Oracle Solaris Studio 12.4 Man Pages

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Updated: January 2015



dbx - source-level debugging tool


dbx  [  -a  args ] [ -B ] [ -c  cmd ] [ -C ] [ -d ] [ -e ]
     [ -f ] [ -h ] [ -Idir ] [ -k ] [ -q ] [ -Q ] [ -r ]
     [  -R  ]  [  -s startup  ]  [  -S ] [ -V ] [ -wcount ]
     [ -x exec32 ] [ execfile [ .class | .jar ]
     [ corefile | process-id ] ] [ arguments ]


Oracle Solaris Studio dbx is a utility for source-level debugging and execution of programs written in C++, ANSI C, Fortran 77, Fortran 95, and Java programming languages.

execfile is an executable file, produced by a Solaris Studio compiler with the -g option which includes debugging symbols in the execfile or its associated object files. For Java code, it can be a .class or .jar file. The symbol table contains the names of all the source files used to create the execfile (all of which may be browsed), as well as a wide range of debugging information. Debugging support is limited for parts of a program not compiled with the -g option.

Initially, symbol table information is stored piecemeal in each of the object files the compiler creates. If compilation does not create an object file, all debugging information is stored in the execfile. Distributing the debugging information in the object files allows dbx to read and load debugging information as needed, a feature known as Auto-Read. If you need to move object files from their original location, make sure that dbx knows where to find them. (See the pathmap command.) If it is not feasible to keep program .o files around, you can disable Auto-Read by compiling using the -xs option, which instructs the compiler to have the linker place all debugging information in the program executable.

If, when starting dbx, no execfile is specified, use the debug command to specify a program to be debugged.

If you know a process-id but not the execfile, you can use the - (dash) as the execfile and enter the process-id option to attach the process to dbx.

If a corefile argument is specified, you can use dbx to examine the state of the program when the core file was produced.

You can specify arguments to be passed to the program only if you specify the -r option. For a Java program, specify only arguments to be passed to the program, not arguments to be passed to the JVM[tm] software.

During startup, dbx searches for .dbxrc first in the installation directory. If .dbxrc is not found, dbx then searches for ./.dbxrc (ksh mode). If ./.dbxrc is not found, dbx prints a warning message and searches for ~/.dbxrc (dbx mode).

Runtime Checking (RTC) is a fully integrated feature of dbx using its full capabilities for setting breakpoints and examining variables. With RTC, you can detect runtime errors in an application at any stage. Additionally, you can monitor memory usage.

The -g flag provides source line number correlation in the error messages. RTC can check programs compiled with the optimization -O flag. You do not have to recompile, relink, or modify the makefile to use RTC.

For proper operation, RTC requires dynamic linking with libc and use of the standard libc functions malloc/free/realloc.

To use RTC, issue a check type-of-checking command within dbx before running the program. It is also recommended that you start dbx with the -C option for early loading of the RTC library. Alternatively, RTC can be used in Batch mode. See bcheck (1). Access checking is supported only on the SPARC hardware architecture.


Solaris Studio dbx is available on the following platforms:

  • Solaris[tm] Operating System, version 10 10/08 and version 11

  • Linux operating system:

    • Oracle Linux 5 and 6

    • RedHat Enterprise Linux 5 and 6


-a args

Load program with program arguments. Arguments should follow program name.


Suppress all messages; return with exit code of program being debugged.

-c cmd

Execute cmd after loading the program and just before prompting for input. For more than one cmd, use quotes around the string of commands, separating them with a semi-colon. If the commands include a $ (dollar sign), the quotes will not work.


Causes early loading of the RTC library. (This does not turn on checking.) If not used on startup, then the RTC library is loaded on the next run, after a check command.


Delete startup after processing it.


Echo input commands.


Force loading of core file, even if it does not match.


Print help before prompting for input.

-I dir

Add dir to the list of directories to search for a source file. dbx normally searches the current directory and the directory where execfile is located. The directory search path can be reset with the pathmap command.


Debug a program that sets the keyboard into up-down translation mode. Necessary if a program uses up-down decoding.


Quiet mode, or silence echoing of two loading messages: "Reading symbol table for..." and "Attached to ...".


No symbolic information is loaded upon startup or a debug or attach. The symbolic information can be loaded on demand using prog -readsyms. This is equivalent to setting the dbxenv variable run_quick to on.


Run execfile immediately. Parameters follow the execfile name (including redirection). If the program terminates successfully, dbx exits. Otherwise, if a fault occurs, dbx reports the reason and waits for a response.


Print the README file.


Read initialization commands from the file startup script instead of from .dbxrc.


Suppress reading of site-specific .dbxrc.


Print the version of dbx being used.


Count - skip the top N frames in the where command.


Run the 32-bit dbx binary instead of the 64-bit dbx binary that runs by default on systems running a 64-bit OS.


The basic commands to know are:


to run the program being debugged


to obtain a stack trace with line numbers


to display variables


to set breakpoints

Scope Rules

dbx resolves scope conflicts based on the values of the current file and function. These values are updated as files and functions are entered and exited during execution. You can also change them explicitly using the file and func commands. When the current function is changed, the current file is updated along with it, and vice versa.

Thread Identification

In some commands the use of id refers to the thread id (tid) or light weight process id (lid). These take the form of t@N or l@N.

Handler Identification

Event handlers are identified with an integer number hid (see status, delete, and handler commands).


For a listing of all dbx commands, type help commands at the dbx command line.


The following features of dbx are not available on Linux platforms:

  • Fix and continue

  • Java debugging

  • Core file debugging

Memory access checking is not available on Linux platforms or on the Solaris OS x86 Platform Edition.


dbx checks the environment variable EDITOR for the name of the text editor to use with the edit command. The environment variable TMPDIR (if set) is used to replace /tmp as the location for temporary files needed by dbx. Several ksh environment variables are also used. For information on setting dbx environment variables, type "help dbxenv" on the dbx command line.



local dbx initialization file


your dbx initialization file

shared library used with the collector command

shared library used for Java debugging

shared library used for RTC (check command)

shared library used with the adb command

shared library used for Fortran intrinsic function calls

debugging aid for dbx engineers when tracking dbx problems

See also

bcheck(1), csh(1), kill(1), ksh(1), make(1S), rtc_patch_area(1), dbxrc(4)