In the last two GDB tutorials, we looked at user-defined functions, both in the GDB command-line and in Python.
In this GDB article, we look at defining hooks, a handy variant of a user-defined GDB command. Again, we’ll do both in the command-line and Python.
Let's start your program the usual way.
Hooks in the GDB command-line
In the command-line, we specify a user-defined command just like before, but only this time we start it with
hook- (hook dash).
(gdb) define hook-next
>echo HERE COMES A NEXT
Whatever comes after the dash is the command that we hook. In the example above, every time we do a
next, it prints “HERE COMES A NEXT” before the command runs.
We can do a post-hook with a
hookpost to do something after the command happens.
(gdb) define hookpost-next
>echo DONE THE NEXT
There's a pseudo command that we can hook called
stop. That's a very useful command because every time the inferior stops we go back to the GDB-prompt, and we can run something.
For example, let's go to a
bt each time we step into the program.
The advantage of using GDB command
hook in the command-line is that you can do them very quick and dirty. And it is pretty easy to remember syntax too, which is nice. But if you want to do something a bit more meaningful and want to check it into source control, you probably want to do that in Python.
Let's see how we do that.
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GDB hooks in Python
The equivalent of
stop in a way is that we can hook the prompt. Again, it's a simple syntax. The only thing we need is a function.
$ vim stop.py
print("BEFORE THE PROMPT")
Note that the syntax is
If we now
source stop.py, then it prints the text “BEFORE THE PROMPT” as we do expect it before every prompt.
There are a whole bunch of other events though that we can hook to.
For example, let's do the equivalent of the
stop we were just doing in the command-line, but this time in Python.
before_prompt command, other commands expect an event-argument which you can look up to tell why the program stopped.
Notice that it will reconnect every time we run this; you can connect functions multiple times.
(gdb) source stop.py
We hit an event. It is an inferior thread which has a breakpoint associated with it. So, we can see this breakpoint number two.
If we disable breakpoints and continue to the end of the program, then we reach a different kind of stop. We hit an abort, and we can see that we were stopped due to a
There are many events that a program can stop on. You can stop at an
exited event, just when the program exits. You can have a
cont event, which you can hook before the program starts. You can have
register_change events or even breakpoint events such as
Where to go for more information?
You can look up an extensive list of events that are available in GDB in the info page in the usual way. How to do that again?
$ info gdb
Though, the trouble with these info pages is that you need to know what to look for.
Let's search for “events in python”. This gives you a whole chapter of all the things we just went through in this GDB tutorial, including all the different events; pretty extensive, pretty powerful.
I hope you do recognise how you might do a lot of cool stuff with that.
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Good luck debugging.