, message: 'rgir'
printed 5 entries within range 6027 to 16336 (10310 of 20655 total, 189725 ever)
  611. [    44] 62346221: user: BMessage send direct: port: 4, token: 1, message: 'rgir'
 2770. [    44] 63351796: user: BMessage send direct: port: 4, token: 1, message: 'rgir'
 5155. [    44] 64355661: user: BMessage send direct: port: 4, token: 1, message: 'rgir'
printed 3 entries within range 1 to 6026 (6026 of 20655 total, 189725 ever)

The example also shows another feature of the traced command. When invoked without any parameters it continues the search of the previous invocation. In this case the search continues backward (start index 0 implies backward search), still listing at most five entries at a time. In this form (and only in this form) traced is continuable, meaning that just hitting enter will invoke it again. This makes browsing through entries quite convenient.

traced supports some switch options which can be given before the first numerical argument. One is --printteam which causes the ID of the team that logged the entry to be printed as well (after colon in the square brackets). When --difftime is specified only for the first entry the absolute system time is printed. For subsequent entries the time difference to the previously printed entry will be shown. While this is not exactly a profiling option, it can at least be used to get a first impression.

kdebug> traced --printteam 0 6 -1 filter #BMessage
87852. [    69:    69]   25882947: user: BMessage send remote: team: 82, port: 8252, token: -2, message: '
87960. [    75:    69]   25952695: user: BMessage send remote: team: -1, port: 4136, token: 0, message: '_MUP'
87973. [    88:    49]   25954926: user: BMessage send remote: team: 82, port: 28753, token: -2, message: '_MUP'
87980. [    88:    49]   25955064: user: BMessage send remote: team: 80, port: 32872, token: -2, message: '_MUP'
88148. [   141:    78]   26090266: user: BMessage send remote: team: -1, port: 28, token: -2, message: 'Iuim'
88161. [    69:    69]   26090779: user: BMessage send remote: team: 78, port: 8245, token: -2, message: '
printed 6 entries within range 87852 to 88451 (600 of 88451 total, 88451 ever)
kdebug> traced --difftime 0 7 -1 filter thread 43
88197. [    43]   26159620: syscall pre:  _kern_snooze_etc(0x186a0, 0x0, 0x8)
88254. [    43]     100557: syscall post: _kern_snooze_etc() -> 0x0
88255. [    43]         70: syscall pre:  _kern_snooze_etc(0x186a0, 0x0, 0x8)
88406. [    43]     100593: syscall post: _kern_snooze_etc() -> 0x0
88407. [    43]         65: syscall pre:  _kern_snooze_etc(0x186a0, 0x0, 0x8)
88440. [    43]     100656: syscall post: _kern_snooze_etc() -> 0x0
88441. [    43]         71: syscall pre:  _kern_snooze_etc(0x186a0, 0x0, 0x8)
printed 7 entries within range 88197 to 88451 (255 of 88451 total, 88451 ever)

An Example Debug Session

The previous sections introduced all that is needed to hunt down quite a variety of bugs and problems. Not in all cases the kernel debugger is the best choice, though. For easily reproducible bugs in userland applications simple printf() debugging or using gdb as a source level debugger might be a better choice. Some problems, however -- particularly ones that are hard to reproduce, lead to situations that make userland debugging impossible (e.g. when not being able to start the Terminal anymore), or are race conditions that disappear when adding too much debug output -- can often better be analyzed with the kernel debugger.

This section documents a debug session that uncovers bug #1745 which occurs in revision 23864. It's the first time I encountered the bug and, thanks to always having kernel tracing enabled for syscalls, signals, teams, and BMessages, all the information needed for the analysis were already available. The symptoms of the bug are that right after booting the Deskbar hangs and Tracker doesn't even show up. Here we go...

PANIC: keyboard requested halt.

Welcome to Kernel Debugging Land...
Running on CPU 0
kdebug> teams
team           id  parent      name
0x9083e200      1  0x00000000  kernel_team
0x908f0c00     36  0x9083e200  registrar
0x90992e00     69  0x9083e200  Tracker
0x908f5a00     40  0x9083e200  debug_server
0x909b2e00     72  0x9083e200  Deskbar
0x909cb000     73  0x9083e200  sh
0x90900000     43  0x9083e200  net_server
0x90900600     44  0x9083e200  app_server
0x909dd000     77  0x9083e200  Terminal
0x909dd600     78  0x9083e200  media_server
0x909f4400     80  0x9083e200  midi_server
0x90a40a00     81  0x9083e200  print_server
0x90afd200    115  0x909dd000  sh
0x909cba00     87  0x909cb000  ProcessController
0x90900c00     56  0x9083e200  syslog_daemon
0x90b08c00    121  0x909dd600  media_addon_server
0x909b1c00     61  0x90900600  input_server
kdebug> tracker=69
kdebug> deskbar=72
kdebug> threads (tracker)
thread         id  state        sem/cv cpu pri  stack      team  name
0x90b25800    128  waiting        3834   -   5  0x90784000   69  TrashWatcher
0x90ac7800     97  waiting        2974   -  15  0x906ed000   69  w>Tracker Status
0x90b40800    129  waiting        3866   -   5  0x90788000   69  ClipboardRefsWatcher
0x90b3f800    130  waiting        3877   -   5  0x9079b000   69  AutoMounter
0x90919000     69  waiting        2595   -  10  0x9063d000   69  Tracker
0x90b48000    133  waiting        3917   -  15  0x99a0f000   69  w>Desktop

teams tells us that, although it didn't show up, Tracker is actually running. According to threads all of its usual threads are there, too. Let's see, what is keeping the desktop window ("w>Desktop") from showing any icons:

kdebug> sem 3917
SEM: 0x99318e70
id:      3917 (0xf4d)
name:    'TrackerWindow'
owner:   69
count:   -1
queue:   133
last acquired by: 69, count: 1
last released by: 133, count: 1
kdebug> sc 133
stack trace for thread 133 "w>Desktop"
    kernel stack: 0x99a0f000 to 0x99a13000
      user stack: 0x70145000 to 0x70185000
frame            caller     <image>:function + offset
99a12e48 (+  32) 8002d352   <kernel>:context_switch__FP6threadT0 + 0x0026
99a12e68 (+  64) 8002d5e6   <kernel>:scheduler_reschedule + 0x0272
99a12ea8 (+  96) 8002ea5d   <kernel>:switch_sem_etc + 0x039d
99a12f08 (+  64) 8002f303   <kernel>:_user_acquire_sem_etc + 0x0027
99a12f48 (+  96) 80091a13   <kernel>:x86_sysenter + 0x00ef (nearest)
iframe at 0x99a12fa8 (end = 0x99a13000)
 eax 0xc            ebx 0x766048        ecx 0x70184df0   edx 0xffff0104
 esi 0xffffffff     edi 0x7fffffff      ebp 0x70184e2c   esp 0x99a12fdc
 eip 0xffff0104  eflags 0x203
 vector: 0x63, error code: 0x0
99a12fa8 (+   0) ffff0104
70184e2c (+  64) 002e7f7c   <libbe.so>:_LockComplete__7BLooperP7BLooperlllx + 0x0034
70184e6c (+  80) 002e7e89   <libbe.so>:_Lock__7BLooperP7BLooperlx + 0x01c1
70184ebc (+  48) 002e6e81   <libbe.so>:Lock__7BLooper + 0x002d
70184eec (+ 128) 003be877   <libbe.so>:task_looper__7BWindow + 0x0137
70184f6c (+  64) 002e82cb   <libbe.so>:_task0___7BLooperPv + 0x0053
70184fac (+  48) 006e9264   <libroot.so>:_get_next_team_info + 0x005c (nearest)
70184fdc (+   0) 70184fec   1261:w>TrackerWindow_133_stack@0x70145000 + 0x3ffec
kdebug> desktop=133

The semaphore the window thread is waiting for belongs to the BWindow lock. The thread is in the window's message dispatcher loop, trying to lock the window, so that it can dispatch the next message. Someone else already has the lock and apparently doesn't release it. Unfortunately the lock in question is a benaphore-style BLocker, so that sems "last acquired" output usually isn't of much help. In this case it shows thread 69, Tracker's main thread, as last acquirer. It may or may not be the actual owner of the lock; at any rate it doesn't harm to have a closer look what the thread is up to:

kdebug> sc (tracker)
stack trace for thread 69 "Tracker"
    kernel stack: 0x9063d000 to 0x90641000
      user stack: 0x7efe7000 to 0x7ffe7000
frame            caller     <image>:function + offset
90640dd8 (+  32) 8002d352   <kernel>:context_switch__FP6threadT0 + 0x0026
90640df8 (+  64) 8002d5e6   <kernel>:scheduler_reschedule + 0x0272
90640e38 (+  96) 8002ea5d   <kernel>:switch_sem_etc + 0x039d
90640e98 (+  64) 8002e692   <kernel>:acquire_sem_etc + 0x0026
90640ed8 (+  80) 8002bd6c   <kernel>:port_buffer_size_etc + 0x00ec
90640f28 (+  32) 8002c859   <kernel>:_user_port_buffer_size_etc + 0x001d
90640f48 (+  96) 80091a13   <kernel>:x86_sysenter + 0x00ef (nearest)
iframe at 0x90640fa8 (end = 0x90641000)
 eax 0x8f           ebx 0x766048        ecx 0x7ffe5f80   edx 0xffff0104
 esi 0xffffffff     edi 0x7fffffff      ebp 0x7ffe5fac   esp 0x90640fdc
 eip 0xffff0104  eflags 0x216
 vector: 0x63, error code: 0x0
90640fa8 (+   0) ffff0104
7ffe5fac (+  48) 002eeea3   <libbe.so>:_SendFlattenedMessage__8BMessagePvlllx + 0x011b (nearest)
7ffe5fdc (+ 144) 002eec88   <libbe.so>:_SendMessage__C8BMessagelllP8BMessagexx + 0x01f8
7ffe606c (+  80) 0030cbc7   <libbe.so>:SendMessage__CQ28BMessage7PrivatelllP8BMessagexx + 0x0043
7ffe60bc (+  80) 002f5ea4   <libbe.so>:SendMessage__C10BMessengerP8BMessageT1xx + 0x0070
7ffe610c (+ 240) 0032c5d8   <libbe.so>:get_deskbar_frame__FP5BRect + 0x00c0
7ffe61fc (+ 144) 0060d2b4   <libtracker.so>:PlacePose__Q28BPrivate9BPoseViewPQ28BPrivate5BPoseR5BRect + 0x013c
7ffe628c (+ 192) 00608065   <libtracker.so>:CreatePoses__Q28BPrivate9BPoseViewPPQ28BPrivate5ModelPQ28BPrivate8PoseInfolPPQ28BPrivate5BPosebPlP5BRectT5 + 0x06a5
7ffe634c (+  80) 0060783e   <libtracker.so>:CreatePose__Q28BPrivate9BPoseViewPQ28BPrivate5ModelPQ28BPrivate8PoseInfobPlP5BRectT3 + 0x0056
7ffe639c (+  96) 00613e5f   <libtracker.so>:EntryCreated__Q28BPrivate9BPoseViewPC8node_refT1PCcPl + 0x018b
7ffe63fc (+ 256) 006076e1   <libtracker.so>:CreateVolumePose__Q28BPrivate9BPoseViewP7BVolumeb + 0x0111
7ffe64fc (+ 352) 00606fe6   <libtracker.so>:AddRootPoses__Q28BPrivate9BPoseViewbT1 + 0x0252
7ffe665c (+ 112) 00605f5f   <libtracker.so>:AddPoses__Q28BPrivate9BPoseViewPQ28BPrivate5Model + 0x010f
7ffe66cc (+  96) 006036a7   <libtracker.so>:InitCommon__Q28BPrivate9BPoseView + 0x0383
7ffe672c (+  64) 006032d0   <libtracker.so>:Init__Q28BPrivate9BPoseViewPQ28BPrivate19AttributeStreamNode + 0x003c
7ffe676c (+  80) 0057f832   <libtracker.so>:RestoreState__Q28BPrivate16BContainerWindow + 0x00ce
7ffe67bc (+ 224) 0057f390   <libtracker.so>:Init__Q28BPrivate16BContainerWindowPC8BMessage + 0x0920
7ffe689c (+ 128) 00592d6f   <libtracker.so>:Init__Q28BPrivate11BDeskWindowPC8BMessage + 0x0237
7ffe691c (+ 528) 00649263   <libtracker.so>:ReadyToRun__Q28BPrivate8TTracker + 0x044b
7ffe6b2c (+ 528) 002dd27d   <libbe.so>:DispatchMessage__12BApplicationP8BMessageP8BHandler + 0x0369
7ffe6d3c (+  96) 002e8831   <libbe.so>:task_looper__7BLooper + 0x0299
7ffe6d9c (+  64) 002db742   <libbe.so>:Run__12BApplication + 0x008a
7ffe6ddc (+ 416) 002009eb   <_APP_>:main + 0x002f
7ffe6f7c (+  48) 00200897   <_APP_>:_start + 0x005b
7ffe6fac (+  48) 001007be   689:runtime_loader_seg0ro@0x00100000 + 0x7be
7ffe6fdc (+   0) 7ffe6fec   674:Tracker_main_stack@0x7efe7000 + 0xffffec

Currently it is obviously waiting for a synchronous reply to a message it just sent (_user_port_buffer_size_etc() in the kernel part of the stack trace). The stack trace also shows that the thread is still in the BApplication's ReadyToRun() method and invoked BDeskWindow::Init() from there. This is at least a good reason to lock the window. So who doesn't reply to the message?

kdebug> traced 0 -10 -1 thread (tracker)
80228. [    69]   71666364: syscall pre:  _kern_set_port_owner(0x1029, 0x48)
80229. [    69]   71666387: syscall post: _kern_set_port_owner() -> 0x0
80230. [    69]   71666438: syscall pre:  _kern_get_port_info(0x1029, 0x7ffe5f18)
80231. [    69]   71666628: syscall post: _kern_get_port_info() -> 0x0
80232. [    69]   71666716: syscall pre:  _kern_ktrace_output(0x7ffe5b0c)
80233. [    69]   71666727: user: BMessage send remote: team: -1, port: 4144, token: -2, message: 'PGET'
80234. [    69]   71666754: syscall post: _kern_ktrace_output() -> 0x20
80235. [    69]   71666769: syscall pre:  _kern_write_port_etc(0x1030, 0x706a7070, 0x180ab8a0, 0x125, 0x8, 0x7fffffffffffffff)
80236. [    69]   71666863: syscall post: _kern_write_port_etc() -> 0x0
80237. [    69]   71666904: syscall pre:  _kern_port_buffer_size_etc(0x1029, 0x8, 0x7fffffffffffffff)
printed 10 entries within range 80228 to 90162 (9935 of 90162 total, 90162 ever)
kdebug> port 4144
PORT: 0x80135900
 id:              4144
 name:            "AppLooperPort"
 owner:           72
 capacity:        100
 read_sem:        2662
 write_sem:       2663
 read_sem count:  2
 write_sem count: 98
 total count:     7
kdebug> threads 72
thread         id  state        sem/cv cpu pri  stack      team  name
0x90ac1800     95  waiting        2637   -   5  0x906e5000   72  TrackerTaskLoop
0x90ad1800    101  waiting        2637   -  15  0x906fd000   72  w>Twitcher
0x909c9000     72  waiting        3275   -  10  0x90669000   72  Deskbar
0x90b06800    119  waiting        2637   -   5  0x90735000   72  Expando Window Watcher
0x90b07000    120  waiting        2637   -  15  0x90739000   72  w>Deskbar

As recorded by trace entry 80233, the message was sent to port 4144. The owner of the port is team 72, the Deskbar, and the port itself is, according to its name, the BApplication looper port. The threads listing for the Deskbar team looks suspicious. All threads save the main thread wait for the same semaphore, which belongs to...

kdebug> sem 2637
SEM: 0x99309e70
id:      2637 (0xa4d)
name:    'BLooperList lock'
owner:   72
count:   -4
queue:   120 119 101 95
last acquired by: 0, count: 0
last released by: 0, count: 0

... the BLooperList lock. The BLooperList is a list of all BLoopers of a team. It's main purpose is to allow the invocation of certain methods (Lock(), PostMessage()) on BLooper pointers that are not necessarily valid anymore. Those methods simply look up the pointer in the BLooperList before doing anything with it that might cause an invalid memory access. The list is protected by a lock, which must be held when working with the list and also can be held for a short time to ensure that no looper will be deleted during that time. The lock is an innermost lock, however, i.e. while holding it no other lock may be acquired in order to prevent potential deadlocks. Being a BLocker and thus supporting nested locking, it is also clear that none of the threads waiting for the lock is its current owner, which leaves only the Deskbar main thread. Let's see, what it is doing and why it is waiting:

kdebug> sc 72
stack trace for thread 72 "Deskbar"
    kernel stack: 0x90669000 to 0x9066d000
      user stack: 0x7efe7000 to 0x7ffe7000
frame            caller     <image>:function + offset
9066ce48 (+  32) 8002d352   <kernel>:context_switch__FP6threadT0 + 0x0026
9066ce68 (+  64) 8002d5e6   <kernel>:scheduler_reschedule + 0x0272
9066cea8 (+  96) 8002ea5d   <kernel>:switch_sem_etc + 0x039d
9066cf08 (+  64) 8002f303   <kernel>:_user_acquire_sem_etc + 0x0027
9066cf48 (+  96) 80091a13   <kernel>:x86_sysenter + 0x00ef (nearest)
iframe at 0x9066cfa8 (end = 0x9066d000)
 eax 0xc            ebx 0x7af048        ecx 0x7ffe66e0   edx 0xffff0104
 esi 0xffffffff     edi 0x7fffffff      ebp 0x7ffe671c   esp 0x9066cfdc
 eip 0xffff0104  eflags 0x203
 vector: 0x63, error code: 0x0
9066cfa8 (+   0) ffff0104
7ffe671c (+  64) 00477bdc   <libbe.so>:AcquireLock__7BLockerxPl + 0x0064
7ffe675c (+  48) 004779b3   <libbe.so>:Lock__7BLocker + 0x002f
7ffe678c (+  48) 003546bd   <libbe.so>:__9BAutolockR7BLocker + 0x002d
7ffe67bc (+  64) 0033ce30   <libbe.so>:AddMessage__13BMessageQueueP8BMessage + 0x0034
7ffe67fc (+  48) 0032af20   <libbe.so>:AddMessage__Q28BPrivate20BDirectMessageTargetP8BMessage + 0x0060
7ffe682c (+ 144) 00337911   <libbe.so>:_SendMessage__C8BMessagelllxbR10BMessenger + 0x0319
7ffe68bc (+  64) 00355b70   <libbe.so>:SendMessage__CQ28BMessage7PrivatelllxbR10BMessenger + 0x0040
7ffe68fc (+  64) 0033ed01   <libbe.so>:SendMessage__C10BMessengerP8BMessageG10BMessengerx + 0x0069
7ffe693c (+ 112) 0033ec19   <libbe.so>:SendMessage__C10BMessengerP8BMessageP8BHandlerx + 0x0071
7ffe69ac (+  96) 00330ba3   <libbe.so>:_PostMessage__7BLooperP8BMessageP8BHandlerT2 + 0x010f
7ffe6a0c (+  48) 0032f67c   <libbe.so>:PostMessage__7BLooperP8BMessage + 0x0024
7ffe6a3c (+ 176) 0021c417   <_APP_>:MessageReceived__7TBarAppP8BMessage + 0x021b
7ffe6aec (+  48) 0032f808   <libbe.so>:DispatchMessage__7BLooperP8BMessageP8BHandler + 0x0074
7ffe6b1c (+ 528) 003263f8   <libbe.so>:DispatchMessage__12BApplicationP8BMessageP8BHandler + 0x04e4
7ffe6d2c (+  96) 00331831   <libbe.so>:task_looper__7BLooper + 0x0299
7ffe6d8c (+  64) 00324742   <libbe.so>:Run__12BApplication + 0x008a
7ffe6dcc (+ 432) 0021aeff   <_APP_>:main + 0x002f
7ffe6f7c (+  48) 0021adab   <_APP_>:_start + 0x005b
7ffe6fac (+  48) 001007be   727:runtime_loader_seg0ro@0x00100000 + 0x7be
7ffe6fdc (+   0) 7ffe6fec   723:Deskbar_main_stack@0x7efe7000 + 0xffffec
kdebug> traced 0 -10 -1 thread 72
64131. [    72]   63166139: syscall pre:  _kern_port_count(0x1030)
64132. [    72]   63166161: syscall post: _kern_port_count() -> 0x0
64133. [    72]   63166217: syscall pre:  _kern_acquire_sem_etc(0xa65, 0x1, 0x8, 0x7fffffffffffffff)
64134. [    72]   63166234: syscall post: _kern_acquire_sem_etc() -> 0x0
64135. [    72]   63166506: syscall pre:  _kern_get_port_info(0x2051, 0x7ffe67f8)
64136. [    72]   63166539: syscall post: _kern_get_port_info() -> 0x0
64137. [    72]   63166651: syscall pre:  _kern_ktrace_output(0x7ffe63ec)
64138. [    72]   63166666: user: BMessage send direct: port: 16474, token: 12, message: 'exst'
64139. [    72]   63166690: syscall post: _kern_ktrace_output() -> 0x20
64140. [    72]   63166723: syscall pre:  _kern_acquire_sem_etc(0xccb, 0x1, 0x8, 0x7fffffffffffffff)
printed 10 entries within range 64131 to 90162 (26032 of 90162 total, 90162 ever)
kdebug> port 16474
PORT: 0x801360e0
 id:              16474
 name:            "Deskbar"
 owner:           72
 capacity:        100
 read_sem:        3277
 write_sem:       3278
 read_sem count:  26
 write_sem count: 74
 total count:     23
kdebug> sem 3275
SEM: 0x99311610
id:      3275 (0xccb)
name:    'BMessageQueue Lock'
owner:   72
count:   -1
queue:   72
last acquired by: 0, count: 0
last released by: 0, count: 0

According to the stack trace the thread is trying to send a message. traced tells us that it is a "direct" (i.e. intra-application) message to port 16474, which belongs to the "Deskbar" window. Intra-app messages are not really sent to a port, though. Instead they are directly added to the target's message queue. The semaphore the thread is waiting for belongs to that BMessageQueue. First of all, looking through the source code of the functions listed in the stack trace, reveals where the BLooperList lock is being held although it shouldn't:

BLooper::_PostMessage(BMessage *msg, BHandler *handler,
    BHandler *replyTo)
    AutoLocker<BLooperList> listLocker(gLooperList);
    if (!listLocker.IsLocked())
        return B_ERROR;

    if (!gLooperList.IsLooperValid(this))
        return B_BAD_VALUE;

    // Does handler belong to this looper?
    if (handler && handler->Looper() != this)
        return B_MISMATCHED_VALUES;

    status_t status;
    BMessenger messenger(handler, this, &status);
    if (status == B_OK)
        status = messenger.SendMessage(msg, replyTo, 0);

    return status;

The lock is held until the end of the method, including the line where messenger.SendMessage() is called. This is a bug -- the lock must be released after the construction of the BMessenger at the latest.

This is only one problem, though. Just as the BLooperList lock a BMessageQueue lock should not be held while trying to acquire another lock. That is the main thread should not block on such a lock for a long time, since the owner should release it eventually. Aside from direct message deliveries, the message queue is normally only used within the looper it belongs to. So it's likely that in this case the window thread is holding it although it ought not to:

kdebug> sc 120
stack trace for thread 120 "w>Deskbar"
    kernel stack: 0x90739000 to 0x9073d000
      user stack: 0x700c3000 to 0x70103000
frame            caller     <image>:function + offset
9073ce48 (+  32) 8002d352   <kernel>:context_switch__FP6threadT0 + 0x0026
9073ce68 (+  64) 8002d5e6   <kernel>:scheduler_reschedule + 0x0272
9073cea8 (+  96) 8002ea5d   <kernel>:switch_sem_etc + 0x039d
9073cf08 (+  64) 8002f303   <kernel>:_user_acquire_sem_etc + 0x0027
9073cf48 (+  96) 80091a13   <kernel>:x86_sysenter + 0x00ef (nearest)
iframe at 0x9073cfa8 (end = 0x9073d000)
 eax 0xc            ebx 0x7af048        ecx 0x701024d0   edx 0xffff0104
 esi 0xffffffff     edi 0x7fffffff      ebp 0x7010250c   esp 0x9073cfdc
 eip 0xffff0104  eflags 0x207
 vector: 0x63, error code: 0x0
9073cfa8 (+   0) ffff0104
7010250c (+  64) 00477bdc   <libbe.so>:AcquireLock__7BLockerxPl + 0x0064
7010254c (+  48) 004779b3   <libbe.so>:Lock__7BLocker + 0x002f
7010257c (+  48) 003322d0   <libbe.so>:Lock__Q28BPrivate11BLooperList + 0x0020
701025ac (+  48) 0034c21c   <libbe.so>:Lock__Q28BPrivatet25AutoLockerStandardLocking1ZQ28BPrivate11BLooperListPQ28BPrivate11BLooperList + 0x0024
701025dc (+  48) 0034c0c1   <libbe.so>:Lock__Q28BPrivatet10AutoLocker2ZQ28BPrivate11BLooperListZQ28BPrivatet25AutoLockerStandardLocking1ZQ28BPrivate11BLooperList + 0x0031
7010260c (+  48) 0034bef4   <libbe.so>:__Q28BPrivatet10AutoLocker2ZQ28BPrivate11BLooperListZQ28BPrivatet25AutoLockerStandardLocking1ZQ28BPrivate11BLooperListRQ28BPrivate11BLooperListbT2 + 0x0044
7010263c (+  64) 00330d24   <libbe.so>:_Lock__7BLooperP7BLooperlx + 0x005c
7010267c (+  48) 0032fe81   <libbe.so>:Lock__7BLooper + 0x002d
701026ac (+  48) 004009bc   <libbe.so>:Flush__C7BWindow + 0x0020
701026dc (+  48) 003f3ee1   <libbe.so>:Flush__C5BView + 0x0029
7010270c (+ 112) 003fdda0   <libbe.so>:_Draw__5BViewG5BRect + 0x011c
7010277c (+ 736) 004033e9   <libbe.so>:DispatchMessage__7BWindowP8BMessageP8BHandler + 0x1cb9
70102a5c (+  64) 00404a29   <libbe.so>:UpdateIfNeeded__7BWindow + 0x00f9
70102a9c (+ 112) 00229cee   <_APP_>:AddTeam__15TExpandoMenuBarP5BListP7BBitmapPcT3 + 0x032a
70102b0c (+ 160) 00228f3d   <_APP_>:MessageReceived__15TExpandoMenuBarP8BMessage + 0x0195
70102bac (+  48) 0032f808   <libbe.so>:DispatchMessage__7BLooperP8BMessageP8BHandler + 0x0074
70102bdc (+ 736) 004037c0   <libbe.so>:DispatchMessage__7BWindowP8BMessageP8BHandler + 0x2090
70102ebc (+  48) 002220ec   <_APP_>:DispatchMessage__10TBarWindowP8BMessageP8BHandler + 0x0054
70102eec (+ 128) 00407a66   <libbe.so>:task_looper__7BWindow + 0x0326
70102f6c (+  64) 003312cb   <libbe.so>:_task0___7BLooperPv + 0x0053
70102fac (+  48) 00732264   <libroot.so>:_get_next_team_info + 0x005c (nearest)
70102fdc (+   0) 70102fec   1156:w>Deskbar_120_stack@0x700c3000 + 0x3ffec

After browsing through the source code of the functions listed in the stack trace, the erroneous code appears to be in BWindow::UpdateIfNeeded():

    BMessageQueue *queue = MessageQueue();

    // First process and remove any _UPDATE_ message in the queue
    // With the current design, there can only be one at a time

    BMessage *msg;
    for (int32 i = 0; (msg = queue->FindMessage(i)) != NULL; i++) {
        if (msg->what == _UPDATE_) {
            BWindow::DispatchMessage(msg, this);
                // we need to make sure that no overridden method is called
                // here; for BWindow::DispatchMessage() we now exactly what
                // will happen
            delete msg;
                // NOTE: "i" would have to be decreased if there were
                // multiple _UPDATE_ messages and we would not break!


BWindow::DispatchMessage() is invoked while holding the message queue lock. DispatchMessage() calls various functions, including BView::Draw() which can be overridden by application developers. So, although the comment in UpateIfNeeded() suggests that calling DispatchMessage() is OK, it definitely is not.

To sum up our findings: Tracker hangs because it's still in its initialization phase and waits forever for a reply message from the Deskbar. The Deskbar in turn has run into a standard deadlock with the BLooperList lock and the deskbar window's message queue lock involved. Main and window thread mutually wait for the lock the respective other thread holds.


Haiku's kernel debugger is a powerful tool whose usefulness does not end in the kernel domain. It can also help with certain userland problems, that would otherwise be tricky to tackle. This document gave an introduction to the basic features of the kernel debugger, its most commonly used commands, and the kernel tracing mechanism. It concluded with a documented debug session showing how to apply the previously presented information to track down a bug in practice.

I hope after reading this document, Haiku developers feel encouraged to also consider whether using the kernel debugger could lead them quicker to a solution when they face a problem in Haiku. Particularly keeping the inexpensive kernel tracing enabled at all times might provide helpful information right when it's needed.


Re: Welcome to Kernel Debugging Land...

Ingo, once again you have shown us that you are an amazing asset to the Haiku community. This is an excellent article - a pleasure to read. Well done, and drinks on me :)

Re: Welcome to Kernel Debugging Land...

Thanks for the article Ingo, I was excited to read about the additional Kernel debug functions but never quite knew how to use them. Your guide to the important commands was very clear. I lost some of the logic you used to interpret the output in the example debug session but I can see how all the information you needed was available through KDL. Neat.

Now if I see a problem in Haiku I might be tempted to do more than just F12->"reboot"!

Re: Welcome to Kernel Debugging Land...

Terrific article...thanks so much for it! You're very good at documentation, Ingo.

Re: Welcome to Kernel Debugging Land...

Excellent article, very very useful, thanks!

KDL key updated

the <F12> key have been replaced.
Now, if you want to enter the kernel debugger, you have to press <alt> + <SysReq> + <d> (in this order).

Re: KDL key updated

Good point :)

Also, PS2 is no longer mandatory as USB is also supported, but I think it's limited to UHCI-based controllers