Clear Linux* OS introduces a novel approach to system software debugging using clr-debug-info. On the client side, the Clear Linux OS debug system obtains any necessary debug information on-the-fly over a network during a debugging session. On the server side, the system curates and compresses debug information into small pieces for efficient downloading.

For developers, this avoids the interruption during debugging that usually happens when debug information is missing. This can be especially useful on systems where storage is limited.

Background

Software that is compiled and packaged for general usage in an operating system typically only contains components that are used to execute the program, such as binaries and libraries. Extra developer data, such as the actual source code and symbol information, are separated and excluded for efficiency.

The debug information helps relate binary code to human readable source code lines and variables. Most of the time, this auxiliary information is not needed; however without it, debugging a program results in limited visibility.

Usage

The clr-debug-info system is integrated into Clear Linux OS and seamlessly engages once installed.

  1. Install the dev-utils bundle.

    sudo swupd bundle-add dev-utils
    

    Note

    The telemetrics and performance-tools bundles also include clr-debug-info.

  2. Start a debugging session against a program using a debugger, such as GDB. For example, to debug gnome-control-center execute the following command:

    gdb /usr/bin/gnome-control-center
    

As you step through the program and debug information is needed, the clr_debug_daemon obtains it in the background.

Implementation

The implementation of the Clear Linux OS debug system is open source and available on GitHub at: https://github.com/clearlinux/clr-debug-info/

Debug system communication flow

Figure 1: The communication flow of the Clear Linux OS debug system

The Clear Linux OS debug system implements a FUSE filesystem mounted at /usr/lib/debug and /usr/src/debug. The FUSE filesystem starts automatically. You can verify its status by executing systemctl status clr_debug_fuse.service.

The clr_debug_daemon is responsible for fetching the appropriate package debug content from the server and making it available for any debugging programs that need it. It is socket activated whenever a request to the local FUSE filesystem occurs. You can verify its status with systemctl status clr_debug_daemon.service.

Clear Linux OS hosts debuginfo content packaged for consumption by Clear Linux OS debug clients at https://download.clearlinux.org/debuginfo/