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NOTE: kgdb is not merged upstream yet. It will likely be merged into linux-5.2.


Required configuration to use KGDB/KDB for kernel debugging

Make sure your .config contains:


If you want to be able to use KDB (a KGDB frontend running on the console):


To enable kdb/kgdb, you need to pass the device you want to use to kgdb, either via sysfs file or palo. My palo configuration looks like this:

0/vmlinuz HOME=/ root=/dev/sda5 panic_timeout=60 panic=10 console=ttyS0,115200 kgdboc=ttyS0,115200
 0: 0/vmlinuz
 1: HOME=/
 2: root=/dev/sda5
 3: panic_timeout=60
 4: panic=10
 5: console=ttyS0,115200
 6: kgdboc=ttyS0,115200

<#>    edit the numbered field
'b'    boot with this command line
'r'    restore command line
'l'    list dir
'x'    reset and reboot machine
? 0

If you want to enable kgdb via sysfs, do

echo ttyS0,115200 >/sys/module/kgdboc/parameters/kgdboc

Most of the PA-RISC machines have at least two serial ports, so you could also use ttyS1. In my examples i'm using ttyS0, which is also the console port.

Entering kdb

There are several ways to enter kgdb:

  • echo g >/proc/sysrq-trigger
  • sending a break g on the serial console, with minicom that is Ctrl-A f g
  • It will also show up on a kernel crash, as long as there's no panic command line option used

When entered, kdb will look like this:

Entering kdb (current=0xefcccdb0, pid 0) on processor 1 due to Keyboard Entry

The [1] before the kdb prompt is the processor number kdb is currently on.


help shows you the command list:

[1]kdb> help
Command         Usage                Description
md              <vaddr>             Display Memory Contents, also mdWcN, e.g. md8c1
mdr             <vaddr> <bytes>     Display Raw Memory
mdp             <paddr> <bytes>     Display Physical Memory
mds             <vaddr>             Display Memory Symbolically
mm              <vaddr> <contents>  Modify Memory Contents
go              [<vaddr>]           Continue Execution
rd                                  Display Registers
rm              <reg> <contents>    Modify Registers
ef              <vaddr>             Display exception frame
bt              [<vaddr>]           Stack traceback
btp             <pid>               Display stack for process <pid>
bta             [D|R|S|T|C|Z|E|U|I|M|A]
                                   Backtrace all processes matching state flag
btc                                 Backtrace current process on each cpu
btt             <vaddr>             Backtrace process given its struct task address
env                                 Show environment variables
set                                 Set environment variables
help                                Display Help Message
?                                   Display Help Message
cpu             <cpunum>            Switch to new cpu
kgdb                                Enter kgdb mode
ps              [<flags>|A]         Display active task list
pid             <pidnum>            Switch to another task
reboot                              Reboot the machine immediately
lsmod                               List loaded kernel modules
sr              <key>               Magic SysRq key
dmesg           [lines]             Display syslog buffer
defcmd          name "usage" "help" Define a set of commands, down to endefcmd
kill            <-signal> <pid>     Send a signal to a process
summary                             Summarize the system
per_cpu         <sym> [<bytes>] [<cpu>]
                                   Display per_cpu variables
grephelp                            Display help on | grep
bp              [<vaddr>]           Set/Display breakpoints
bl              [<vaddr>]           Display breakpoints
bc              <bpnum>             Clear Breakpoint
be              <bpnum>             Enable Breakpoint
bd              <bpnum>             Disable Breakpoint
ss                                  Single Step
dumpcommon                          Common kdb debugging
dumpall                             First line debugging 
dumpcpu                             Same as dumpall but only tasks on cpus
ftdump          [skip_#lines] [cpu] Dump ftrace log

To exit kdb, just type go:

[1]kdb> go


The system will resume execution where it was stopped by kdb.

Using breakpoints

To set a breakpoint, use the bp command:

# enter kdb when kernel calls do_sys_open, which is the open(2) syscall
[1]kgdb> bp do_sys_open 
Instruction(i) BP #0 at 0x103478b8 (do_sys_open)
   is enabled   addr at 00000000103478b8, hardtype=0 installed=0
[1]kgdb> go

root@c3750:~# cat /proc/version

Entering kdb (current=0xed071530, pid 1630) on processor 0 due to Breakpoint @ 0x103478b8

You can now do things like inspecting registers:

[0]kdb> rd
CPU: 0 PID: 1630 Comm: cat Not tainted 5.1.0-rc3+ #547
Hardware name: 9000/785/J5000

PSW: 00000000000001001111111100001111 Not tainted
r00-03  0004ff0f ffffffff 102e5570 ef1d40c0
r04-07  f8b2015c 00000000 f8b214e8 00000001
r08-11  f8b214e8 f8b214f0 f8b1da70 f8b1da70
r12-15  00000001 00000000 00000000 00000001
r16-19  0000000a f8b21648 00000000 102e5558
r20-23  00000113 00000000 00000000 00000000
r24-27  00200800 f8b1aa54 ffffff9c 10b43ce0
r28-31  f9804558 f98043c8 ef1d4100 f8b1446b
sr00-03  00000a6b 00000000 00000000 00000a6b
sr04-07  00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000

IASQ: 00000000 00000000 IAOQ: 102e52fc 102e5300
 IIR: 03ffa01f    ISR: 1024037c  IOR: 751d40c0
 CPU:        0   CR30: ef1d4000 CR31: ffffffff
 ORIG_R28: 0000000f
 IAOQ[0]: do_sys_open+0x0/0x228
 IAOQ[1]: do_sys_open+0x4/0x228
 RP(r2): sys_openat+0x18/0x28
 [<102e5570>] sys_openat+0x18/0x28
 [<1016c3d4>] syscall_exit+0x0/0x14


If you want to list all breakpoints, do:

[1]kdb> bl
Instruction(i) BP #0 at 0x103478b8 (do_sys_open)
    is enabled   addr at 00000000103478b8, hardtype=0 installed=0

To clear a breakpoint:

[1]kdb> bc 0
Breakpoint 0 at 0x103478b8 cleared

Connection with gdb

$ hppa-linux-gnu-gdb ./vmlinux 
GNU gdb (GDB)
Copyright (C) 2019 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <>
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.
Type "show copying" and "show warranty" for details.
This GDB was configured as "--host=x86_64-pc-linux-gnu --target=hppa-linux-gnu".
Type "show configuration" for configuration details.
For bug reporting instructions, please see:
Find the GDB manual and other documentation resources online at:

For help, type "help".
Type "apropos word" to search for commands related to "word"...
Reading symbols from ./vmlinux...
(gdb) target remote /dev/ttyUSB0
Remote debugging using /dev/ttyUSB0
arch_kgdb_breakpoint () at kernel/debug/debug_core.c:1135
1135		arch_kgdb_breakpoint();
(gdb) bt
#0  arch_kgdb_breakpoint () at kernel/debug/debug_core.c:1135
#1  kgdb_breakpoint () at kernel/debug/debug_core.c:1135
Backtrace stopped: previous frame identical to this frame (corrupt stack?)
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