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Re: First try of breakpoint support

Hi Wu Zhou,

On Sun, 2006-08-13 at 06:48 -0400, Wu Zhou wrote:
> By using cvs source of 07-19, and applying three patches you  
> mentioned, I had a try with the breakpoint.

Thank you.

>   It seems there are some  
> intermittent errors.  The first time I run the testcase, it reported  
> NPE on testInsertRemove,  but it succeeded in the later tries.  Please  
> see the following sessions:
> [...]
> Lookint through your words, I see that you also mentioned similar  
> problems. So how are you going on with this kind of problem?

Yes, I also had some intermittent failures. That first try depended on
the timing of the ptrace calls to be right. I have fixed that by
integrating the code with the proc and task state machines. That makes
sure that the various ptrace calls are made at the right time. This also
makes the code much faster.

> I also have some thought about general breakpoint support.
> - the kprobe like mechanism to support multi-thread breakpoint seems  
> to me a very good idea.  Some candidate for holding the original  
> instruction I can thought of are: .init section (they are not needed  
> after the program starts up), ELF header or P-headers (storing these  
> information somewhere else, so no need to look into them again), or an  
> extra dynamically loaded library (through some kinds of dynamic code  
> patching technique)

Yes, the only issue would be locking because we want the areas to be
only used by one thread at a time. Ideally we would have some per Task
section. Unfortunately we cannot use something like the per-thread-stack
since those are not executable these days. Loading an extra dynamically
loaded library is clever. But that might be pretty intrusive on the
process we monitor.

> - this kind of dynamic code patching technique might also be used for  
> fast conditional breakpoint.  To say this, I means something like  
> Dyninst (  I know it is  
> mainly used in non-interactive dynamic instrumentation.  But I am not  
> sure if it is proper to use it in interavtive debugging. Maybe there  
> are some other technique feasible to do similar thing in interactive  
> debugging.  Any idea on how to implement fast conditional breakpoints  
> in Frysk?

I hadn't seen that yet. Unfortunately it isn't Free Software and can
only be used for research purposes. But the idea to have a rich library
of dynamic instrumentation code is nice. We will most likely need
something that can generate conditional breakpoints by code patching at
some point. But for now I have kept the design as easy as possible and
just have unconditional breakpoints. There are a lot of issues to think
about when multiple threads might have different conditionals on their

> - I see that you create a new breakpoint by hardwiring to  
> LinuxIa32Breakpoint. We are thinking that breakpoint for LinuxPPC64  
> will be very similar except that we will use an illegal instruction  
> opcode, which will trigger a SIGTRAP as well. The later work flow is  
> the same, frysk.sys.Wait will detect this when inspecting the wait  
> status, and handleTrappedEvent will be called.  Is our understanding  
> correct?  Any thing we need to keep in mind when adding LinuxPPC64  
> support for this?  And we will appreciate it very much if you can  
> share your latest workable code with us.

I'll post the rewritten code asap. I redesigned the state machine part 3
times now and I am still not completely satisfied, but having the code
out means more feedback.  I made the Breakpoint class even simpler,
ignoring any possible optimizations for now. That should make it even
simpler to get it up and running on another architecture quickly. The
things to consider with this simple approach are 'branch-delay-slots' if
your processor has those. In that case the simple, set/reset
trapping-instruction doesn't work if the target is a branch instruction
since then an instruction from the branch delay slot just after the
branch might be executed before the breakpoint is hit.

> - Hardware watchpoint hit will also delieve SIGTRAP, then watchpoint  
> might also share some work flow with breakpoint.  Do you have some  
> consideration in this aspect?

There doesn't seem to be a way to set those through something like
ptrace. So we would need kernel support for that since they can normally
only be set when running in kernel-privilege mode. But I haven't looked
into this yet. If we can support them they shouldn't work to differently
from how they work now by patching and resetting the original code with
trapping instructions. It would certainly be a faster.

> - I remember you (or some one else) mentioned that system call tracing  
> can't co-exist with single step.  I don't have any knowledge about  
> this before.  Any reason for this?  Is there any testcase to confirm  
> this?  What about inserting a breakpoint in the next instruction  
> following system call to simulate stepping over system call?

There are 2 issues. The first is that the state machine support isn't
integrated yet. Breakpoints and syscall tracing are similar, but
different enough to make it non-trivial to use the same setup. The
second is as you mention, single-stepping over a syscall instruction and
interacting correctly with ptrace is a bit tricky. The other solution
for the problem you mention above is to turn on syscall tracing whenever
you set a breakpoint on a system call instruction. Both generate a
SIGTRAP when ptrace is used. You can then just have a flag or a table
that tells you how to interpret it (as syscall enter/leave or breakpoint
or both). I haven't looked at how utrace can be used here.

I don't have testcases yet. Those should indeed be written asap.



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