When an application is build, it often has to be debugged. This section describes the peculiarities of debugging.


The debugger class is the main piece of the debugger. This is created for a specific architecture and is given a driver to communicate with the target hardware.

class ppci.binutils.dbg.Debugger(arch, driver)

Main interface to the debugger. Give it a target architecture for which it must debug and driver plugin to connect to hardware.

clear_breakpoint(filename, row)

Remove a breakpoint

read_mem(address, size)

Read binary data from memory location


Run the program

set_breakpoint(filename, row)

Set a breakpoint


Single step the debugged program


Interrupt the currently running program

write_mem(address, data)

Write binary data to memory location

One of the classes that uses the debugger is the debug command line interface.

class ppci.binutils.dbg_cli.DebugCli(debugger, showsource=False)

Implement a console-based debugger interface.

To connect to your favorite hardware, subclass the DebugDriver class.

class ppci.binutils.dbg.DebugDriver

Inherit this class to expose a target interface. This class implements primitives for a given hardware target.

The following class can be used to connect to a gdb server:

class ppci.binutils.dbg_gdb_client.GdbDebugDriver(arch, transport, constat=0, pcresval=0, swbrkpt=False)

Implement debugging via the GDB remote interface.

GDB servers can communicate via the RSP protocol.

Helpfull resources:

Debug info file formats

Debug information is of a complex nature. Various file formats exist to store this information. This section gives a short overview of the different formats.

pdb format

This is the microsoft debug format.

Dwarf format

How a linked list is stored in dwarf format.

struct ll {
  int a;
  struct ll *next;
<1><57>: Abbrev Number: 3 (DW_TAG_base_type)
    <58>   DW_AT_byte_size   : 4
    <59>   DW_AT_encoding    : 5    (signed)
    <5a>   DW_AT_name        : int
 <1><5e>: Abbrev Number: 2 (DW_TAG_base_type)
    <5f>   DW_AT_byte_size   : 8
    <60>   DW_AT_encoding    : 5    (signed)
    <61>   DW_AT_name        : (indirect string, offset: 0x65): long int
 <1><65>: Abbrev Number: 2 (DW_TAG_base_type)
    <66>   DW_AT_byte_size   : 8
    <67>   DW_AT_encoding    : 7    (unsigned)
    <68>   DW_AT_name        : (indirect string, offset: 0xf6): sizetype
 <1><6c>: Abbrev Number: 2 (DW_TAG_base_type)
    <6d>   DW_AT_byte_size   : 1
    <6e>   DW_AT_encoding    : 6    (signed char)
    <6f>   DW_AT_name        : (indirect string, offset: 0x109): char
 <1><73>: Abbrev Number: 4 (DW_TAG_structure_type)
    <74>   DW_AT_name        : ll
    <77>   DW_AT_byte_size   : 16
    <78>   DW_AT_decl_file   : 1
    <79>   DW_AT_decl_line   : 4
    <7a>   DW_AT_sibling     : <0x95>
 <2><7e>: Abbrev Number: 5 (DW_TAG_member)
    <7f>   DW_AT_name        : a
    <81>   DW_AT_decl_file   : 1
    <82>   DW_AT_decl_line   : 5
    <83>   DW_AT_type        : <0x57>
    <87>   DW_AT_data_member_location: 0
 <2><88>: Abbrev Number: 6 (DW_TAG_member)
    <89>   DW_AT_name        : (indirect string, offset: 0xf1): next
    <8d>   DW_AT_decl_file   : 1
    <8e>   DW_AT_decl_line   : 6
    <8f>   DW_AT_type        : <0x95>
    <93>   DW_AT_data_member_location: 8
 <2><94>: Abbrev Number: 0
 <1><95>: Abbrev Number: 7 (DW_TAG_pointer_type)
    <96>   DW_AT_byte_size   : 8
    <97>   DW_AT_type        : <0x73>