Best approach for supporting snapshots for QEMU's gdbstub?

Pavel Dovgalyuk
Sat May 15 06:12:08 GMT 2021

On 14.05.2021 19:06, Alex Bennée wrote:
> Hi,
> I've been playing around with QEMU's reverse debugging support which
> I have working with Pavel's latest patches for supporting virtio with
> record/replay. Once you get the right command line it works well enough
> although currently each step backwards requires replaying the entire
> execution history until you get to the right point.
> QEMU can quite easily snapshot the entire VM state so I was looking to
> see what the best way to integrate this would be. As far as I can tell
> there are two interfaces gdb supports: bookmarks and checkpoints.
> As far as I can tell bookmarks where added as part of GDB's reverse
> debugging support but attempting to use them from the gdbstub reports:
>    (gdb) bookmark
>    You can't do that when your target is `remote'
> so I guess that would need an extension to the stub protocol to support?
> The other option I found was checkpoints which seem to predate support
> for reverse debugging. However:
>    (gdb) checkpoint
>    checkpoint: can't find fork function in inferior.
> I couldn't tell what feature needs to be negotiated but I suspect it's
> something like fork-events if the checkpoint mechanism is designed for
> user space with a fork/freeze approach.
> We could of course just add a custom monitor command like the
> qemu.sstep= command which could be used manually. However that would be
> a QEMU gdbstub specific approach.

For now you can just use 'monitor savevm sn1' in gdb.
But something like 'bookmark' seems more convenient.

> The other thing would be to be more intelligent on QEMU's side and save
> snapshots each time we hit an event, for example each time we hit a
> given breakpoint. However I do worry that might lead to snapshots
> growing quite quickly.
> Any thoughts/suggestions?

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