Android gdbclient command

Before you even start building Android, Google’s instructions tell you to source the build/ shell script.

This script exports a number of environment variables (that’s why you have to source it), mostly setting the PATH to your different toolchains and to your output directories.

It also defines a number of shell functions. Among them some functions are advertised, like the well-know lunch, that is used to configure to some extent the build system, or the grepping functions, but some are not, like pid, which uses adb to get the PID of a process running on the device.

Among the latter, one seems pretty useful: gdbclient. What gdbclient does is obviously gdb related but in fact it does more than that.

First, you run it by doing gdbclient <binary>:<port> <process_name>

Then it sets up adb with the forward command so that you use it as a transport layer to your device, while it appears as (in that case) opened TCP sockets both on your machine and on the device.

Then, it attaches a gdbserver to the process you gave as the third argument on the device.

Finally, it launches your cross-gdb on your workstation, loads the debugging symbols from the file passed as first argument, and sets up a remote debugging session. All of that through USB!

This is definitely useful, and I can’t say why Google doesn’t advertise it more, but hey, it’s there!

Author: Maxime Ripard

Maxime Ripard was an engineer at Bootlin between 2011 and 2019. More details...

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