Process Record and Replay

Process record and replay is a gdb feature first appearing in the gdb 7.0 release (September 2009).

For supported architectures and OS/ABIs, this feature allows the user to record the execution of a program being debugged by gdb, and then "play back" the recorded execution, deterministicly and repeatedly if desired.

Process record and replay also supports gdb's reverse debugging commands, so that during replay it is possible to debug the program backward as well as forward.

GDB Reverse Debug and Process Record Target.pdf is a slide that show the internals of process record.

Process record and replay now has a tutorial.

Supported Targets

Process record and replay is currently supported for the following gdb targets:

How it works

Process record and replay works by logging the execution of each machine instruction in the child process (the program being debugged), together with each corresponding change in machine state (the values of memory and registers). By successively "undoing" each change in machine state, in reverse order, it is possible to revert the state of the program to an arbitrary point earlier in the execution. Then, by "redoing" the changes in the original order, the program state can be moved forward again.

User commands

The following gdb commands are defined for process record / replay:

Start process record/replay (ie. start recording the subsequent execution of the child process). You must start debugging the program (with the "run" command) before using this command to start recording. You can start recording at any point after the child process has been started (eg. at a breakpoint).

Stop process record/replay (ie. cease recording the program execution), and discard any existing execution log. The child process is not terminated, and you may continue to debug it normally.

Discard the existing execution log, and begin recording a new log.

Set the maximum number of instruction executions that will be recorded (ie. the size of the process record log buffer). Zero means unlimited. Default is 200,000.

Controls the behavior when the buffer becomes full. If "on", gdb will stop and ask the user what to do. If "off", the buffer acts as a circular buffer, deleting the oldest records to make room for new ones. Default is "on".

Show various statistics about the state of process record and its in-memory execution log buffer.

Testing

To run the gdb reverse-debugging tests with process record and replay, you need a board description file "precord.exp", which should look like this:

# Testing programs using process record/replay (precord)
load_base_board_description "unix"
set_board_info gdb,can_reverse 1
set_board_info gdb,use_precord 1

Then the "make check" command will look like this:

make check RUNTESTFLAGS="--target_board precord (test file or files)"

For example: make check RUNTESTFLAGS="--target_board=precord break-reverse.exp consecutive-reverse.exp"

At the time of this writing, the reverse debugging tests include:

Patch list

Name

Url

Auther

Status

Comment

Doing

i386.record.floating.point.patch

http://sourceware.org/ml/gdb-patches/2009-07/msg00156.html

Paawan Oza

Waiting check-in

Oza is waiting license paper

prec-fix-error-handler

http://sourceware.org/ml/gdb-patches/2009-11/msg00038.html

Hui Zhu

RFA RFC

Check Linux sys_brk release memory in process record and replay

http://sourceware.org/ml/gdb-patches/2009-05/msg00078.html

Hui Zhu

RFA RFC

This patch will make linux-record can check if the sys_brk will release the memory or not. If memory will be released, gdb will query to user.

Process record skip

http://sourceware.org/ml/gdb-patches/2009-08/msg00302.html http://sourceware.org/ml/gdb-patches/2009-08/msg00303.html http://sourceware.org/ml/gdb-patches/2009-08/msg00304.html http://sourceware.org/ml/gdb-patches/2009-08/msg00305.html http://sourceware.org/ml/gdb-patches/2009-08/msg00306.html http://sourceware.org/ml/gdb-patches/2009-08/msg00307.html http://sourceware.org/ml/gdb-patches/2009-08/msg00308.html

Hui Zhu

RFA RFC

It let prec record some functions of inferior as one instruction (record the memory and reg that will be change in this function).

i386 Rewrite the codes for opcode 0x0f01 and add more instructions support

http://sourceware.org/ml/gdb-patches/2009-10/msg00209.html

Jiang Jilin

RFC

Jilin is waiting license paper

Save CS segment register for ljmp instruction

http://sourceware.org/ml/gdb-patches/2009-10/msg00224.html

Jiang Jilin

RFC

Need a testsuite

replay bookmarks

http://sourceware.org/ml/gdb-patches/2009-11/msg00008.html

Michael Snyder

RFA RFC

Fix hw watchpoints in process record

http://sourceware.org/ml/gdb-patches/2009-11/msg00000.html

Michael Snyder

RFA RFC

It need patch after patch replay bookmarks

multi-thread support

http://sourceware.org/ml/gdb-patches/2009-11/msg00027.html

Hui Zhu

RFC

Done

To Do List

See the more extensive WishList here.

See the old to do list (it include some links of patch) here.

  1. Improve support for intel architectures. There is a patch awaiting approval that will add

support for the basic floating point instructions. We would like to also add support for the more modern math coprocessors (mmx etc.)

  1. Add support for more processor architectures (mips, arm etc.)
  2. Add support for more os/abis (currently only linux is supported).
  3. Improve support for memory free (sys_brk).
  4. Improve support for multi-thread and multi-process record/replay.
  5. Improve performance (speed and memory usage).
  6. Save execution log to a file, and restore it later for replay.
  7. Add more test cases to the testsuite.
  8. Improve documentation. The following is a quote from Eli Zaretskii, the gdb docs maintainer:

What I think is still missing from the manual is a few sentences that would explain when this target is useful. Can you provide such warstories? I will then add them to the manual. No, I mean description of when this target is useful in real life, and how you will use it. In other words, put yourself in a place of someone who reads the manual about the record/replay target and asks him/herself "why should I care about this new feature?" Then try to answer that question. And try to answer it so that the reader will wonder how could she ever get by without this feature before.

There is a contribution from Marc Khouzam at http://sourceware.org/ml/gdb-patches/2009-05/msg00058.html.


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