Java Platform, Standard Edition Troubleshooting Guide
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2.11 The jdb Utility

The jdb utility is included in the JDK as an example command-line debugger. The jdb utility uses the Java Debug Interface (JDI) to launch or connect to the target JVM. The source code for jdb is included in $JAVA_HOME/demo/jpda/examples.jar.

The JDI is a high-level Java API that provides information useful for debuggers and similar systems that need access to the running state of a (usually remote) virtual machine. JDI is a component of the Java Platform Debugger Architecture (JPDA). See Java Platform Debugger Architecture.

The following sections provide troubleshooting techniques for jdb utility.

2.11.2 Attach a Process

Example 2-13 uses the SA PID Attaching Connector to attach to a process. The target process is not started with any special options; that is, the -agentlib:jdwp option is not required. When this connector attaches to a process it does so in read-only mode: the debugger can examine threads and the running application, but it cannot change anything. The process is frozen while the debugger is attached.

The command in Example 2-13 instructs jdb to use a connector named sun.jvm.hotspot.jdi.SAPIDAttachingConnector. This is a connector name rather than a class name. The connector takes one argument named pid, whose value is the process ID of the target process (9302).

In this example, the threads command is used to get a list of all threads. Then a specific thread is selected with the thread 0x7 command, and the where command is used to get a thread dump. Next, the up 1 command is used to move up one frame in the stack, and the where command is used again to get a thread dump.

2.11.3 Attach to a Core File on the Same Machine

The SA Core Attaching Connector is used to attach the debugger to a core file. The core file might have been created after a crash, see Troubleshoot System Crashes. The core file can also be obtained by using the gcore command on Oracle Solaris operating system or the gcore command in gdb on Linux. Because the core file is a snapshot of the process at the time the core file was created, the connector attaches in read-only mode: the debugger can examine threads and the running application at the time of the crash.

This command in Example 2-14 instructs jdb to use a connector named sun.jvm.hotspot.jdi.SACoreAttachingConnector. The connector takes two arguments: javaExecutable and core. The javaExecutable argument indicates the name of the Java binary. The core argument is the core file name (the core from the process with PID 20441 as shown in Example 2-14).

2.11.4 Attach to a Core File or a Hung Process from a Different Machine

To debug a core file that has been transported from another machine, the operating system versions and libraries must match. In this case you can first run a proxy server called the SA Debug Server. Then, on the machine where the debugger is installed, you can use the SA Debug Server Attaching Connector to connect to the debug server.

In Example 2-15, there are two machines: machine1 and machine2. A core file is available on machine1 and the debugger is available on machine2. The SA Debug Server is started on machine1 as shown in Example 2-15.

The jsadebugd command takes two arguments. The first argument is the name of the executable. Usually, this is java, but it can be another name (in embedded VMs, for example). The second argument is the name of the core file. In this example, the core file was obtained for a process with PID 20441 using the gcore utility.

On machine2, the debugger connects to the remote SA Debug Server using the SA Debug Server Attaching Connector, as shown in Example 2-16.

This command in Example 2-16 instructs jdb to use a connector named sun.jvm.hotspot.jdi.SADebugServerAttachingConnector. The connector has one argument, debugServerName, which is the host name or IP address of the machine where the SA Debug Server is running.


The SA Debug Server can also be used to remotely debug a hung process. In that case, it takes a single argument, which is the PID of the process. In addition, if it is required to run multiple debug servers on the same machine, each one must be provided with a unique ID. With the SA Debug Server Attaching Connector, this ID is provided as an additional connector argument. For more information on these and other related details, see the JPDA documentation.

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