Home > FreeBSD > So You Want A FreeBSD Debugging Kernel…

So You Want A FreeBSD Debugging Kernel…

September 25, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Installing a debugging kernel in FreeBSD

The Use Case

There are numerous reasons for needing a debugging kernel. For example, during a kernel panic. This was the case with us. Therefore, we installed a kernel with DDB enabled. In the event of a kernel panic, the system would drop to the debugger and the software engineers were then able to begin diagnosing the problem.

Preparing To Build The Kernel


FreeBSD Sources

Operators can use cvs or Subversion to install the sources. Information on FreeBSD source trees can be found here.

The Kernel Config

Create a kernel config by opening /usr/src/sys/${arch}/conf/DEBUG. Where ${arch} is the machine architecture the kernel is to be built for. In this case, we build an amd64 kernel on an amd64 machine. The kernel config should appear as follows:

include GENERIC
options DDB

Compiling and Installing The Kernel

Compiling and installing the debugging kernel is as simple as executing:

# cd /usr/src

Executing/Using The Kernel

From the loader menu

At the loader menu, press 6 to escape to the loader(8) prompt and type:

boot DEBUG

From the running system

The DEBUG kernel can be loaded by default by adding/modifying the kernel directive in loader.conf as follows. Each subsequent boot will load the DEBUG kernel.


Dropping into the debugger

During a kernel panic, it will simply reboot unless debug.debugger_on_panic is enabled. To enable this execute:

sysctl debug.debugger_on_panic=1

To induce a panic:

sysctl debug.kdb.panic=1

Categories: FreeBSD
  1. Osvaldo Bugarin
    October 5, 2012 at 8:04 AM

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